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Successful Congregations Build on Their Strengths

When Father Robert Meyer became rector of the 125-year-old Saints Peter and Paul parish in Hoboken, N.J., members of the church began to ask him for legal advice. That's because Fr. Meyer has a law degree.  As word of his background spread, requests for legal advice grew.

An article on Faith & Leadership, an online offering of Duke Divinity School, chronicles the church's response: the development of a law clinic for low-income waterfront area residents. The impetus came not only from the needs of the neighborhood, but from the fact that the church has a significant number of lawyers in its 900-family parish.

"In my opinion, the only way a parish can support a legal clinic is if it understands what it means to practice law," says the ministry's solo lawyer, Elizabeth Caraballo. Fortunately, Saints Peter and Paul is uniquely formed to understand and support such a ministry, which it does to the tune of $75,000 per year. By matching community needs to congregation's strengths, the church is providing a service to its members and helping those in need.

For more on the concept of revitalizing congregations by building on church strengths, see the U.S. Congregational Life Survey's page, "10 Strengths of  U.S. Congregations," and our article, "Take Action: Understanding and Improving Worship Dynamics."




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