For many people working on humanitarian causes, spirituality is the force that compels them to be engaged with the world. They may have a ministry to serve the poor or be an activist fighting for human rights. They may be Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or not adhere to any particular tradition. What they share is an engaged spirituality.
From our first project following the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles, CRCC’s research and training programs have sought to understand and support faith leaders committed to improving their communities. CRCC continues this work today by studying the lives and work of exemplary people committed to advancing human flourishing across the globe. The following page includes stories of such people, created by CRCC’s researchers and journalist fellows. From the individual stories, CRCC aims to define and establish a field of “spiritual exemplars” and understand how engaged spirituality operates in their lives. This endeavor is supported by the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust.
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Above, Maggie Gorban ministers to children in a slum on the outskirts of Cairo.
- AnnouncementNominate a Spiritual ExemplarDo you know someone who is changing the world? Is their work inspiring but not widely known? The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture is launching a global project on spiritual …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars
- CRCC in the NewsSojourners Magazine: Can Churches Earn the Trust of Young Racial Justice Activists?Religious adherence may be on the decline among young people, but activists in the racial justice movement remain animated by spiritual practices, Sojourners magazine reported. The article quotes CRCC’s Hebah Farrag and …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Protests and Uprisings, Race and Culture
- ArticleThe Spirit of World-Changers: Lessons from the FieldThe Spiritual Exemplars Project (SEP), funded by a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, has spent the last two years collecting stories of individuals who are inspired by their faith or spiritual …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleFazlun Khalid: Environmentalism Is Intrinsic To IslamThis article was originally published in Religion Unplugged, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. LONDON — “The environment” is a relatively recent concept. Thomas Carlyle is believed to have …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Environment, Muslims and Islam, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleEla Gandhi: New Book Shares The Life And Lessons of Anti-Apartheid ActivistThis article was originally published in Religion Unplugged, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. BERLIN— There is a temptation when you meet Ela Gandhi to assume her soft, fluttering voice, …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa
- VideoRev. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray: A Life of Faith and Service
- ArticleNica Aquino: Searching for HomeIronically, hope for the Kalinga way of life may be found far from Lubuagan and the Chico River, in the outposts of the Filipino diaspora. For example, one of Cirilo “Sapi” Bawer’s …Topics: Creativity and Innovation, Engaged Spirituality, Place and Religion, Political Attitudes and Values, Race and Culture
- ArticleAisha al-Adawiya: Making Space For Women In MosquesThis radio documentary was produced by KALW’s The Spiritual Edge, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. Listen to it on The Spiritual Edge’s website. Women don’t always feel welcome in American …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Muslims and Islam, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleSarah Byrne-Martelli: A Hospital Chaplain Finds Joyful Sorrow For COVID-19 Patients Facing DeathThis radio documentary was produced by KALW’s The Spiritual Edge, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. Listen to it on The Spiritual Edge’s website. She remembers being fitted for her medical …Topics: COVID, Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars
- ArticleSister Rosemary Nyirumbe: A Skeptic’s Take On A Nun’s Vocation To Serve The Poor Regardless Of RisksThis article was originally published by Religion Unplugged, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. ATIAK, Uganda— Studying religion all of my academic career has made me into a bit of …Topics: Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa
- ArticleHeline Babiene Eweni: In Cameroon, A 24-Year-Old Youth Pastor Is Helping Hundreds Displaced By ConflictThis article was originally published by Religion Unplugged, with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. KUMBA, Cameroon — At precisely 10 p.m. every day, she locks herself in the silence of …Topics: COVID, Engaged Spirituality, Spiritual Exemplars, Sub-Saharan Africa
- ArticleSapi’s Struggle: Indigenous Resistance to Cultural Assimilation in the PhilippinesThis article was published with the support of CRCC’s global project on engaged spirituality. The buoyant chatter of children drifted down from a wooded ridge as we pulled up to the teaching …Topics: Community Dynamics, Engaged Spirituality, Place and Religion, Political Attitudes and Values, Religious Beliefs and Rituals
“Pessimism, cynicism, despair—these words are not in the vocabulary of spiritual exemplars such as Sister Rosemary and Jean. Instead, I kept hearing the words hope, compassion and love. What really struck me was their entrepreneurial spirit in the face of poverty and trauma. Perhaps visionary action is an antidote to paralyzing anxiety and fear.”
— Donald E. Miller, Countering Pessimism and Despair: An Encounter with two Spiritual Exemplars
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- Hebah FarragAssistant Director of ResearchHebah Farrag manages the center’s research and evaluation projects while engaging in research focused on religion, social change and new spiritualties.
- Donald E. MillerDirector of Strategic InitiativesDonald Miller focuses on global religious trends, genocides of the 20th century, and the role of religious NGOs in addressing issues of moral concern.
- Arpi MillerContributing FellowArpi Miller is a sociologist who studies secular and faith-based immigrant advocacy and accompaniment.