LIVING COMMUNITIES: CONTINUED”, AIMED AT THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHURCH SOCIAL WORK, WON THE FIRST COMPETITION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL GRANTS FUND (FEBRUARY 1, 2023)

The joint project of the Living Tradition Foundation of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service and the Sociology of Religion Laboratory at PSTGU received support from the Presidential Grants Fund. This new initiative is a continuation of the “Living Communities” project, also implemented with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund in 2021-2022. The new stage will last 13 months, during which the team plans to visit six Russian regions and dioceses.

The specialists from the Living Tradition Foundation will continue the practical part which consists of training workshops for rectors, priests, active parishioners, specialists from church and secular NGOs and social workers, aimed at finding and attracting funding for the implementation of their own parish initiatives. For experience exchange and spreading the awareness of successful social practices from different local communities, this stage innovatively will unite regional participants of Living Communities from 2021-2022 with the participants of the coming stage of the project.

The research part will focus on cases of successful parish practices and key factors of their formation. Employees of the Laboratory of Sociology of Religion will go on six expeditions to the regions where they will study at least 24 local parish communities. Based on the materials of in-depth interviews and questionnaires, it is planned to understand the mechanisms and criteria behind the implementation of successful initiatives, and specific difficulties in case of failures. The results of the field work will help to provide practitioners with a better understanding of church social work in relation to the specific opportunities available in their context. Before the study trips, researchers will present previous analysis of parish communities and demonstrate the best, brightest practices from the Kaliningrad, Sverdlovsk, Samara, Rostov and Tver regions that participated in the project in 2021-2022.

Also, at the new stage of the project’s development, the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service will organize a section at a conference of social workers on the basis of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University in Moscow. During the section, researchers from the Sociology of Religion team will present the results of qualitative and quantitative research on Orthodox parishes for a wider audience.