Socially Engaged Spirituality: Spiritual Motivation For Social Change In Delegations To The Bajo Lempa Region Of El Salvador
This paper seeks to explore the dynamics of the connection between spirituality and social change by means of a descriptive study of delegations to the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador through a non-profit, non-faith-based organization, The Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America (FSSCA). It is the researcher’s belief that knowing more about this interaction between spirituality and social action can be useful not only in recruiting for FSSCA delegations, but also when applied to the constituency building and solidarity efforts of any justice-oriented group addressing current social issues. The paper begins with background information on the FSSCA as well as the state of spiritual research. Included is a model of Engaged Spirituality recently developed by Gregory C. Stanczak and Donald E. Miller through the Center for Religious and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. This model identifies six specific ways that individual spirituality can be understood in relation to various forms of social action, whether that action is of a social service nature or forms of public participation. Qualitative data from questionnaires and interviews with returned delegates from the FSSCA program is presented and analyzed in comparison with this Engaged Spirituality model. The paper concludes by outlining actions the sponsoring organization can take for its delegation program as well as practical applications for other groups and areas for further study.