Farnsley, Arthur E., II
Farnsley, Arthur E., II
Education: Yale Divinity School, M.A.R.; Emory University, Ph.D.
Office—Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, Cavanaugh Hall 341, 425 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202. E-mail—[email protected]
Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, began as director of research component of Project on Religion and Urban Culture at the Polis Center, became executive officer of Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Southern Baptist Politics: Authority and Power in the Restructuring of an American Denomination, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1994.
(Contributor) Congregation and Community, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1997.
Rising Expectations: Urban Congregations, Welfare Reform, and Civic Life, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2003.
(With others) Sacred Circles, Public Squares: The Multicentering of American Religion, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2004.
Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Christian Century, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Religious Studies News, Contemporary Sociology, and Orange County Register.
Arthur E. Farnsley II studies the relationship between church and community from a sociological perspective. In Rising Expectations: Urban Congregations, Welfare Reform, and Civic Life, Farnsley focuses on faith-based social service partnerships in Indianapolis, arguing that it is unrealistic to expect churches to provide all of the kinds of services that have arisen in the wake of welfare reform beginning in 2000. As Lilian Daniel explained in the Christian Century: "Local churches are being called into service to solve everything from flaws in the welfare system, to the lack of social capital, to the excesses of big government," but Farnsley suggests that most churches cannot meet these new expectations unless circumstances change. Farnsley argues that most congregations lack the skills to partner effectively with civic organizations, but also points out that government agencies also know little about what the churches in their communities can offer. He calls for increased communication between church members and civic leaders as a basic step toward building more effective partnerships. In the Social Service Review, Carl Milofsky described Rising Expectations as a "careful and well-informed assessment of what faith-based social action might mean, how it might be undertaken, how it varies across a metropolitan area, what consequences it might have for congregations, and what overall impact these programs have had on social welfare," adding that Farnsley's study is "one of the few that is sophisticated about the body of research on nonprofit organizations and about the sociological organization of local religious bodies."
Indianapolis is again the focus of Sacred Circles, Public Squares: The Multicentering of American Religion, which looks at the developing social role of churches in that city. Farnsley and his coauthors, wrote Betty A. DeBerg in Church History, have "produced a rich, detailed, nuanced portrait of a city full of a variety of congregations, each interacting in unique and not-so-unique ways with their unique and not-so-unique neighborhoods."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christian Century, June 15, 2004, Lilian Daniel, review of Rising Expectations: Urban Congregations, Welfare Reform, and Civic Life, p. 38.
Church History, September, 2006, Betty A. DeBerg, review of Sacred Circles, Public Squares: The Multicentering of American Religion, p. 701.
Social Forces, December, 1997, Kevin J. Christiano, review of Congregation and Community, p. 734.
Social Service Review, March, 2004, Carl Milofsky, review of Rising Expectations, p. 168.
Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Web site,http://www.sssrweb.org (May 9, 2007).