USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Conversations on Thriving Congregations

Conversations on Thriving Congregations

Conversations on Thriving Congregations is part of Reimagining Church Initiative at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. This initiative seeks to bring church leaders together to reimagine the possibilities for creating thriving congregations both in how they provide deep meaning and community for their members, and in developing programming and presence in their host communities.

The conversations are intended to lay groundwork for developing a community of church leaders who are seeking a space in which to share their experience and insights and to learn from other church, academic and community leaders.

Participation in the conversation is by invitation. If you are interested, please contact

Click here for more information on the conversations:

2020 Thriving Conversation Series

2021 Thriving Conversation Series

Resources for Thriving Congregations

Your Hosts:

Richard Flory is senior director of research and evaluation at the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. He is a sociologist whose research focuses on religious and cultural change, religion and urban life, and the religious and spiritual lives of youth and young adults. Professor Flory has published several books, most recently, Back Pocket God: Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford University Press, 2020). Flory frequently speaks at conferences and with faith groups.

Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard is the program manager for the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement where she combines her experience as a pastor and expertise as a community leader to run programs that train pastors to take on civic engagement work. Smith-Pollard also is a pastor, motivational speaker, author, life coach, radio personality, and community activist. She has served as Assistant Pastor and Pastor of Family Ministries at Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine, California; Pastor of A.K. Quinn AME Church in Moreno Valley, California; and Pastor of St. James AME Church in Los Angeles, California. In 2014, Smith-Pollard launched Word of Encouragement Community Church (WOECC.ORG) in Los Angeles. She is a frequent speaker at churches and church conferences.

The Reimagining Church Initiative is supported by a grant from The Lilly Endowment