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Brad Fulton and Richard L. Wood

Abstract

Interfaith work in the United States takes diverse forms: from grass-roots collaboration on projects such as feeding the homeless, to locally-sponsored interfaith dialogues, collaborations sponsored by national denominational bodies and shared work on federal ‘faith-based initiatives’. This article profiles the characteristics and dynamics of a particular type of interfaith work, done under the rubric of ‘broad-based’, ‘faith-based’ or ‘congregation-based’ community organizing. For reasons detailed below, we term this form of interfaith and religious-secular collaboration ‘institution-based community organizing’. By drawing on results from a national survey of all local institution-based community organizations active in the United States in 2011, this article documents the significance of the field, its broadly interfaith profile, how it incorporates religious practices into organizing, and the opportunities and challenges that religious diversity presents to its practitioners and to North American society.1