Hope in Community: Recovering the Most Elusive Social Virtue in American Church Practice

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Do American Christians have hope in community, within their congregations and in the wider society, and should they? Putting my fieldwork in five church communities in dialogue with Thomas Aquinas’s account of hope and with insights from congregational studies, I answer yes to both questions. Christian hope is best understood and lived not simply as a theological virtue but as a social virtue. In this understanding, connections forged with others, both inside and outside a church, can develop a community’s realistic, forward-looking trust in social relationships and in the fate of society. I suggest four guidelines for church practices to build up social hope and make it more effectual.


Online first, March 20, 2024