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A dissertation presented to

the Faculty of Saybrook University

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Organizational Systems


Dena Michele Rosko

Oakland, California July 2017

© 2017 by Dena Michele Rosko

Approval of the Dissertation


This dissertation by Dena M. Rosko has been approved by the committee members below, who recommend it be accepted by the faculty of Saybrook University in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Systems

Dissertation Committee:

Kathia Laszlo, Ph.D., Chair


Gary Metcalf, Ph.D.


Nancy Southern, Ed.D.





Dena Michele Rosko

Saybrook University

This study envisioned compassionate communitas for a local faith-based cross-sector

social partnership (CSSP) to interpret how people express the heart of what faith-based CSSPs

do amid rising pressures to meet more human and social needs with seemingly less resources and

workers. This study asked, "What is the ideal vision of a faith-based cross-sector social

partnership for people who support this type of health system?"

This study consisted of interviews using idealized systems design as a framework to

collect participant visions of the ideal partnership of the future. These visions were synthesized

and interpreted with reflective short stories and photographs from the researcher to share the

experience of compassionate communitas of a local faith-based CSSP for which the researcher

volunteered. The five participants who contributed to the local faith-based CSSP were the

president, board director, a pastor, a regional leader of a para-church organization, and an

employee of a regional health organization.

This study crafted sense from the stories, photographs, and visions by systematically

searching the data sources for expressions of the nine dimensions of compassionate communitas

based on the theoretical definitions from the literature: collective responding, noticing suffering,

feelings of empathy, action to alleviate suffering, communicating concern, sensecrafting, ritual


and rites of passage through transition, supporting marginalized experience, and transforming

suffering into a personal or communal identity that expresses complex wholeness. A central

finding visualized a patch work handcrafted quilt as a metaphor for compassionate communitas

to support participant faith-based visions of hospitality to connect beyond sectorial interests and

to manage diverse partners in a society that pressures them to design for separation by meeting

basic needs with safe love so that people can thrive.

Future researchers can apply storied systems design, merge faith and vocation as

worthwhile foci to study, flesh out love as the bond for responding to human vulnerability by

connecting instead of ostracizing, and create a health systems model for partnerships and

practitioners salient to community health. Implications designing health systems to include a

family and hospitality approach to partnering with research discourse that supports study

findings of basic needs, safe love, and thriving.


For Graem. I love you always all ways.

To James, Amy, and my parents.

May your love outgrow your troubles, your true family show you the way home, your

work give you joy, your friendships impart hope, and God strengthen hearts with peace.

(Celebrate with a party soon?)

Special note of gratitude to librarians everywhere.



Thank you to the Lord for giving me life and safe passage, and teaching me about love.

Thank you to my husband James for going through the travails and travels of doctoral

study with me. Thank you to my son Graem for your patient endurance and gentle strength as I

finished the work, and for your quiet wonderment of the sky and trees on our walks. May you

know the joy of being you outside of walls and inside the shelter of love, hugs, and vocation.

Thank you to my chair, Kathia Laszlo, for believing in this unorthodox work, for

advocating for me, and supporting me as a person. Thank you for showing me how to chair.

Thank you to Gary Metcalf for telling me about Idealized Systems Design, and committing to

cross the finish line, and to committee reader Nancy Southern for journeying with me through

transfer, community engagement for crisis management in my city, and doctoral completion.

Thank you to the executive director and board president for affirming my personhood and

vocational ministry. Thank you to participants and contributors of the local faith-based CSSP for

your services to people in God’s image, for partnering with my consulting and research, my

transition to motherhood, for modeling compassionate communitas, and for supporting the

finishing of this work with your inspiring visions. Thank you for the exhausting and energizing

work that you do for people in our city. Thank you to the city for structuring a place to live for

residents, and for partnering in the human and social services that the faith-based CSSP provides.

Thank you to my friends for your ongoing prayers, patience, and kindness to me as I

transitioned through graduate and post-graduate programs, marriage, and motherhood. Notably,

Jennifer for walking side by side, Jennifer for your moral support and practical advice, Janelle

for your empathy and cheering my doctoral process with solidarity, Monique, Kevin, Debbie,

and Jodi for your prayers from afar for my travels and troubles, Carrie for modeling intentional


parenting, Toka for our irreverent laughs over wine and a phone-call on a hike, Candace and

Christa for your experienced advice, prayers, and listening, Amber, Cle, Whitney, Katelan, Alise,

and Beth (birth class!), and Laura V.P. and Lottbott, plus the family you have shared with us

(Dawson, Anna and David, E.J. and Chris), for walking with us through postpartum as kindred

spirits and playmates, plus a loving godmother to Graem. Thank you Neighbors for your cheer.

Thank you to our pastors, counselors, and health practitioners who supported our health

and character through an arduous, lonely, and painful process. Pastor Churilla and Debi, thank

you for your prayers for me and my little family, and for being my first pastor. Pastor Jensen

and Thelma, thank you for your kindness, gentleness, humor, and faithfulness to God and our

family for years. Pastor G, thank you for your message to leave the empty tomb and serve in our

Galilees. Pastors Jim and Tom, thank you for encouraging a rising hope by reminding us to

cherish each other, care for each other in crisis, celebrate the good times, remember the good that

God has done, and strengthen our nuclear family with boundaries and life-giving activities. Your

dedication to our family’s growth reinforced my value of God’s extended spiritual family as our

own. Also, Mission for welcoming us with the friendly and family style for which I longed.

Thank you to Mom and Dad for raising me in a church family, and for your prayers, and

to Mom for watching Graem during this dissertation, for reminding me that God works all for

good and renewal (Rom. 8:28-30), to pray, and that we are about the future. I enjoyed hearing

you both laugh and play. Thank you to Aunt Laura and Uncle Pat for family dinners,

discipleship, prayers, and for relating with me, and Aunt Dora and Dixie for your texts, prayers,

and encouragement. Thank you to aunt Yvonne and Uncle Alan for your visits, Mike and

Claudia for your support of our transition to parenthood, Barbi for late night Facebook chats,

telling me to stay me, and lunch and tea date, Lisa for your prayers, Lindsay for welcoming


Graem as the new baby in the family, and for your yoga passion, Amy for being there for me and

sharing your family when I struggled in stuck places, and Rain for telling me not to give up.

Thank you to my colleagues and friends at Saybrook and Gonzaga Universities for

showing me how to do the work with joy and celebration of each other: "We’ll get through this

together." Thank you to President Nathan Long and Dr. Carol Humphreys for your time and

listening ear about my experience as a transfer student, and about my work for community

engagement for the university with storycrafting benefiting municipalities at the local level.

Thank you to Dr. Heather Miller for reminding me that the good about a Ph.D. is what I learn,

and how to do it better next time. Thank you to Corey and Lynnette for your healing guidance.

I am remiss if I neglected to mention anyone meriting gratitude. My learning evidenced

in this study does not necessarily reflect the views of anyone stated in the acknowledgements, or

of my participants; the interpretations of an interpretive study I hold as my own.

Writing thank you has been a most gratifying part of this study because loving connection

matters. "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up" (1 Cor. 8:1) sums up why compassionate

communitas matters to me as a turning point in-between a title and distinction towards a more

humble, healthy, sane, and act of faith, plus the integration needed to align character with the

honor and privilege of work that has resulted in a Ph.D., but has hopefully planted seeds of a

more lasting kind. For me, that lasting kind rests in-between building a house of prayer (Isa.

56:7; Jer. 7:11; Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17), and repairing rifts of suffering (Isa. 58:12) imbued

with yearnings of the heart reminiscent of faith while still honoring the words (Luke 11:42; Matt.

23:23). I thank God for life, and wish you all love, health, and joy on your journey.


Table of Contents

List of Tables


List of Figures




About the Faith-Based CSSP


Historical Background of the Faith-Based CSSP


Methodology Overview


Definition of Terms


Organizational Compassion


Liminal Communitas


Research Questions


Conceptual Connections


Mismatch of Modern For-Profit Organizing


Global Context of Wealth Disparity for Faith-Based CSSPs


Previous Research about CSSPs


Summary and Organization




Conceptual Foundations


Review of the Literature


Theme One: Organizational Compassion


Development of organizational compassion


Earlier work about emotions



Operationalizing compassion


Organizational compassion


Compassion as moral


Compassion amid


Theme Two: Liminality of Communitas


The liminal


Empirical findings of liminal


Practice of communitas as complex wholeness


The contribution of spirituality to


Idealizing systems of compassionate


Let love


Story as a liminal act


Theme Three: Faith-Based CSSPs


The complexity of


A systems understanding of


Power players: Sociopolitics for faith-based


Systems functions and processes: Compassionate communitas of faith-based CSSPs


Functions of human systems: Socioeconomics for faith-based


Consciousness: Socioculture for faith-based


Holos: Primary driver for compassionate communitas of faith-based







Research Questions




Participant Selection










Questions for Participants


Image of the Ideal Partnership System


The Ideal for Future Society


Environmental View


Rewind to Present Day


Systems Synthesis


Rationale for Storied Systems Design






Systems Synthesis


Systems Synthesis: Collective Responding


Systems Synthesis: Noticing Suffering


Systems Synthesis: Feelings of Empathy


Systems Synthesis: Action to Alleviate Suffering


Systems Synthesis: Communicating Concern



Systems Synthesis: Transition


Systems Synthesis: Marginalized Experience


Systems Synthesis: Transforming Suffering to Complex Wholeness






Answering the Research Questions


Image of an Ideal Partnership


Directions for Future Research


Storied Systems Design


Synthesis of Faith and Vocation


Love & Structures That Connect


Health Systems Model




Ethical Considerations






Why I Value Compassionate Communitas


Post-Doctorate Directions








Appendix A: Influential Conceptions of Organizational Compassion as a Research Model



Appendix C: Conceptions Towards Storied Systems Design


Appendix D: Stories and Photographs


Storying me: Leadership


Storying we: Easter sunrise


Storying the organization: Day in the life of faith


Storying knowledge-sharing: Food


Storying values: Fundraising


Storying the springboard: Ribbon cutting ceremony


Storying the future: The director's ordination


Appendix E: Transcripts of Interviews




Table 1:

Compassionate Communitas Dimensions and Themes in the Sources


Table 2:

Compassionate Communitas Dimensions and Implications in the Sources


Table 3:

Usage of Denning's (2005) Typology for Organizational Storycrafting


Table A1: Influential Conceptions of Organizational Compassion Via Author, Concept,


and Next Steps


Table B1: Previous Conceptions of Liminality


Table B2: Recent Empirical Findings of Conceptions of Liminality


Table B3: Research Opportunities for Empirical Inquiry of Conceptions of Liminality


Table C1: Conceptions of Storied Systems Design Via Author(s)


Table C2: Narrative Conceptions of Storied Systems Design for Idealized


Research and Practice




Figure 1: Leadership Workshops: Story


Figure 2: Fundraising Gala: The Last Supper Quilt


Figure 3: First Celebration of the Day Center at City Hall


Figure 4: Food Distribution: Sign in Waiting Room


Figure 5: Food Distribution: A Volunteer Hands a Resident Produce


Figure 6. Bouquet at Celebration of the Day Center


Figure 7: Ordination: Reception Table in Foyer


Figure 8: Leadership Workshops: Hand Painted Poster at Partner Church


Figure 9: Bee Lifts Off From Lavender at a Regional Church Event With Partners


Figure 10: Fundraising Gala: Welcome Table


Figure 11: Bible With Glasses


Figure 12: Dialogue: Unity Service at Partner Church


Figure 13: Food Distribution: Quote Pinned on Bulletin Board


Figure 14: Reflection of Sky in Puddle After a Sunrise


Figure 15: Reflection of Sky in Lake After a Sunrise


Figure 16: Reflection of Bridge Inverted in Lake After Sunrise Service


Figure 17: Easter Sunrise Service Over Trees


Figure 18: Sunset Over Lake Where Held Sunrise Service


Figure 19: Last Meeting of the Year: Path at a Partner Church


Figure 20: Cross and Vine Via Sunlit Doorway at Partner Church


Figure 21: Candle With Painting at a Partner Church for a Meeting on Hunger



Figure 23: Easter Sunrise Service Over Lake


Figure 24: Opening Between Trees Near Site of Service


Figure 25: Food Distribution: Iris at Housing Building


Figure 26: Playground at Partner Church at Last Meeting of a Year


Figure 27: Stained Glass Window at A Partner Church


Figure 28: Storied Systems Design as Collective Performance for Faith-Based CSSPs




This storied systems design dissertation about compassionate communitas contributes a

compelling topic to envision faith-based cross sector social partnerships (CSSPs). Research and

practice need attention for the heart behind the bones of how faith-based CSSPs envision their

work. This study builds a bridge to approach faith-based CSSPs as a health system via (a)

storied idealized systems design and (b) compassionate communitas. Strategic alliances, such as

faith-based CSSPs, allow organizations to collaborate. Selsky and Parker (2005, 2010), who

introduced CSSPs, recommended more rich attention in research. This study goes beyond

structural or resource distinctions to illumine the heart of faith-based CSSPs. Little seems

known about how CSSPs function beyond distinctions about the purpose or structure of their

origins. This study merged cross-disciplinary boundaries of anthropology (communitas),

organizational psychology (compassion), and organizational systems (partnerships) to study

strategic alliances with approaches that better detail the complexity of faith-based CSSPs (see

Gray, 1985; Gulati, 1998; Mintzberg, Jorgensen, & Westley, 1996). Researchers need to know

how CSSPs affect whole systems because such studies seem rare (Selsky & Parker, 2005).

I applied storied systems design to paint the picture of an ideal image of a partnership by

synthesizing my reflective short stories and photographs about when I volunteered with a local

faith-based CSSP with participant visions of the ideal partnership of the future. I wrote the short

stories in April 2016 and placed the photographs within the stories at that time (Appendix D).

Later, I interviewed participants with questions about the ideal vision of the partnership of the

future, the ideal environment to support this partnership of the future, and what needs to change

now to implement this vision (Appendix E). The questions did not include prompts about

compassionate communitas or my stories or photographs because I wanted to hear their ideal


vision in their own words (Appendix E). The study participants were affiliated with this same

local faith-based CSSP with whom I served, and so some of us knew each other. I recruited most

participants from the board, and so four of five of the participants were board members. The

study participants contributed to this local faith-based CSSP as board members, the organization

president, board director, a pastor, a regional leader of a para-church organization, and an

employee of a regional health organization. This study offers a unique glimpse into how

research emerged from my sense-crafting process from volunteering with a faith-based CSSP.

Selsky and Parker (2005, 2010) defined a CSSP as an organization that partners to

address short- or longer- term projects that one or all partners propose, especially amid resource

constraints. Faith-based CSSPs often start as churches or spiritual congregations that reach out

to other such groups, businesses, individuals, and government agencies to partner for a shared

human or social concern, such as shelter, food, health, employment, or education. Examples of

CSSPs include partnerships between nonprofit organizations and businesses that encompass

social issues and causes, partnerships between governments and businesses for infrastructure

development and public services, partnerships between governments and nonprofit organizations

for job development and welfare, and partnerships from all three sectors that do large-scale

national or international multisector projects to address economic and community development,

social services, the environment, and health (Selsky & Parker, 2005). These CSSPs depend on

each other to share risk and resources, and to address concerns larger than one organization can

do alone (Iossa & Martimort, 2012; Kraak et al., 2012; Selsky & Parker, 2005).


About the Faith-Based CSSP

The faith-based CSSP for this study has served a city for over 40 years with five program

areas in shelter, food, health, education, and employment. This faith-based CSSP began as a

group of churches. Current programs have supported a day center that opened in collaboration

with city hall, a rotating night shelter supported by volunteers and churches, and food programs

throughout the week for residents. The faith-based CSSP consists of nonprofit, for-profit, local

churches, municipal officials, county agencies, and individual volunteers. This faith-based

CSSP’s core values include love of neighbor and community engagement of faith.

In my consulting and research, I support people and organizations to integrate their core

values and strategy to guide the language and heart of their story. In early 2012, the then

executive director asked me to support the faith-based CSSP with my storycrafting consulting

because we shared values of faith, story, dialogue, and team care to reduce fear and improve

connectedness during fiduciary transition to 501(c)3 status. I have volunteered with the faith-

based CSSP since then. During that time, the faith-based CSSP transitioned to non-profit

fiduciary status from a group of churches active for 40 years prior, and so my consulting and

research with story provided one way to support them through that change. I attended monthly

meetings to learn about the faith-based CSSP, board meetings to assist with aligning visioning,

discourse, and communication, and I co-designed and facilitated leadership and storycrafting

workshops with the executive director and board president. At those workshops, I supported

program directors and volunteers with familiarizing themselves with the faith-based CSSP and

its values alongside their motivation to serve so that they could communicate their story to

potential supporters. I also met informally with the executive director for leadership coaching.


In 2012, the faith-based CSSP hired me to do four storycrafting group sessions with their

food program to support team unity, outreach for a fundraising event, and to help the team align

the marketing language on their website with their values as individuals and as a group. Later,

we co- created and facilitated storycrafting and leadership workshops with program leaders and

faith-based CSSP-wide to support their identity and to promote the faith-based CSSP to each

other and potential supporters. During those sessions, we learned of a need to integrate the

various programs and individual motivations with a We identity and collective motivation to

serve. These experiences showed me the value of supporting people engaged in community.

This faith-based CSSP’s core values for love of neighbor and community engagement of

faith led me to consider how I can better support the work that faith-based CSSPs do with storied

practice and research. I began to wonder how compassionate communitas of faith-based CSSPs

can contribute to an engaged and loving community as a way of designing health systems.

Regional context for this work involved a county-wide strategic plan to make homelessness rare,

brief, and one-time (All Home King County, 2017). This work responded to the reality of the

consequences of wealth disparity. However, the faith-based CSSP may hold different ideals of

partnership. Therefore, I included how people who support a faith-based CSSP envision an ideal

partnership because their design visions impact their work and those whom they serve.

Historical Background of the Faith-Based CSSP

The faith-based CSSP came out of a historical backdrop of ecumenism in part because

the inter-church movement to serve a city, and because leadership within the faith-based CSSP

later had studied and valued ecumenism. The history of ecumenism provides a context to

understand the origins of the faith-based CSSP and the reason for the seeming splits between

ecumenism and evangelicalism, which relate to the modern environment. During the 1930s-


1940s, various committees emerged to explore the possibility of one ecumenical movement

beginning in 1936 with 35 committee members, and again on July 8, 1937 (Amorion, 2012).

Members of The Oxford Conference on Life and Work on July 12, 1937 and the Edinburgh

Conference on Faith and Order on August 3, 1937 approved the committee's proposal that the

ecumenical movement needs to be one movement of churches (Amorion, 2012).

More conferences and meetings followed until World War II. According to Amorion

(2012), the members of The Utrecht Conference on May 9, 1938 created the structural

foundation of the World Council of Churches (WCC). They agreed that the WCC must not

become a super church but instead exercise spiritual authority as a fellowship of churches who

accept Jesus Christ as God and Savior, and they appointed a provisional committee to establish a

regional system. However, World War II interrupted this plan, and so the committee established

three offices in Geneva, London, and New York to communicate with churches throughout the

world during the war. After this interlude, the WCC began relief fieldwork to help prisoners of

war and refugees throughout and after the war (Amorion, 2012).

The WCC functioned to (a) continue the work of the two world movements or "Faith and

Order" and "Life and Work," (b) to facilitate common action by the church, and (c) to promote

the growth of the ecumenical consciousness in members of all the churches (Amorion, 2012).

This emphasis on a lack of universal apostleship made ecumenism a movement instead of a

church. This history seems to have influenced the CSSP in part with the openness to inviting

similarly missioned partners to the table instead of over-emphasizing one denomination. With

that, modern ecumenism covers three broad areas of historic concern: faith and order, life and

work, and mission and evangelism. An ecumenical vision calls for unity, the pursuit of justice,

explicit witness to Christ, and renewal of creation while recognizing tensions between these calls


(Kinnamon & Cope, 1997). Concerns developed into how churches can recover authentic

ecumenical vision with a deep concern for unity (Kinnamon, 2003).

Later, Kinnamon (2014) asked several questions about whether contributors can renew

the ecumenical movement after the passion has died down and historical trends stabilize as

structured norms. Kinnamon, a modern ecumenical leader and scholar, hopes that ecumenism

can overcome the problem of partnerships being short-lived when devoted to a task or champion,

or overly structured, where at best these partnerships reinvent themselves to make way for the

ecclesiastical church—or the church in the theological sense. Kinnamon (2014) considered

leadership and context, such as what it takes to be an ecumenical leader, the impact of church

councils with reduced funding, tensions between unity and justice, revitalizing ecumenism at the

local level with deeper engagement with the churches, and what it means to be part of the church

at an integral level instead of as a member with an external organization. One challenge with

modern-day ecumenism involves renewing the movement with a deeper sense of community and

commitment based on a theological understanding that churches belong to each other (M.

Kinnamon, personal communication, October 30, 2014).

Much earlier, denominational movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth century

informed Evangelicalism, which eventually led to the previously described events in the 20th

century (Amorion, 2012). However, tensions between evangelicalism and ecumenism arose.

Historically, Evangelical denominations wrestled with difficulties about ecumenism mostly

centering on the need to recognize unity based on a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as

God and Savior and not about the need for unity of diversity and shared concerns over the

movement as a pillar of truth or a global Church that transcends local churches (Longhenry,

n.d.). Notably, the WCC clarified these differences in the tenets of 1950 (Amorion, 2012).


After World War II, American evangelicals aspired to leave behind fundamentalism and

self-imposed separation from the world and instead engage culture and society. For the decade

after World War II, many American evangelicals became aware of deprivation and poverty

across the globe, which produced several cooperative evangelical social ministries first in Europe

and then in Asia. During the early Cold War, evangelicals remained committed to the historic

emphasis on personal conversion, which shaped their efforts to alleviate suffering of the global

poor. During this time, many evangelical groups engaged the world with conversion and poverty

alleviation efforts (Mullin, 2014). With growing evangelical diversity, divisions between left

and right seemed more arbitrary and without qualification because of a growing number of

evangelicals did not self-ascribe to either camp. They seem dissatisfied with how Christians had

engaged the public sphere in the past and regarded their faith as something more than a blueprint

for a political ideology (Harper, 2012; Harper & Innes, 2011; King, 2012).

The split in-between evangelicalism and ecumenism came about in part by a history of

new American religious pluralism, such as indicated by several texts reviewed by Sachs (2011).

In the early 1970s, a group of progressive evangelicals challenged the mid-century cultural

conservative bent of evangelicalism six years before the rise of the moral majority. This

evangelical left also challenged American culture, especially with debates over racial, sexual,

and theological differences during the 1960s and 1970s. White American evangelicalism

successfully mobilized politically and eclipsed the fragmenting evangelical left by the 1980s in

part due to internal strife over identity that prevented the movement from maturing. However,

the evangelical left provided diversity and fluidity that reflected the varieties of evangelicalism

(Swartz, 2011). For some evangelicals, the emphasis on inviting Christ to the table, or the

individual's salvation as a personal relationship and peace with God, also needs attention to


expressing that new communal connection to the body and life of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13, 27;

Col. 1:18, 24; Eph. 1:5, 1:22, 2:19, 4:4; Rom. 5:8, 12:4-5).

Internationally, American evangelical internationalism especially has created lasting

effects with relief and development agencies, and how American evangelicals engage with

global needs. This engagement means interacting with a global Christianity and a broad

spectrum of concerns that need people to redraw boundaries of the past so that they can address

social concerns that they may have previously ignored or lacked awareness (King, 2012).

However, evangelicalism’s reputation for distance from suffering symbolized how Evangelicals

visualized humanitarianism, such as with photographs of missions (Curtis, 2012), which

contrasted how Jesus came down and suffered with people in the world and gazed on the crowds

with compassion because they lacked someone to care for them (Benedict XVI, 2005; Isaiah 9:1-

6; Mabee, 2013; Matt. 9:36, 14:14; Mk. 6:34; Yates, 1994).

The perceived overlap with politicizing faith to distance suffering does not seem new to

history. For the last half of the 20th century, neo-evangelicalism moved from an anti-

Communist nationalist stance to internationalism characterized by concerns for human rights,

justice, and economic development. These critiques led evangelicals to engage in Vietnam

protests, poverty relief, civil rights, and a tempered nationalism, which influenced a progressive

turn in the evangelical left toward a more resolute global concern by the 1970s (Swartz, 2012).

This turn may become reinvented in the current political climate as progressives return to church

desiring harmony between their social concerns and theology (Green, 2016; Harris, 2016).

The perceived split between evangelicalism and ecumenism may not be seem as deep and

wide as before because of the diversity of movements of Christian faith that have sought to

improve social justice in recent years. Splits from engrained cultural assumptions about


separation of church and state, or who cares for the poor or welcomes others different from

themselves, and proclaiming Jesus as Savior and Lord function as a duality by assuming, but

care coexists with the message of salvation. This split has inflicted distracting tension. This

tension happens when merging faith with politics, socioeconomics, and culture. For instance,

suburban church-goers experienced tensions with outreach when they realized power inequities

between themselves as charitable givers and the recipients and with the resurgence of religious

conservativism in U.S. civil society and public culture (Elisha, 2008). Some interpret Scriptures

differently to question the level of involvement in caring for those marginalized even though

Jesus served those in spiritual and physical need (Bressler, 2013; Graham, 2006; Irwin, 2014).

These dilemmas have paralleled late modern urbanism, such as gentrification as a

structural process (Bielo, 2011), which has widened wealth disparity gaps and displaced poorer

populations that overlap with race in the city of the faith-based CSSP (see City of Seattle, 2015;

McGee, 2007-2008). Add to that sectorial organizational structures that may mismatch a faith-

based approach to organizing that comes from a history of kinship and peer-to-peer caring

(Ascough, 2002). For instance, one critical distinction between ecumenism and other faith-based

approaches involves their tendency to adopt a conciliatory approach, which distinguishes the

movement from coalition approaches that require contractual-like agreements (M. Kinnamon,

personal communication, October 22, 2014). The gospel seems interpersonal, relational,

communal, and a cause for pause to transition from self for self to self for God and others, and so

it makes sense for a faith-based CSSP to function as a relationship beyond operational

distinctions. This history gives a sketch of the faith-based CSSP, and introduces tensions

between modern structures bent on separation and the spiritual yearning for connection.


Methodology Overview

This study approached faith-based CSSPs via (a) storied systems design and (b)

compassionate communitas. I applied the lens of compassionate communitas to synthesize my

reflective short stories and photographs from time volunteering with a faith-based CSSP with

participants’ ideal visions of the partnership of the future. This faith-based CSSP cared about

envisioning an idealized future because they want to improve the quality of life for people longer

term than the current realities allow for people marginalized due to lack of resources. A storied

systems design resonated with this faith-based CSSP because their faith tradition values

storycrafting, dialogue, and hospitality of people’s diverse ideas and skills to meet a shared need.

I made transparent my bent toward compassionate communitas by including me as one

participant, or self as stakeholder, in addition to the five adults. However, I did not show

participants the stories or photographs, and excluded compassionate communitas from the

questions to not bias them. I asked participants for their vision of ideal partnership and

synthesized the stories, photographs, and visions with compassionate communitas by using the

theoretical definitions of compassionate communitas. I called these definitions dimensions.

I systematically searched the data sources via the nine dimensions of compassionate

communitas to craft sense from the stories, photographs, and visions for how these data sources

expressed collective responding, noticing suffering, feelings of empathy, action to alleviate

suffering, communicating concern, and sensecrafting (Dutton, Workman, & Hardin, 2014;

Kanov et al., 2004), and ritual and rites of passage via people going through a transition,

supporting each other’s marginalized experience, and transforming suffering into a personal or

communal identity that expresses complex wholeness (Fernandez, 1986; V. W. Turner, 1987).


In April 2016, I wrote seven stories reflecting about volunteering for the faith-based

CSSP as prompted by Denning’s (2005) typology of organizational storycrafting. I included

photographs in the stories from volunteering during 2012-2016. The photographs did not

connect personally identifiable information to respect ethical considerations, but showed detail,

nature, and establishing images of my time volunteering. This choice influenced the selection. I

purposively invited from the board of a local faith-based CSSP five adult participants. These

participants support the local faith-based CSSP with which I volunteered. These participants

held roles of executive director, board president, volunteer affiliated with a regional health

system, volunteer affiliated with a regional non-profit organization, and pastor. I asked

participants questions about their ideal vision of partnership of the future, of society to support

this ideal partnership, and then rewound to present day to inquire what realities impede that

vision, who they need to change reality to match their ideal, and what they need from society to

support this change. The open-ended questions did not bias participants to compassionate

communitas because the questions use ideal vision of partnership instead.

No known study has previously applied this interdisciplinary approach of (a) synthesizing

stories, photographs, and visions through the lens of (b) compassionate communitas (c) to

approach faith-based CSSPs as a health system. For this study, health system does not mean

healthcare. Health systems refers to that CSSPs provide health services via human and social

work. This research provides a glimpse into how people who support the work of faith-based

CSSPs idealize and experience partnership. This study offers a unique and compelling insight of

the space in-between reality and ideal for people of faith engaged in health systems by

emphasizing compassionate communitas, which can simply mean the practice of love in


community amid suffering. These insights show how a faith-based CSSP can influence society

because there seems a mismatch between how society and faith-based CSSPs treat people.

This concern matters because ideals can show what faith-based CSSPs, and perhaps even

society, need to guide systems change. Stories or photographs can illumine limen in-between

ideal and reality because they paint a brushstroke of the space in-between the pain and healing,

such as how I felt, reflected upon, and crafted meaning from my experience volunteering, and

how the visions inspired by pointing to a sign to follow amid the daily realities of faith-based

CSSPs. This study honored both my and participants’ visions. This research matters because no

other known study has merged idealized systems design with storycrafting and the visualization

of photographs to understand how people who support the work of a faith-based CSSP. This

study offers a unique and compelling picture of the space in-between reality and ideal for people

of faith engaged in health systems. The ideal involves compassionate communitas, and the

reality of suffering and aspiration that those who support the work of faith-based CSSP express.

This study approached faith-based CSSPs as a health system because they address quality

of life and basic needs for people in their locale. This study supported the faith-based CSSP to

envision an ideal for themselves that might transcend the constraints that they encounter as they

collaborate to triage the symptoms of modern society. I hope that I benefited participants via

motivational interviewing about the ideal image of a partnership, which can inspire them to

continue their work, and give them a reflective moment to consider meaning, what they need or

want to feel satisfied, and how these visions can propel their strategic plan and mission. These

reflective moments might seem refreshing as they work hard with the realities of suffering on a

regular basis. This study lent an opportunity to pause and reflect, and perhaps feel encouraged,

about what they do by realizing what propels their heartfelt and challenging work.


This study can indirectly benefit health systems by connecting disciplines and

methodologies not previously articulated in research, namely, organizational compassion and

anthropological communitas, and idealized systems design and storycrafting. Potential indirect

benefits include providing an integrated approach to storied systems design that uses story and

photography, and expressing understanding about the understudied field of faith-based CSSPs,

the contribution that they provide for society, and what they need to succeed with their efforts.

Definition of Terms

This study overlapped language from organizational compassion and anthropological

communitas. Briefly, liminality involves a movement from structures in society that separate

people from connection, belonging, and basic needs experienced as marginalization or ostracism

to a renewed sense of personhood and community, or complex wholeness (Fernandez, 1986; V.

W. Turner, 1987). People suffer pain from ostracism and transformation. Often, rituals and rites

of passage can reduce the harm of that pain by creating a socially and culturally accepted way to

move toward complex wholeness and away from separation. However, modern society has

limited the use of ritual and rites of passage and so confused resolution of suffering for how

people reconnect with themselves and each other (see Thomassen, 2014). Consequently,

socioeconomics runs amok needing resurgence of liminality as a framework for social systems

(see Thomassen, 2014). Organizational compassion provides a way to heal when suffering.

Compassion needs communitas and communitas needs compassion to function well. The

sectorial nature of partnership express odds with structures of society that separate people, and so

inflict the pain that faith-based CSSPs work hard to alleviate. The following sections define

compassionate communitas, which I applied for systems synthesis in Chapter 5.


Organizational Compassion

Organizational compassion involves how people come together to alleviate suffering at

organizations (Dutton et al., 2014; Frost, 1999; Kanov et al., 2004). The word roots of

compassion derive from passio (suffering) and com (with), or to suffer with, and functions as an

innate human instinct to survive and response to suffering ("Defining Compassion," 2013;

Keltner, Marsh, & Smith, 2010). This study relies on the CompassionLab’s (n.d.a, n.d.b)

definition of when people collectively notice, acknowledge, share, and express empathy and

concern when witnessing suffering, and then coordinate and sensecraft a response to that

suffering (Dutton et al., 2014; Kanov et al., 2004). Organizational compassion relates to CSSPs

that work to resolve suffering inflicted by lack of resources, such as basic human needs and

rights for food, shelter, health, employment, education, or social support (see Selsky & Parker,

2005). This lack of resources comes from structures in society that separate people from sharing

a place at the table with others who have resources. For instance, socioeconomic disparities

arguably create the clients whom faith-based CSSPs serve. These realities can result in suffering

for clients and an inhospitable context for faith-based CSSPs.

Liminal Communitas

Communitas comes from anthropology and involves how people transform from

individual to social identity after being ostracized due to structures that separate people from

connection with social groups and access to resources. People change roles through rites of

passage towards an essential human bond that binds society together, which differs from

community as a structure for common living (V. W. Turner, 1969) because the bond comes by

going through a process of pain. Community derives from Latin communitas, or "the quality of

common or shared" (Labonte, 2008, p. 84). This quality brings wholeness and builds community


as a multidimensional and dynamic system from which a living entity emerges whole (Walter,

2008). This complexity and dynamism can benefit from a systems approach.

Research can benefit from liminality as a social framework (Thomassen, 2014) because

of the essential human bond that happens when people come together towards and/or away

complex wholeness to react to how society separates them, such as through complex status

systems (Fernandez, 1986). Liminality carries structural implications that resonate with the work

that faith-based CSSPs do when people experience harm by a society that excludes them.

Research of limen needs to focus on the movement toward or away complex wholeness (V. W.

Turner, 1987). The complexity implies that wholeness, while ideal, happens through pain as

people marginalize others by creating structures that exclude people from basic needs and love.

Compassionate communitas sounds ideal, but it includes the experience of suffering when

groups marginalize others, such as wealth disparities that faith-based CSSPs encounter.

Limen, or threshold in Latin, involves that in-between time and experience when

individuals on the margins ritualize and interact with other such individuals, and so forge an

essential human bond, and communitas as a movement toward complex wholeness and away

from ostracism (V. W. Turner, 1967, 1969; van Gennep, 1909/1960). Limen refers to movement

as an in-between, an anti-structure, or the incapacity of any place or institution to fully hold the

holy, or set apart (Lane, 1986). Cultures hold the sacred and lowly with similarity and

togetherness (V. W. Turner, 1969) instead of disparity, and new leaders emerge (DeHart, 2008).

Liminality addresses critical concerns about how people try to heal together in an imperfect,

dysfunctional, and at times abusive society that ostracizes them from the resources and loving

connection that they need to thrive. Therefore, the complex wholeness does not state an ideal

because already embedded in the definition includes unjust pain, distress, and suffering.


Still, a wound needs treatment, and so people move towards or away complex wholeness

through rites of passage as they develop their identity with themselves and others who go

through similar adversity. The movement seems relative depending on the situation; if a person

moves away from the complex wholeness of a bowl of oranges and toward a bowl of apples, then

it’s not so much the thing toward which they move but that they realize the situation no longer

satisfies a need and choose to embark on a pathway to heal. In either case, V. W. Turner (1987),

the modern day liminal writer, advocated studying the movement as an in-between, an anti-

structure, or the incapacity of any place or institution to fully hold the holy, or set apart (Lane,

1986). Cultures hold the sacred and lowly with similarity and togetherness (V. W. Turner, 1969)

instead of disparity, and new leaders emerge (DeHart, 2008). For this study, the movement

toward complex wholeness matters, and I chose to express this movement in terms of

compassionate communitas in the stories, photographs, and visions because compassionate

communitas provides one way to understand why the complex in wholeness needs heart and

care. In idealized systems-speak, liminality involves the movement in-between reality and ideal,

which differs from organizational approaches that emphasize structure and operation as the

reality of partnerships. Namely, communitas needs compassion and vice-versa because of the

suffering and heart involved with the work that faith-based CSSPs do to address the pitfalls of a

lack of synthesis of human and social service systems, and a society that needs them.

Research Questions

This study asked two research questions.

(RQ1): What is the ideal vision of a faith-based cross-sector social partnership (CSSP)

for people who support this type of health system?


(RQ2): What do the stories, photographs, and visions express about compassionate

communitas of a faith-based cross-sector social partnership (CSSP)?

Conceptual Connections

This study relied on compassionate communitas as a loving and communal way to

approach faith-based CSSPs and to envision an ideal partnership. Organizational compassion

and communitas connect with each other as understudied responses for a faith-based CSSP.

Thomassen (2014) suggested liminality as a social framework to correct the errors of modern

society lacking liminal process. This study connects organizational compassion with

communitas as faith-based CSSPs come together amid constraints to move away from the

structures that perpetuate the need for human and social services, and toward the ideal of

expressing faith as a loving and engaged communal society. How society moves toward or away

complex wholeness becomes the research focus for liminality (V. W. Turner, 1987).

Compassion can answer society's pressing needs (Stosny, 1995, 2004, 2008) by bringing

people together instead of reacting with competition, ostracism, or destructive conflict as

previous social identity theories have found (see Abrams & Hogg, 1990; Greenberg,

Pyszczynski, & Solomon, 1986; Greenberg et al., 1990; Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Rosko, 2010;

Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991; Tajfel, & Turner, 1979). Contributors of a faith-

based CSSPs might experience suffering as frustration, misalignment, or fatigue from a

socioeconomic system that drives the disparities that CSSPs try to alleviate or change, and with

norms of for-profit organizing that mismatch faith-based CSSP’s higher-level concerns (see

Ployhart & Hale, 2014). The dimensions of compassionate communitas provide a higher-level

lens for how the stories, photographs, and conversations express compassionate communitas.


Mismatch of Modern For-Profit Organizing

The following sections explain tensions between modern structures bent on separation at

odds with the spiritual yearning for connection as to why faith-based CSSPs need research that

supports their ideal visions of partnerships. For example, the context of the faith-based CSSP

involves a socioeconomic environment of modern for-profit organizing, neoliberalism, and lack

of access to resources for many people because of growing global wealth disparity (Monbiot,

2016, April 15). How society ostracizes others breaks down the integrity of a system and inflicts

suffering by separating people from basic needs and love. Modern structures replace liminal

rituals that can yield safe passage from separation to connection resulting in socioeconomic

fallout, which necessitates the work of faith-based CSSPs. Society can approach economics as

though people matter (Schumacher, 1973). Compassionate communitas and ideals of faith-based

CSSPs treat people as though they matter, especially when vulnerable from ostracism.

Clients of faith-based CSSPs suffer homelessness, hunger, and isolation. Concentrated

poverty umbrellas the regional suffering that local faith-based CSSPs encounter, such as lack of

access to jobs, decent schools, and other resources that impede people from rising out of the

poverty cycle (see M. Brown, 2015; Cortright, 2014). A study of the United States' poorest

urban neighborhoods over four decades expressed that the number of high poverty poor has

doubled from two to four million, and the number of high poverty neighborhoods has nearly

tripled from 1,100 to 3,100 (M. Brown, 2015; Cortright, 2014). Modern structures arguably

reinforce this suffering when they ostracize people from access to resources to maintain profit.

This intersectional problem creates disparities to the increasing human and social needs that

CSSPs encounter. For example, structures that ostracize people from access to resources based

on class also divide based on race, which disadvantages people's health and quality of life


(California Newsreel & Vital Pictures, 2008; Public Broadcasting Station, 2008; U.C.L.A., 2012;

U. C. Regents, 2017). Modern structures mismatch the fluidity for liminality to happen. The

mismatch and the socioeconomic disparities become the suffering that faith-based CSSPs face.

Faith-based CSSPs react to their environment (reality) while responding to their faith-

informed values (ideals). Faith-based CSSPs respond to an environment of modern structures

that wreak systemic wounds. Tensions arise for CSSPs inadvertently desiring to change the

status quo of wealth disparity that arguably relies on modern for-profit norms for organizing.

For example, corporate philanthropy does not address the systemic causes of social concerns

(Einstein, 2012), and yet partnerships engage the private sector and the state because of a

capitalist economy (Farquharson, de Mästle, & Yescombe, 2011; O’Riain, 2000; Selsky &

Parker, 2005). Faith-based CSSPs might organize after for-profit models employed for business

to receive value from donors, such as with a board of directors, fundraising galas, and donation

drives. These approaches can limit the ideals of faith-based CSSPs, such as including all people

of varying wealth at their events because their clients cannot afford to attend the higher ticket

prices of galas needing venues, donations from local businesses on auction items, and catering.

These tensions can discourage or frustrate those supporting faith-based CSSP and limit their

efforts to improve how society includes and cares for people peer-to-peer as spiritual kin.

Global Context of Wealth Disparity for Faith-Based CSSPs

Global norms add pressure to faith-based CSSPs because of modern structures that

replace spiritual connection with separation. The mismatch happens because a faith-based

organization, such as a church that contributes to a faith-based CSSP, may believe that structure

should reflect a living person who loves God and neighbor (Train Church Leaders, 2017), who

connect with each other as a body (1 Cor. 12:27) united and one in spirit (1 Cor. 6:17) because


God adopted them as family (Eph. 1:5). For instance, the early church organized as kin who

shared resources to meet basic needs in love to free them to worship God (Acts 4-6) with kinship

language that distinguished them from the culture and politics of the time (Ascough, 2002). In

contrast, disparity of structure, status, and resources inflicts suffering on the those whom faith-

based CSSPs serve. This pain continues as a systemic ostracism on a global level.

Globally, the wealth divide has widened. Oxfam found that 62 people hold more wealth

than half of world's population (Elliot, 2016; Hardoon, Ayele, & Fuentes-Nieva, 2016; Peck,

2016). Some expect this trend to continue with wealth of the top 1 % as more than half the

wealth combined of 99% of people projected from 2014-2016. This extreme inequality has hurt

economic growth (BBC, 2015; Oxfam, 2015; Slater, 2015). Decreases in quality jobs and social

services pressure humanitarian and faith organizations to provide more lay social workers for

more countries with increasing client populations to meet more needs, and to provide new

services to respond to ongoing problems (Raymond, 2011), which means a lot of pressure.

Wealth disparity provides a main challenge that CSSPs encounter. Faith-based CSSPs

address suffering through congregational human and social work, which I recognize as a type of

health system. Partnerships exist around the world and not only in the United States (UN) (Liese

& Beisheim, 2011; Nelson & Zadek, 2000). The United Nations goals relate to the human and

social service work because of access to resources, such as food, education, and health care. The

United Nations' Millennium Development Goals have framed global needs for social work

(United Nations, 2010). These goals underscore suffering due to structural separation: (1)

eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; (2) achieve universal primary education; (3) promote

gender equality and empower women; (4) reduce child mortality; (5) improve maternal health;

(6) fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; (7) ensure environmental sustainability; and,


(8) globally partner for development (United Nations, 2010). Numerous jobs for social workers

have resulted from these goals as the need for more advocates, community organizers, policy

developers, administrators, lobbyists, social development experts, relief agents, crisis

interventionists, therapists, and counselors (Raymond, 2011).

The UN goals relate to the work of faith-based CSSPs on a local and international level

because faith-based CSSPs often engage in mission work to alleviate suffering listed by the UN.

For instance, for the first goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and the eighth goal to

globally partner for development, Church World Service engages an annual crop walk by

partnering with local churches. In the last 20 years, over five million walkers raised money to

end hunger with 25% of funds going to local food services, and 75% to rural areas worldwide

(Church World Service, n.d.). For the third goal to promote gender equality and empower

women, and the fourth and fifth goals for peripartum and antenatal support and international

birth missions, faith-based CSSPs can support numerous anti-trafficking, abuse recovery centers,

parenting support, schools, microloan and business programs (e.g., Care Net, n.d.; Christian

Midwives International, 2008; Global Ministries, 2017; Lutheran Counseling Network, 2017).

For the seventh goal to ensure environmental sustainability, some faith organizations do projects

for solar panels, church gardens, energy efficient buildings, and climate change to elevate the

stewardship of kinship to connection of people with creation for current and future generations

(e.g., The Episcopal Church, 2017). Regarding universal primary education, some congregations

create private education emphasizing affordability, diversity, and global influence while meeting

state and national academic standards while practicing spiritual beliefs (e.g., Evangelical

Lutheran Church in America, 2017; The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, 2017). Faith-based

CSSPs support the eighth goal for development via local and international efforts with social


justice overtones especially related to the injustice of poverty and racism (e.g., Church World

Service, n.d.). One organization overlaps some of these goals in tandem with their spiritual

vision by planting churches, affordable housing, ministry in the marketplace, business as

missions, and evangelical events around the world (Global Ministries Foundation, 2017). These

organizations of faith often do the work well before the UN outlined goals.

Yet, faith-based CSSPs can find themselves caught in-between growing needs arising

from a world that ostracizes people from access to basic human needs and love by using models

for organizing that mismatch their spiritual ideals and vision for healthy and spiritual connection.

It often happens that CSSPs risk gambling religious identity if they conform to socioeconomic

and modern norms for organizing (Minow, 2003a, 2003b; O’Riain, 2000). For example, galas

exclude the clients and volunteers that faith-based CSSPs may want to include to bring in

donation money from people better off, even if marginally so. I want to know how the visions,

stories, and photographs synthesize as compassionate communitas.

Previous Research about CSSPs

Faith-based CSSPs exist to triage wounds in society. CSSPs often partner for ideology to

substitute what other sectors lack, or they naturally partner as a third way to govern (Linder &

Rosenau, 2000; Salamon, 1987; Selsky & Parker, 2005; Young, 2000). The many thousands of

subnational cross-sector partnerships by region, province, city, neighborhood (Nelson & Zadek,

2000) often lack research attention (e.g., Otiso, 2003). We do not know how CSSPs translate

beyond modern operational distinctions. This study built a bridge to other possibilities because

no known studies have approached faith-based CSSPs as a health system via (a) storied idealized

systems design and (b) compassionate communitas. Early on, scholars noted a need for a

comprehensive theory to analyze how organizations collaborate, but often these approaches


assumed conflict as a catalyst to collaboration (Gray, 1985; Gray & Wood, 1991) or emphasized

the effects of collaboration on development and performance (House, Rousseau, & Thomas-

Hunt, 1995). One meta-literature reviewer explored studies conducted from 1960-1990 and

found that organizations partnered when they needed each other, aligned or reciprocated with

each other’s goals, shared efficiency or stability, or perceived legitimacy over each other’s goals

(Meidute & Paliulis, 2011; Oliver, 1990). However, the operational motif for organizational

research while needed does not support a complete picture of systems that come together for

ideals of wholeness, love, and community of faith-based CSSPs.

Further, introductory scholarship about CSSPs emphasized the structural platform or

reasons for partnering, but did not necessarily explain what helps the CSSP as a health system to

accomplish ideals, dissolve social problems, and influence society. Researchers have explained

how partnerships form, implement, and generate results, such as by initial conditions to

cooperate (Doz, 1996) and through communication, behavior, and conflict resolution (Googins &

Rochlin, 2000; Gray, 1989; Greening & Gray, 1994; Mohr & Spekman, 1994; Selsky & Parker,

2005; Waddell & Brown, 1997; Westley & Vredenburg, 1997). Other studies have focused on

legal concerns, procedures, agreements, and contracts to outline the partnership (Pongsiri, 2002),

or how managers work together for mutually beneficial agreements (Milliman & Grosskopf,

2004). These themes depend on modern structures. Research that does examine other factors,

such as trust and power, or political symbols and policy tools, have emphasized timing or

partners’ orientation towards what will help them to create ideological commitments (Selsky &

Parker, 2005). These studies did not focus on spiritual or affective partnering, let alone with

faith-based overtones. This study adds compassionate communitas to support the loving and

communal work that faith-based CSSPs do based on spiritual and affective ideals.


In contrast, previous studies often used modern for-profit language, such as competitive

advantage (Ployhart & Hale, 2014) and so mismatched faith-based CSSPs because

congregation(s) that start CSSPs likely began their engagement with affective or spiritual

motivations. Compassionate communitas provides an ideal beyond competitive advantage, and

the participants expressed their visions. Storied systems design of partnerships with

compassionate communitas addresses higher-level concerns that suit faith-based CSSPs because

faith-based CSSPs show a softer side of partnering as an integrated health system (see Nambisan,

2009). Faith-based CSSPs need attention to themes that match their ideals because these themes

seem understudied in research about CSSPs. Compassionate communitas provides one theme.

These local and global contexts arguably perpetuate the problems that faith-based CSSPs

face because of the structures that force faith-based organizations to comply with modern norms

that ostracize people from resources and human connection. This context unwittingly shows up

in how research studies and talks about partnerships. For instance, previous research about

partnerships has utilized operation, management, and modern motifs. Scholarship has framed

partnering from a modern structural perspective (e.g., Kaye, 2013; Kivleniece & Quelin, 2012;

Koschmann, Kuhn, & Pfarrer, 2012; Le Ber & Branzei, 2010), save one emphasis on connecting

relationships for social change (Lanfer, Brandes, & Reinelt, 2013). Researchers have explored

how strategic alliances provided collective goods in developing countries (Liese & Beisheim,

2011), managed the global double burden of malnutrition (Kraak et al., 2012), revitalized United

States infrastructure (Engel, Fischer, & Galetovic, 2011), provided policy-driven education for

low-income contexts (Verger, 2012), and generated value (Kivleniece & Quelin, 2012).

Researchers have weighed operational outcomes, such as how to engage the private sector in

emerging markets (Farquharson et al., 2011), account financially for strategic alliance structure


(Heald & Georgiou, 2011), manage feasibility (Meidute & Paliulis, 2011) and risk amid team

tensions (Iossa & Martimort, 2012; Solansky, Beck, & Travis, 2014), how to successfully

communicate to deliver goals (Koschmann et al., 2012), and the accountability paradox that

arises with collaborative agreements (Willems & Van Dooren, 2011). Research has described

CSSPs from modern operational concerns, such as dependence on each other to distribute public

resources, to achieve a public good, and to collaborate to solve social problems (Clarke & Fuller,

2010; Nambisan, 2009; Shirey, 2013). These studies, while operationally helpful, come from

modern structures that can ostracize and marginalize people.

In short, the task merits meeting basic needs with love for spiritual connection instead of

the separation that modern structures seem to reinforce, and with research that expresses in

discourse and practice the ideals of a faith-based CSSP. Faith-based CSSPs need research that

supports movement towards complex wholeness and away from structural separation so that they

can accomplish their ideals for society. Compassionate communitas and storied systems design

seem to better suit faith-based CSSPs. Compassionate communitas offers a loving and

communal way to express faith-based CSSPs because (1) the literature lacks a storied idealized

systems design that synthesizes compassionate communitas, (2) practice lacks a mode to

integrate story into idealized systems design, and (3) faith-based CSSPs need more attention in

the literature to add creativity and richness to Selsky and Parker’s (2005, 2010) introduction of

CSSPs. Appendices A-C include tables that visualize these themes.

Summary and Organization

The purview of poverty matters because anyone concerned about the stability of society

needs attention to the context of the work that faith-based CSSPs do, and faith-based CSSPs need

a design that honors and supports the ideals that they hold dear. This chapter contextualized this


study by describing the context of research and practice that faith-based CSSPs encounter.

Storied systems design can support the heart of faith-based CSSPs by synthesizing participant

conversations about the ideal partnership with my reflective short stories and photographs from

volunteering through the theoretical lens of compassionate communitas.

Next, Chapter 2 will describe seminal data sources and conceptual and empirical findings

for organizational compassion (Theme 1), liminal communitas (Theme 2), and faith-based

CSSPs (Theme 3). Chapter 3 will present research questions and procedures, and explain design

rationale. Chapter 4 will synthesize the stories, photographs, and visions via the dimensions of

compassionate communitas. Chapter 5 will answer the research questions, provide an image of

ideal partnership, conclude with future directions, implications, ethical considerations, and

limitations, and will also share reflections, post-doctorate directions, and closing remarks.



This literature review synthesized theoretical foundations and empirical findings for

organizational compassion and anthropological communitas of faith-based CSSPs who

collaborate to provide human and social services. This literature review searched for

connections between organizational compassion, communitas, and faith-based CSSPs.

Conceptual Foundations

This study answers Smith's (1759/1976) call for research to recognize empathy and

compassion as vital to organizational life (Dutton & Workman, 2012; Frost, 1999; Lilius, Kanov,

Dutton, Worline, & Maitlis, 2013). According to the CompassionLab, organizational

compassion involves how people (1) collectively notice, acknowledge, share, and express felt

empathic concern, (2) coordinate a response to pain in organizations (Kanov et al., 2004), and (3)

sense-craft the experience (Dutton et al., 2014). Communitas derives from anthropology as

people transition when ostracized by going through rites of passage towards a new individual and

communal identity that expresses a movement toward/away complex wholeness (Fernandez,

1986; V. W. Turner, 1987). This ostracism often involves structural norms (Fernandez, 1986).

This experience forges an essential human bond that binds society together, which differs

from community as a structure for common living (V. W. Turner, 1969). The bond with self and

communitas means wholeness. V. W. Turner (1987) encouraged researchers to study the

movement toward or away wholeness, or communitas. Compassionate communitas connects to

answer my value for how people can ideally move toward compassionate communitas, which

relates to the work that faith-based CSSPs do to care for others through human and social

services because of suffering that people experience due to lack of resources. This lack of access

to resources implies a type of structural ostracism. This ostracism matters because norms in a


system may prevent people from transition and deny them access to basic human rights (Sargent

& Larchanché-Kim, 2006), such as housing, food, and care.

Review of the Literature

This review covers organizational compassion, communitas, and faith-based CSSPs.

Theme One: Organizational Compassion

The heart seems wired for compassion as a human instinct to survive (Keltner et al.,

2010). Aligning the head, heart, and hands remains a call for practitioners (Nizer, 1948). Yet,

we know little about how to organize compassionate health systems that move towards a vision

of partnership for society. Social scholarship seems to emphasize ostracism as triggered from

threats of mortality and fear of others who differ in culture or worldview (Abrams & Hogg,

1990; Greenberg et al., 1986; Greenberg et al., 1990; Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Rosko, 2010, 2015;

Solomon et al., 1991; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Instead, research can show how to move towards

ideals. Instead, research can show how to move towards ideals. For instance, Wheatley (2000)

suggested discovering possibilities by organizing compassion. Organizational compassion

happens whether or not an organization values compassion because counterpoint to previous

social identity theories (Rosko, 2010), humans instinctively show compassion to survive by

helping others (Keltner et al., 2010; Stosny as cited in Capuzzi Simon, 2005).

Compassion involves suffering as suffering with because suffering catalyzes compassion,

and we need to study compassion for organizations because of the reality of suffering (Dutton et

al., 2014; Frost, 1999; Kouzes & Posner, 2003). The ideal for compassion expresses the reality

of suffering, which means that compassion becomes necessary because of suffering. Ideally,

people can construct a positive self and social identity (Dutton, Roberts, & Bednar, 2010) to

transform work (Dutton, Lilius, & Kanov, 2007) by coordinating, cooperating, and collaborating


their compassionate responses. These efforts rely on people’s ability to relate with each other

and to perform tasks (Lilius et al., 2011). However, the reality of a system that makes suffering

normal can limit the expression and triumph of compassion. For example, Westerners tend to

assume that they will experience compassion as a pleasant or positive emotion.

Still, responding to suffering can elicit unpleasant feelings, which can increase

compassionate response the most (Condon & Feldman Barrett, 2013). These efforts can satisfy

and deplete people with burnout and fatigue because of the constraints of behaving

compassionately at work (Frost, 1999; Lilius, 2012). For instance, a cultural bent toward

narcissism, due in part to the self-esteem movement (Neff, 2011a, 2011b, 2013), modern

organization, and socioeconomic disparities can impede compassion. Constraints for faith-based

CSSPs include burnout, fatigue, and environmental tensions with modern for-profit organizing

and the socioeconomics disparities that drive the need for human and social services.

Development of organizational compassion. This study relies on the CompassionLab’s

(n.d.a, n.d.b) definition of organizational compassion or how people collectively notice,

acknowledge, share, and express felt empathic concern, coordinate, and sense-craft a response to

pain in organizations (Kanov et al., 2004; Dutton et al., 2014), and a collective, prosocial, and

responsive process (Center for Positive Organizations, n.d.). The late Peter Frost co-founded the

CompassionLab (CompassionLab, n.d.a, n.d.b). Researchers have included Jane Dutton who has

studied how compassion supports employees' capabilities and organizational performance

(CompassionLab, n.d.a, n.d.b). Jason Kanov has studied the nature and influence of suffering

and compassion within organizations, and Jacoba Lilius has focused on how frontline workers

recover from emotional demands of work and how compassion for clients can motivate workers

to voice suggestions for improving organizations (CompassionLab, n.d.a, n.d.b). Sally Maitlis’


work on caring practices and emotionwork aims to support individuals and teams to perform well

by sense-crafting life events (CompassionLab, n.d.a, n.d.b). Kristina Workman has studied

skilled people’s capacity to notice, feel, and respond to the suffering of others, and how sufferers

influence how compassion unfolds (CompassionLab, n.d.a, n.d.b).

Elsewhere, researchers have connected emotions and prosocial responses with individual

or organizational well-being. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

(CCARE, 2014a) at Stanford University School of Medicine emphasizes individual and

organizational benefits of compassion. DeSteno (2013) has studied how emotions guide

decisions including the moral and economic behaviors that people need to live socially, such as

compassion and trust, for the greater good. DeSteno (2015a) distinguished compassion from

empathy with compassion as an emotional state that motivates altruistic action to build social

capital. The action becomes paramount to compassion.

Compassion can accompany social motivations and rewards at the level of neuroscience

(Kim et al., 2009), which suggests the ingrained and naturalness of compassionate behavior.

People can develop compassion intentionally, too, such as via meditation and training, and so

people can learn compassion to optimize their social actions (DeSteno, 2015a; Lutz,

Brefczynski-Lewis, Johnstone, & Davidson, 2008; Lutz, Greischar, Perlman, & Davidson, 2009;

Weng et al., 2013). However, the ideal of compassion enacted at the organizational level may

not necessarily change the structures in society that inflict systemic suffering as a norm, such as

for clients of faith-based CSSPs. Scholarship about organizational compassion can build from

conceptualizing the construct to how to design systems for and as compassionate communitas.

Earlier work about emotions. Researching organizational compassion resonates with

earlier work involving emotions. Emotions can cue what people value, and people rely on


emotions to socially interact (DeSteno, 2013, 2015a; Pugmire, 1994, 2005). Fineman (2000)

described emotions as a resource that forms, interprets, and alters relationships in organizations.

Pugmire (2005) claimed that people need four conditions to experience profound or deep

emotions, although it’s not clear at which age Pugmire believed people experience deep emotion:

(a) a robust cognitive belief, (b) synthesis with broader experience and interest, (c) realistic

understanding, and (d) emotional strength. Organizational researchers have described emotions

as influencing the structure of informal workplace networks (Casciaro, Carley, & Krackhardt,

1999; Casciaro & Lobo, 2005, 2008, 2012). Fineman (2003) explained organizations as

emotional arenas shaped by feelings and events as suggested by Weiss and Cropanzano's (1996)

affective event theory or that emotional events influence behavior and attitudes at work (Lopez-

Kidwell, 2013). Researchers have found that such interpersonal events influenced people’s well-

being at work (Basch & Fisher, 2000; Bono, Foldes, Vinson, & Muros, 2007).

These researchers transitioned norms in inquiry to notice emotions as necessary for social

cooperation instead of pitting emotions against cognition. How researchers discover a result for

social psychology of emotions matters just as much as the finding(s) (Parrott, 2001). In contrast,

researchers seem to have tended to value cognition over emotions, which limits research by

applying calculated reasoning to social decision-making (Krueger, Evans, & Goldin, 2010). A

similar limit applies to problematizing a topic or empiricism that searches for hard facts by

studying separate parts of individuals without synthesizing the context or whole. For instance,

Damasio (1994) explained Descartes' (1644/1983) "I think therefore I am" as an error of

separating the mind from the body (Barbelet, 2001; Lopez-Kidwell, 2013). Damasio departed

from this reductionism by proposing that reasoning and moral judgment and emotional or

physical suffering connect with, and do not separate from, cognition. Emotions' purposes aid,


and do not necessarily hinder, social decisions (Haselton & Ketelaar, 2006). How people choose

to act on a given emotion towards themselves or others may be the important focus. These

notions counter popular beliefs that ostracize emotion from rationality to elevate cognition.

Research needs to include emotions for how people make decisions and treat each other.

Researchers have distinguished compassion from other emotions. For instance, writers

have distinguished between compassion and empathy. Empathy refers to how people think or

feel when they respond to what they observe as an emotional experience from someone else

(Olderbak, Sassenrath, Keller, & Wilhelm, 2014). Empathy means taking on the perspective of

another to connect; whereas, sympathy implies distance (B. Brown, 2013), which can wreak

shame by judging a person’s vulnerability (B. Brown, 2012a, 2012b). In contrast, empathy tells

people how to successfully communicate and interact with others (Olderbak et al., 2014). For

instance, Radcliffe (1994) explained compassion as arising from an imaginative state and based

this explanation on the gospel of God's love for humankind. This love makes it possible for

people to imagine and step into others' suffering as a process to motivate compassionate action.

The imaginative state means empathy as a feeling expresses cognitive or instinctive future

visioning and action for the well-being of others. Consistent in these explanations involves

people respond to suffering with decision, action, and feeling.

Defining the experience of compassion. Prior to organizational compassion, writers

defined compassion as an individual response. Tracy (2010) explained compassion as

recognizing, relating, and responding to others. People need compassion to maintain

relationships of caring and to help those suffering (Kim et al., 2009). Meloni (2014) synthesized

previous definitions of compassion as feeling with and distinguished compassion from pity. For

example, compassion differs from sympathy (see Scheler, 1954) because sympathy can shame


people via distance and judgment; whereas, empathy expresses concern (B. Brown, 2013).

Meloni explained compassion as the strongest form of commiseration with love as the highest

order. Bein (2013) brought forward Schopenhauer's (1958) definition of compassion as people

participating with the suffering of another and the desire to prevent or stop that suffering. Reilly

(2010) explained compassion as the basis for voluntary justice and true loving-kindness, and that

actions only provide moral value when originating from compassion. Snow (1991) interpreted

Bloom's (2000) definition of compassion as an emotion that society needs when people

reasonably believe that they are feeling compassion when they witness another person’s

suffering and so can anticipate that the suffering could happen to the witness, too, who then feels

motivated to urgently act to alleviate the other person's suffering (Bloom, 2000; Snow, 1991).

Keltner et al. (2010) described this type of responding as a human instinct to survive socially.

Nussbaum (1996) qualified these understandings by suggesting that people need to

experience vulnerability before they can demonstrate compassion and suggested four conditions

for compassionate action: (1) the person feeling compassion (C-feeler) perceives the other's

suffering as sufficiently serious and (2) as not deserved (justice); (3) the C-feeler believes that

the suffering could happen to them, too (empathy/imaginative state), and (4) cares about the

person’s well-being because the sufferer matters to the C-feeler (concern). Jinpa, a Tibetan

scholar, put this reasoning more simply as "I understand you, I feel for you, and I want to help

you" (as cited in Bein, 2013, p. 88). Bein (2013) simplified Solomon's (1993, 2004) definition of

compassion as other-regarding and a mode of having emotions, and not a single emotion. Snow

(1991) defined compassion as a rational and emotional response. These definitions moralize

compassion as an emotional and social response when witnessing another person’s suffering.


Operationalizing compassion. Organizational compassion assumes that suffering

influences well-being, relationships, and performance at work (Dutton et al., 2014). Researchers

have validated compassion for the self. Neff (2003a, 2003b, 2015) conceived self-compassion as

(1) self-kindness or being kind and understanding toward oneself during pain or failure instead of

being harshly self-critical; (2) common humanity, or perceiving one's experiences as part of the

larger human experience instead of as isolating; and, (3) mindfulness, or holding painful

thoughts and feelings in awareness instead of over-identifying with them. This trifecta can help

a person to experience self-compassion in an immediate situation (Neff, 2015).

People can learn self-compassion, too. Researchers found that participants enhanced

self-compassion, mindfulness, and well-being when trained to do so because self-compassion

better predicted reduction in severity of symptoms and improved the quality of life for persons

experiencing anxiety and depression than did mindfulness alone (Neff & Germer, 2013; Van

Dam, Sheppard, Forsyth, & Earleywine, 2011). Self-compassion researchers have developed

interventions to increase self-compassion. In one study, participants experienced significant

decreases in depression, self-attacking, shame, and feelings of inferiority after participating in

the program (Gilbert & Procter, 2006). Kabat-Zinn's (1991, 1994) mindfulness-based stress

reduction (MBSR) program has also improved people’s self-compassion because mindfulness

teaches people to notice difficult thoughts and emotions in the moment so that they can

experience kindness, acceptance, and non-judgment (Neff, 2011a; Shapiro, Astin, Bishop, &

Cordova, 2005; Shapiro, Brown, & Biegel, 2007). Researchers have developed self-compassion

training for people who display insecure attachment patterns (Neff & McGehee, 2010). A group-

based therapy intervention called compassionate mind training (CMT) teaches people self-

compassion to replace habits of self-attack as a way to relate to themselves (Gilbert, 2009).


Researchers have also improved the accessibility of scales by testing the 12-item Self-

Compassion Scale-Short Form (SCS-SF) (Raes, Pommier, Neff, & Van Gucht, 2011). This

study offers a unique way of storying organizational compassion.

Organizational compassion. Connection and action matter to compassionate

communitas. Beyond a feeling, compassion as a collective response helps people to connect

with others, even if relatively simple (DeSteno, 2012). Organizational compassion, a collective

phenomenon, occurs as a human instinct to survive socially instead of defensively (Keltner, et

al., 2010) when people help others to help themselves (Wuthnow, 1991). Responding

compassionately can involve communicating in response to another's suffering, such as

nonverbally acknowledging the presence of someone, providing praise, or other caring behaviors

(Keltner, 2010; Tracy, 2010). Researchers continue to develop ways to study compassion for

organizations. Researchers have developed scales for interpersonal empathy and compassion

(see CCARE, 2014), for example, Sprecher’s (2005) Compassionate Love Scale (CLS). Other

scales include the Fear of Compassion (3 fears: for self, for others, and from others) (Gilbert,

McEwan, Matos, & Rivis, 2011), Submissive Compassion (Catarino, Gilbert, McEwan, & Baião,

2014), Santa Clara Brief Compassion (SCBCS) for large epidemiological studies (Hwang,

Plante, & Lackey, 2008), Compassion Satisfaction Fatigue Test for mental health workers

(Figley, 1995; Stamm, 2002), Professional Quality of Life (ProQOL R-V) for a version of the

Compassion Fatigue Test (Hudnall Stamm, 2009), and the Friendship Compassion and Self-

Image Goals Scale (Crocker & Canevello, 2008) (CCARE, 2014).

In 2013, the Greater Good Science Center (n.d.) partnered with the CompassionLab and

the University of Michigan's Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship to develop a

Compassionate Organizations Quiz, which asked readers about experiences of compassion in an


organization (Center for Positive Organizations, n.d.; CompassionLab, n.d.b; Simon-Thomas &

Nauman, 2013). Researchers learned that the type of organization mattered for compassion:

community service, education, government, legal, business, and media with media organizations

ranking the lowest, and places of worship ranked mid-range for a compassion score (Simon-

Thomas & Nauman, 2013). Age also mattered with 18-29 and 60-70, and older age groups

presenting the most experience with a compassionate organization.

The size of the organization mattered with people in large organizations experiencing less

compassion, and the smaller the organization, or up to 1,000 people, ranked high, and location

might matter due to cultural values for love of humanity (Simon-Thomas & Nauman, 2013). For

instance, participants in the Southwest reported greater love of humanity than did quiz takers

from other areas of the United States (Simon-Thomas, 2013; Simon-Thomas & Nauman, 2013).

These relationships suggest that the structure and design of organizations and the demographics

of contributors influence the experience of organizational compassion. However, stories can

express rich detail that the quizzes and surveys may miss.

Compassionate organizations can support quality of life and performance. Suttie (2006)

found that compassionate workplaces increased employee satisfaction and loyalty because an

employee who felt cared for more likely experienced positive emotions, which fostered positive

work relationships, increased cooperation, and improved customer relations (Suttie, 2015).

Compassion training for individuals reduced stress (Suttie, 2015). In one dissertation, Meloni

(2014) described how organizational compassion counterpointed tensions, such as resource

scarcity, improved employer-employee relations and organizational resilience, and helped

employees to view work positively, work harder for their employer, and produce higher quality

results. Organizational compassion also provided an appropriate response to help organizations


to move forward after difficult events or circumstances (Meloni, 2014; Patti, 2013). Kouzes and

Posner (2014) explained compassion as a positive emotional experience that can increase hope.

Compassion as moral sentiment. Conversation about ethics comes into play when

considering compassion for health systems, such as faith-based CSSPs. Solomon (1993, 2004)

described compassion as a natural moral sentiment that varies and limits, but does not reduce to

pity. Tensions exist for distinguishing between seemingly positive or negative emotions.

Scholar-practitioners can value compassion and empathy as an ethic of care and as a necessary

and natural altruistic counterpoint to self-interest (André, 2013), even if people regard

compassion as bad for business (Hamington & Sander-Staudt, 2011). For example, Noble Prize

winners promoted a pluralist humanity, where Amartya Sen and Muhammad Yunus included

both self-interest and selflessness as coexisting human traits (Sen, 1988; Yunus, 2010).

Economic concerns with human nature become multidimensional (Skinner, 2011) and depend on

self-interest and ritual (Tarde, 1902-1903, 1903; Thomassen, 2014).

These philosophies respond in part to Nietzsche's (1918) criticism of transvaluation of all

values, or when people reduce seemingly negative values of self-interest, and affirm seemingly

positive values, such as altruism, as fabric of the human experience and moral code. People can

improve cognitive thinking, expand perspective, explore new possibilities, notice options,

increase creativity and innovation, make careful decisions, and improve interpersonal

effectiveness with positive emotional experiences (Fredrickson, 2009). Yet, people can also hold

complex emotions together, such as how compassion needs suffering (Sermeno, 2015). This

insight sheds light on researching systems via storied systems design because the ideals and

constraints need each other to coexist. Complex emotions happen in a broken world.


In modern times, organizational compassion can function to love others (see Sprecher,

2005). Leading with love, forgiveness, and trust frees people to share power (Caldwell & Dixon,

2010; Kahane, 2010). For instance, the practices of humane leadership demonstrate love,

forgiveness, and trust. Leaders who practice these virtues can maximize performance, such as by

obligatory social contracts for valuing others, covenantal stewardship, relinquishing personal

power or control, acceptance of others' limitations, and treating others as ends instead of means

(Caldwell & Dixon, 2010). This ethos resonates with E. Brown's (2013) insight that

vulnerability functions as a basis for organizational ethics, and so organizations need to develop

people as a managerial imperative (P. T. Brown, 2010).

Interestingly, a person may not need empathy to show compassion, but compassionate

action. Lim, Condon, and DeSteno (2015) suggested that mindful compassionate behavior does

not depend on people’s ability to understand the emotional experiences of others. Therefore,

empathy may not be as necessary for people to respond with compassion as previously thought

(see Kanov et al., 2004; Seppälä, 2013). Emotions show people what matters to them (see

Pugmire, 1994). Compassionate action can increase with learning and practice. For instance,

participants who completed mindfulness meditation training responded with compassion more

frequently than did the control group, but not with increased empathic accuracy (Lim et al.,

2015). This implication allows for possibilities for training compassion in organizations.

Compassion amid suffering. Researchers can consider suffering as the context for

organizational compassion because of the emphasis on a collective response to suffering (Dutton

et al., 2014; Kanov et al., 2004). In liminal thought, suffering involves movement away from

ostracism and towards wholeness (V. W. Turner, 1987), or complex community (Fernandez,

1986). For faith-based CSSPs, this suffering can come from structures for socioeconomics and


organizing that depend on for-profit norms and disparities that ostracize people from access to

resources, and from the burnout of few workers for many needs. These norms arguably

perpetuate the suffering that human and social services work hard to alleviate.

Research and practice about compassion relates to how faith-based CSSPs deliver

services. Previous researchers found that compassion may correlate with resilience amid

adversity because strong social relationships predict long-term psychological well-being

(DeSteno, 2015b; Lim & DeSteno, 2016). However, DeSteno (2015b) wrote that adversity can

make people both more and less compassionate. Making it through adversity can soften and

warm hearts because suffering heightens people’s compassion for others, except when the

suffering feels too familiar or triggers memories of painful events (DeSteno, 2015b; Lim &

DeSteno, 2016; Ruttan, McDonnell, & Nordgren, 2015). For instance, faith-based CSSPs that

rely on donation appeals may limit compassionate responding.

People’s physiological response to donation appeals can predict their charitable giving

with fade and affect or when people feel overwhelmed or depleted by too much need being put

before them (Barrazaa, Alexandera, Beavina, Terrisa, & Zaka, 2015). Compassion fatigue can

lead to apathy and inaction when people repeatedly respond to large-scale human and

environmental catastrophes (Västfjäll, Slovic, Mayorga, & Peters, 2014). People give to the first

life in need, yet they burn out with scenarios of multiple lives lost (Västfjäll et al., 2014). People

oriented to avoidant attachment may need to engage in less emotional cost, or they might help

less, and so may respond better to donation requests less targeted to their emotions (Richman,

DeWall, & Wolff, 2016). Leaders can transform adversity of suffering into an opportunity by

engaging others and demonstrating care, which can sustain organizations and reduce turnover

(Kouzes & Posner, 2014), but that seems to risk burnout for individuals to accomplish to fix


large scale human and social service needs. However, Kouzes and Posner's (2003) suffering with

others does not feel as good as the hope that compassionate action can bring.

These nuances suggest that faith-based CSSPs need research and practice better suited to

nuanced needs. Leadership does not provide the only way to care for people through adversity.

Another way to care people through suffering can involve designing health systems that create

flow for people to support each other and their own basic needs with love. Otherwise, Meadows

and Wright (1993/2008) warned that social systems return to status quo with intervention

burnout, which limits the change that an individual can do because the system wants to return to

prior norms. This pull towards homeostasis can pressure people. Emotional action seems

nuanced, and the study of it tied to modern organizing because research depends on critique

(Boland, 2013). Study of compassion needs sensitivity because of the suffering implied. A

humanistic approach can emphasize compassion as a research lens to consider (Patti, 2013).

Patti (2013), as Stelter and Law (2010), called researchers to develop diverse approaches that

centralize personal stories and work involving marginalized experiences. A storied approach to

idealized systems design allows for a positive vulnerability as people envision their ideals and

rewind to the constraints of present day to design their organizations to create solutions that

touch their daily lives so that they can perform well (see Banathy, 1996a, 1996b).

Theme Two: Liminality of Communitas

Faith-based CSSPs often work with clients marginalized by society based on structures

that separate, such as wealth. Ostracism inflicts suffering because it separates people from

loving and safe connection and resources to meet their basic needs, which threatens their survival

or at least thriving. This ostracism requires a person to change identity and group to survive and

thrive. However, the ostracism limits the opportunity to do so. From anthropology, limen means


"threshold" in Latin, or that in-between time and experience when people on the margins interact

with other people on the margins, and so forge a communal identity after being ostracized from

structures or roles (V. W. Turner, 1967, 1969; van Gennep, 1909/1960). For example, faith-

based CSSPs by design suggest that previous organizational models did not work for them. One

could argue CSSPs are an organizational model, but I do not see them that way. CSSPs function

as liminal systems with fluid boundaries because people are crossing over into other

organizations to address a need not met by their individual organization. Communitas needs

compassion to move through the marginalization because of suffering.

People move toward wholeness in-between these rites, and find themselves on the

margins crafting sense of what has happened. This "in-between" becomes a sacred space, an

anti-structure, or the incapacity of any place or institution to fully hold the holy, or set apart

(Lane, 1986). In this sacred space, transformed persons identify with other such transformed

persons to forge communitas (V. W. Turner, 1987). This process describes the movement

toward complex wholeness (V. W. Turner, 1987). For instance, people on the margins might

include those without homes or employment, or mothers with children living in their cars

because they fled intimate partner violence, or those lacking health or educational resources due

to poverty. These persons who seek assistance from faith-based CSSPs might need more than

resources, such as systems change, to move towards a healthier society that won’t marginalize.

Van Gennep (1909/1960) and V. W. Turner (1967, 1969, 1995) referred to this

transformative process as the rites of marginalization or separation, transition, and incorporation

that follow a sequence called pre-, liminal, and post- liminal. V. W. Turner (1995) expanded van

Gennep's (1909/1960) rites to describe personae, or how persons transform their identity by

ritual beyond roles assigned by law, custom, convention, or ceremony. For example, baptism


often identifies people as part of a family of faith instead of being isolated from other groups

because an individual does not "fit in" to a wealth or other statuses. Persons need compassion to

endure the rites because of the likelihood of suffering involved from ostracism.

Faith-based CSSPs as a health system care for those separated by society due to lack of

resources. However, this care may or may not change the system that marginalizes people with

structures that separate. Some may question the assumption that organizations function as sites

of suffering as suggested by Dutton et al. (2014) and Frost (1999). The catalyst for the rites

occurs when a structure marginalizes an individual or group. Marginalization functions as a type

of ostracism. Liminality suggests that social systems can and do inflict suffering by using

structures, roles, customs, and conventions to include some people and to exclude others. It’s

not ideal to experience suffering or to be required to transform personal and communal identity

even though those two efforts remain noble, engaging, and beneficial. That people need a

process to recover from ostracism seems a symptom of an unhealthy system.

Faith-based CSSPs encounter this ostracism from structures that separate, such as norms

for organizing that result in health or economic disparities. Modern society replaces rituals of

personae and communitas that temper self-interest with economics of individualism, critique

(Boland, 2013), and economics among others (see Thomassen, 2014). L. Russell (2004)

connected compassion with the need for researchers to participate with ritual to suffer with

participants, and so better understand a topic. L. Russell (2004) went through participants’ ritual

to understand how they suffered and changed together. These suggestions point to

compassionate communitas to offset norms of organizing of modern times.

The liminal turn. The limen provides the pause for people to integrate new learning and

identity as they leave one group structure to integrate with a new community. This movement


towards wholeness and away from ostracism lends a new socioeconomic framework (see

Thomassen, 2014; V. W. Turner, 1987). Thomassen (2014) proposed liminality as a framework

for social sciences to address modern economic concerns. Szakolczai's (2000, 2009) permanent

liminality means that critique can ostracize other voices, and Boland (2013) named critique as

evidence of modern society itself. Yet, sholarship about liminality needs to define communitas

beyond seminal concepts or esoteric terms, apply terms to empirical research, and relate liminal

concerns in practical ways that can help systems (Rosko, 2015b). DeHart (2008) justified

studying liminality as now being the right time because of how organizational scholarship has

progressed. The turn to modernism has left a lot of integrative social systems behind, especially

the use of rituals in regular life (Thomassen, 2014). Now seems a time of unlearning that turn

and moving back towards liminal concerns that matter to society.

Liminality has challenged modern organizations to construct new ways to organize by

transcending norms and valuing learning and relationships to drive vision, purpose, and change

amid contingencies (see Bass, 2003; Bradbury & Lichtenstein, 2000; DeHart, 2008; Garsten,

1999; Rost, 1995; Tempest & Starkey, 2004). Liminal organizations perform (a) multiple rituals

and systems, (b) life phases or transitions in-between positional structures, and (c) from people

marginalized who unify under shared conditions to become communitas (V. W. Turner, 1969).

Some of these efforts benefit the bottom line. For example, participants saved a strategic

alliance from bankruptcy with liminal activities (Postula & Postula, 2011). However, research

about liminality needs to go beyond modern for-profit discourse because those structures

separate. The challenge to faith-based CSSPs involves a system that pressures them to organize

with norms that perpetuate the suffering that they work to alleviate. This study’s focus on the


ideal partnership of the future and the synthesis of compassionate communitas differs from such

modern norms for organizing and better supports those involved with faith-based CSSPs.

Empirical findings of liminal organizations. Few studies have empirically

demonstrated liminality. Lindsay (2010) explained a liminal organization as self-presentation of

public persona or identity and culture, such as the formal structure of a board of directors and

501c3 status, but without clear distinctions to members, for example, rank, ideology, theology,

politics, or goals. This resistance to structure, or anti-structure, results in an "organization like"

(p. 165) state of being. This liminal state sits at odds with formal structuring, such as fiduciary

and non-profit statuses for faith-based CSSPs. Essential to liminal research involves movement

toward or away wholeness. However, research has yet to express a way to study movement

instead of a text or archive (V. W. Turner, 1987). Organizations can perform liminally by

articulating vision, experiencing a meaning void, engaging experiential contrasts, converging a

consensual identity, negotiating identity claims, attaining optimal distinctiveness, performing

liminal actions, and synthesizing legitimizing feedback. At least two of these stages forge

organizational identity (Gioia, Price, Hamilton, & Thomas, 2010). Storied systems design

resonates with this liminal process, and so suits research about liminal concerns.

Practice of communitas as complex wholeness. Fernandez (1986) described

communitas as complex wholeness, or experiencing wellness with varying degrees of complexity

and simplicity. Fernandez further suggested that communitas involves the essential human bond

when people come together to react to how society separates them through complex status

systems. This movement toward or away wholeness triggers resistance between human and

natural laws. Communitas seems the implied wholeness for V. W. Turner (1987). Holism as

health and holy originates from the root word whole (Wheatley, 2009), which needs a caring turn


toward each other amid suffering instead of away (Wheatley, 2000, 2009). DeHart (2008)

assumed that a stage of development exists where people operate between the extremes of being

and not being in a situation that they want, or a transitional phase. V. W. Turner (1995) called

this phase a sphere betwixt and between, which approaches social identity beyond what other

theories that have found, or that people ostracize or conflict with each other based on threats to

worldview, resources, group norms, or mortality (Abrams & Hogg, 1990; Greenberg et al., 1986;

Greenberg et al., 1990; Solomon et al., 1991; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Whereas, liminality

involves a process for people to move towards/away wholeness (V. W. Turner, 1987).

Practically, communitas counters modern norms for organizing because it differs from

previous models that emphasized structure, teamwork, or process to explain organizational

performance. For instance, Tuckman (1965) and Tuckman and Jensen's (1977) form, storm, and

norm stages suggest a modern temporal element of urgency and hurry; whereas, liminality

emphasizes identity, ritual, and power, which slows the pace. This slower pace suggests a

slower work of becoming when transitioning from social ostracism to communitas. A slow-work

approach can engage and integrate contributors to develop quality relationships with each other

by using approaches that engage their identity, life direction, values, and network (Gelardin,

Muscat, & Whitty, 2010). Storied systems design engages and integrates participants to craft

strategy around their shared ideals. The current speedy organizational climate does not seem to

allow this pace. A liminal mindset for storied systems design slows the pace.

The contribution of spirituality to communitas. Spirituality adds to the systems

context of this study because of the faith-based leanings of the CSSP. Limen meshes with

spirituality because of anti-structure or the incapacity of a fixed place or institution to fully hold

the holy (Lane, 1986). Communitas as a Second Life goes beyond the passage of events when


people see themselves in their ancestors, yet choose to live toward a celebration of unity

(Dilthey, 1910/1961; Meyerhoff, 1986). Here, spirituality integrates ways of being. Individuals

do not claim communitas as their esoteric own, but a spiritual relationship dependent on faith.

An integrative way transcends the Westernized individual singular disposition for

community (Dewsbury & Cloke, 2009). For instance, Ault (2013) observed how people have

separated religion and theology from spirituality and affect in recent centuries. Consequently,

this rift reduces the body and emotions as marginal to spiritual concerns, and so separates people

from the experience of suffering as beings with bodies and feelings. Yet, spirituality can assist

with recognizing and naming emotions to explore theological questions and reflection, and holds

theology and spirituality together instead of as separate enterprises. Also, the possibility for

playful and creative openness to reflect allows people to encounter the unexpected, and so can

support the transformative learning that theological endeavors desire (Ault, 2013). This study’s

storied systems design allows for creative and transformative learning.

Idealizing systems of compassionate communitas. This section explains my ideal for

compassionate communitas to support faith-based CSSPs, or make them less needed.

Compassionate communitas suggests how systems can coordinate so that contributors turn to

each other for a common good during ostracism and make ostracism unnecessary. The systems

drama involves how people move toward or away wholeness. This movement means that

research needs to query more than a text or archive. The solution needs more than matching

research to a unit of study, but approaching the themes with a design that can find dramatic

performances that manifest movement toward wholeness (V. W. Turner, 1987).

Research benefits from a liminal way to approach storied systems design. V. W. Turner

(1987) explained a metaphor of shared flow that senses the holism of when people move together


until they become aware of that movement because then, and paradoxically, awareness stops

flow. To illustrate, V. W. Turner (1987) used the analogy of a river needing a bed to flow, where

the bed comprises the structural rules and framing, and the river performs the human drama. The

bed can be the for-profit modern norms for organizing and wealth disparities or the cultural bent

towards narcissism, which arguably drive the need for human and social services or lack of

compassion. The river can be the people as they partner together to move towards or away the

ideal. Constraints to flow occur when people impose their cognitive schematics on each other,

and so resist the natural law of communitas (V. W. Turner, 1987). Storied systems design can

help people to be open to flow because of the future visioning involved.

Faith-based CSSPs can benefit from storied systems design because of their mismatch to

for-profit norms. Modernism constitutes one such cognitive schematic that translates to

socioeconomic disparities, which arguably distributes wealth in unequitable or inhumane ways.

A partnership can expose such systems problems, and still function as an artifact of that

environment while organizing as an anti-structure. This combination ensues tension between

constraint and ideal. People try to create a sacred space for communitas to resist structures that

seem incomplete and to come alive with a human desire to be whole. People strive and work

hard for seeming short-lived gains. Partnerships stand in the gap in-between margins. Health

systems’ work involves providing a way for people to create sacred space to move toward their

future vision and changing the system to be more holistic to better sustain an ideal partnership.

Let love in. Researching compassionate communitas benefits from a conversation about

love, especially for faith-based CSSPs whose core value may involve love of neighbor and

community engagement of faith. Related to compassion, V. W. Turner (1987) said to hold the

"liminal heart" (p. 128), which he described as the theatrical mask of stimulation and vertigo.


Organizational structures can limit the deep sense of community felt by individuals, which goes

beyond one united narrative or many narratives because we tell the story of We: Communitas

happens when the faithful love in truth (see Mabee, 2013) after the crucible of compassion

(Bowering, 1999; Gude, 1996). Compassionate communitas expresses spiritual truth.

Compassion as crucible resonates with rites of passage because a crucible involves suffering

through a rite of passage. In faith-based terms, a loving communitas sounds familiar to the

compassionate gaze of Christ upon the wandering crowds (Benedict XVI, 2005; Mabee, 2013;

Matt. 9:36, 14:14; Mk. 6:34). This love rises above separating people based on wealth, and

moves people towards the abundant life and well-being of another, and then we become whole (1

Cor. 5:17; 1 John 3:16; John 15:13; Rom. 5:8) and wholly alive (John 10:10).

Developing compassionate communitas for social systems might open possibilities for

how to contribute to a whole society because compassionate communitas responds to human

vulnerability as recognized by Nussbaum (1996), yet it does not rely on triggered defenses, toxic

behaviors, or counterproductive results as found by previous social theories (see Abrams &

Hogg, 1990; Greenberg et al., 1986; Greenberg et al., 1990; Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Solomon et

al., 1991; Rosko, 2010; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Creatively idealizing compassionate

communitas expresss other possibilities to respond to suffering in social life (Rosko, 2010). This

study will envision other possibilities for ideal partnerships, rekey research conversations, and

show how stories provide a human ritual and sacred space to support faith-based CSSPs.

Story as a liminal act. This study applies stories to idealized systems design because

stories provide an ancient human ritual as people move through events and time as a plot and

often in a non-linear way. Stories can tell of how people integrate suffering, love, change, life,

and loss. Stories show a collectiveness as people interact with each other, and the texts interact,


too, as people revisit them (see Chvasta, 2003; Cohen, 1998; Czarniawska, 2000; Phillips, 1995).

Related, Stelter (2014) suggested that the next generation of coaching needs narrative and

collaboration to identify markers of dialogue in people’s interactions to better understand group

life (Stelter, Nielsen, & Wikman, 2011); yet, research that overemphasizes the speech act can

lose a sense of feeling. The drama manifests when people adapt and create texts, but these

efforts only describe how people symbolize what has happened. Hansen’s (2006) work with

ethnonarrative implied that research needs to focus on the interplay between text and context.

What V. W. Turner (1987) described goes beyond the interaction of framing symbols because it

involves the human movement toward/away communitas. Describing this movement as a drama

(V. W. Turner, 1987) needs performance approaches and language. Storycrafting constitutes its

own ritual that allows people passage together. Storycrafting opens possibilities to a core part of

people and their behaviors that would otherwise remain unseen by others (Altman & Taylor,

1973). This study’s systems synthesis of stories, photographs, and conversations can express

movement, such as if the synthesis expressed compassionate communitas.

Boyatzis, Smith, and Beveridge (2013) suggested the coaching of narrative to benefit

organizational health, well-being, and development. Narrative offers a pause in-between

structures for people to craft their visions and ideals for what health, well-being, and

development mean to them. Narrative expresses the self as suspended liminally, or in-between,

life experiences and therapeutic plots, such as how people navigate broken expectations and

painful experiences, and still express ways to creatively and virtuously cope and live amid loss

(Mattingly, 1998; Rosko, 2010). Stories, as with metaphors, give the brain a break from

rationalization because they visualize other possibilities than muscle memory. A tree is a tree,

and no one told it to not be a tree. The tree grows around a lampstand, and one passerby might


call it ugly, but the tree is doing what it does: Grow. An obstacle is in the way, it grows around

it, not commenting to itself that it should or should not behave that way. It is being a tree. Same

with ideals like love. We need them to thrive, but people find other ways to grow around

obstacles. Stories allow a pause before synthesis to contemplate other possibilities by

suspending judgment, and the shaming or fear that judgment can raise.

As with liminality, narrative performs a coherent (Polkinghorne, 1988) and discontinuous

(Anzaldúa, 1987; Mattingly, 1998) self to a culture formerly out of touch (rite of separation) by

mediating affective symbolic texts (rite of transition) shared with others (rite of incorporation)

(Rosko, 2010). Narrative lends this process a safe space that carries people through sharing

(Kahn, 2001, 2005). A storied approach to idealized systems design provides that safe place

because stories decenter power if stories allow other voices (Stelter, 2010). Collective

performance that integrates story and idealized systems design can engage a transformative

process well-suited to studying compassionate communitas of faith-based CSSPs because

performing stories find passage in-between painful life experiences (Rosko, 2010, 2015a).

A storied systems design can support health systems, such as faith-based CSSPs.

Organizational narratives enact social life and assume collectiveness (Cohen, 1998;

Czarniawska, 2000; MacIntyre, 1981/1990; Phillips, 1995). Consulting provides a liminal space

to invite other voices (Czarniawska & Mazza, 2003). Narrative can benefit organizational

studies when a consultant-researcher collects stories, observes how people create stories, invokes

storycrafting and sharing, interprets the stories, analyzes the narratives, deconstructs or creates

one's own story, and finally stages the stories together with other stories (Czarniawska, 1998,

2000; Czarniawska & Mazza, 2003). Interpretive research needs such criteria. A central task in

story research involves constructing characters, plot of events and their function, and


interpretating theme(s) beyond the dominance of scientific and analytic answers prevalent in

research (Czarniawska, 2000; Holstein & Gubrium, 1997). People make choices that shape the

interactions of the narratives with other narratives and characters in the organization

(Czarniawska, 2000; O'Connor, 1997). These decisions show possibilities to change a system.

Systems designers can craft the story of the ideal vision of the future and offer an

alternative to mainstream scientific discourse, especially by emphasizing transformation as its

own logic (see Todorov, 1978/1990). Resonating with liminal themes, Todorov (1971/1977)

emphasized the passage from one equilibrium to another, such as a stable situation that changes

when disturbed by an outside force that catalyzes disequilibrium until the action swings in the

opposite direction to re-establish the equilibrium (Czarniawska, 2000). The second equilibrium

may resemble the first or reverse it (Czarniawska, 2000; Todorov, 1971/1977). The goal

involves finding the minimal missing element (Czarniawska, 2000), which may function as the

integrative pause after suffering that will propel the person(s) toward wholeness (C. H. Colwell-

Lipson, personal communication, August 26, 2016). This study will not belabor the

deconstructionist or conversation-analytic approaches that call for a rigorous emergence or purity

of genre because, to add to Czarniawska (2000), story-crafting and sharing remain ancient

human rituals that need compassionate communitas to pass through the rite of story safely and

well. Runyan's (1984) internal criteria for a quality narrative as compelling and engendering

empathy comes closest to compassionate communitas.

The decisions for systems synthesis of

compassionate communitas honor heart of this study.


Theme Three: Faith-Based CSSPs

Faith and compassionate communitas connect because compassion arises as a common

theme across monotheistic religions (Armstrong, 1994), and faith-based CSSPs work to provide

human and social services. The union of love and knowledge with compassion comes when

humans relate with each other, and compassion provides insight to suffering so that people can

communicate (Day, 1975). Burke (2011) discussed suffering as God with us (Isaiah 7:14), and

only a suffering God can comfort those who suffer when serving God (Bonhoeffer, 1937/1959;

"Only the suffering God can help," 2010; Kearney, 2009; Whitehead, 1978). A co-suffering God

cares about those ostracized, disenfranchised, and marginalized (Burke, 2011; Heb. 2:18, 4:15;

Kearney, 2009). Faith-based CSSPs can bring compassionate communitas to health systems for

people marginalized and ostracized. The following sections will apply Rasmussen’s (2008)

human systems to describe the complexity of faith-based CSSPs from a systems perspective.

Faith-based CSSPs provide human and social solutions. Rasmussen’s (2008) work updated

Banathy’s (1973, 1991, 1996a) with human and social service systems.

The complexity of partnerships. Social systems as faith-based CSSPs express tensions

with organizing complexity. Strategic alliances, such as faith-based CSSPs, allow organizations

to collaborate. Different types of partnerships include public-private partnership (PPP or P3),

cross-sector partnership (XSP), and cross-sector social partnership (CSSP). CSSPs make it an

official goal to address social and ecological problems too complex for one organization to solve

(Clarke & Fuller, 2010; Shirey, 2013). Researchers can account and design for strategic alliance

complexity (Hua & Morgan, 2012), such as for liminality as a community component of

distributed leadership (Edwards, 2011). Writers have alluded to organizing complex systems

from a community development perspective. Complexity and wholeness become essential for


community (Walter, 2008). Complex wholeness goes beyond community as a group or structure

because complex wholeness needs movement toward communitas (V. W. Turner, 1969, 1987).

Faith-based CSSPs provide a complex liminal anti-structure to engage community.

A systems understanding of partnerships. It helps to understand faith-based CSSPs as

a system. Faith-based CSSPs express in practice the interconnections that systems writers talk

about (see Meadows & Wright, 1993/2008; Senge, 1990, 2006). Compassionate communitas

puts heart into K. Boulding's (1956) skeleton of science because knowledge comes from social

organizing and from humans who communicate across complex systems. Compassionate

communitas means that people respond instinctively and intentionally to organize a healthier

system than before. Storied systems design can facilitate these efforts as CSSPs move from

reality towards ideal. A critical power perspective counterpoints compassion as an ideal, but not

to maintain the system that normalizes suffering because idealistic discourse can do little to

change the unequal distribution of power in society (Tomlinson, 2005). For instance, the

intervener may burn out from vulnerability and loss of control or resources over the long-term

leaving the problem that triggered the intervention at status quo (Meadows & Wright,

1993/2008). The organization risks disenchantment and disengagement (Cha & Edmondson,

2006) while expending massive recovery efforts (Beelitz & Merkl-Davies, 2012). Faith-based

CSSPs likely experience this tension between interventions and distribution, such as wealth

disparities that ostracize people, or constrict them to utilize for-profit norms.

Power players: Sociopolitics for faith-based CSSPs. Those practicing faith-based

CSSPs likely experience the constraints and possibilities associated with power players.

Nationally in the United States, organizations of faith have provided a safety net for human

needs by alleviating the strain on federal and state services, and they have been an ongoing focus


of the past few U.S. administrations' domestic agenda. Government relies on non-profits to fill

the service gap, often with ideological language. At the February 4, 2010 National Prayer

Breakfast, President Obama said that "Progress comes when we open our hearts, when we extend

our hands, when we recognize our common humanity," and "Progress comes when we look into

the eyes of another and see the face of God" (The White House, n.d.c). However, the reliance on

faith-based efforts seems strained because of political tensions of party lines, people may

question the use of public funds for faith-based organizations, and tensions around extremism.

Past initiatives for compassion by a political party have polarized the context of faith-based

CSSPs. For instance, the existence of the Christian Right in the late 1990s resulted in the trope

of compassionate conservatism accompanied by efforts to reform the welfare state by providing

government funding for faith-based organizations (Harrison, 2013), yet the ideals do not

necessarily show up in funding or translate to compassionate communitas.

Previously, President Clinton signed "Charitable Choice" laws during 1996-2000 with the

intent to give people with needs choices among the charities that offer them services (The White

House, n.d.a). Next, President George W. Bush created the Faith-Based and Community

Initiative to restore a sense of hope, purpose, and compassion in how people experienced human

and social services (The White House, n.d.a). The Faith-Based and Community Initiative

resulted in discretionary and formula or block grants (The White House, n.d.a). When active, the

Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) grant program aimed to provide effective social services to

low-income individuals (Kramer, Finegold, De Vita, & Wherry, 2005; U.S. Department of

Health & Human Services, n.d.a, n.d.b). In 2001 the Department of Health and Human Services

awarded $25 billion directly to grant applicants, and gave $160 billion to states and localities,

which then made funds available to non-governmental organizations, but not for extensive


proselytizing or religious marketing (The White House, n.d.a). The federal climate seemed

favorable for organizations of faith providing services to the public.

Each of these executive efforts seemed to maintain a continuity of good faith. It seems

unclear if current political reactivity has changed the system to pressure or support human and

social services, or in a way that values compassionate communitas, or supports or removes the

need for faith-based CSSPs to provide services. Policy concerns about government partnerships

of faith-based organizations seemed to entangle policy and legality of providing grant money to

organization of faiths, such as loss of autonomy of the religious group, lack of reporting

requirements if any, government bias against or towards rewarding funds to religious groups (M.

Brown, 2013), and, unmentioned in M. Brown's (2013) article, the reason(s) that human and

social needs have become larger than government alone can address.

To add to the lack of clarity, few studies have considered connections with the idealized

practice of faith-based CSSPs, such as compassionate communitas. One 2004 study included

compassion and community-building for a government agency. The National Organization for

Research and Computing (NORC) at the University of Chicago has produced the General Social

Survey (GSS) since 1972 to monitor societal change and growing complexity of American

society (NORC, n.d.). NORC (2004) studied the physical redevelopment and community

building efforts of the Chicago Housing Authority due to the "Homeownership and Opportunity

for People Everywhere" (HOPE) act from Congress in 1990. This study found that three-

quarters of leaseholders said they felt that CHA staff treated them fairly and with compassion

with subgroups presenting differences on these measures. When asked to relocate, leaseholders

with special needs presented satisfaction rates that dropped to less than half because they

perceived less fair and compassionate treatment by staff (NORC, 2004). The follow-up NORC


(2005) study found that nearly 79% (n=253 of 321) of leaseholders said that the CHA showed

compassion, and 21% (n=68) said that the CHA did not show compassion. This improvement

suggests that research may support compassionate human and social services.

One year later, 246 leaseholders answered whether their receiving CHA showed them

compassion resulting in 265 coded responses (NORC, 2005). Leaseholders indicated that CHA

showed compassion during the relocation via availability to answer questions and give help

(27%, n=67), nice or helpful staff (18%, n=45) who paid for help with the move (13%, n=31),

helped find places to live and offered choices (11%, n=28), kept leaseholder informed (10%,

n=24), provided resources for food, utilities, and furniture (5%, n=12), and other (16%, n=40).

Residents indicated that CHA did not show compassion by perceiving CHA as not caring about

residents (28%, n=19), not proffering enough information (10%, n=7), not giving a leaseholder a

choice when or where to move (7%, n=5), rushing leaseholders through relocation (7%, n=5),

not telling the truth (1%, n=1), and other (46%, n=32) (NORC, 2005).

The "other" for the "did not show compassion" responses suggested that the lease-holders

perceived ways that government failed to show compassion amid an agency mandated change.

The responses about the CHA showing compassion included helping and communication

behaviors; whereas, responses about the CHA not showing compassion included perceptions of a

lack of care, information, choice, or truth-telling, and of being hurried through a difficult change.

The common themes included helping, communication, autonomy, and caring. This study

showed a rare glimpse into constituent perceptions of government performance of compassion

during a mandated change. Compassionate communitas can express tensions and possibilities

between caring and policy for faith-based CSSPs who often partner with government agencies.


There seems no indication at the time of writing this dissertation of a federally

administered policy to support partnerships of faith that offer human and social services, which

arguably reduce the burden to municipal, state, and federal budgets with the work that they do.

Under the current administration, no searches resulted from "faith," "church," or "partnership" as

had previous administrations at The White House website (n.d.b). Instead, the Issues section

focused on "America first" policies around trade, jobs, and law enforcement (n.d.b). The We the

People Petitions remained one possible channel of influence (The White House, n.d.d).

Systems functions and processes: Compassionate communitas of faith-based CSSPs.

There exist no known studies for storied systems design of compassionate communitas of faith-

based CSSPs. Compassionate communitas expresses faith. However, this emphasis seems lost if

structures of separation, such as modern norms, environmental constraints, or political ideology

replace compassionate communitas. Writers of faith have addressed compassion, love, and

community before. The appeal for compassion has arisen throughout church history.

The Psalmist poetically described faithful leadership as crowning people with

compassion after God redeems their lives (Psa. 103:4). The "crown" matters for compassionate

"soft power" of community engagement of faith. In Revelation of Divine Love, Julian of

Norwich, a mystic anchoress who lived in the fourteenth century from 1342 until 1416 at

Norfolk, England, wrote about loving compassion as a wound. She wished that she could co-

suffer with Christ because Christ suffered for people as compassion and love (Holloway, 1993;

Reynolds, n.d.). After 15 years of contemplation, Julian said that she understood why God

expressed the revelations, Showings, to her: "God's love was his meaning, God's love expressed

spiritual understanding for love's sake, so remain in love, and she will know more of the same,

and she would not know differently without end" (Holloway, 1993; Reynolds, n.d.).


This love becomes present during suffering. If we did not suffer, then we would not need

compassion. Ideals as a paradox to reality fall short of alleviating pain and need something

outside the system to change the reality of suffering. In Christianity, this change agent was Jesus

(1 John 3:16; Heb. 4:14-16; Isaiah 7:14, 9:1-6; Matt. 9:36, 28:18-20). Mabee (2013) referred to

Pope Benedict’s XVI mention of the loving gaze of Christ upon the crowds. St. Francis of Assisi

served lepers with personal concern and compassion after he discovered the crucified Christ

(Burke, 2011). Burke (2011) listed accounts of others who served "the rejected of society with

whom they found Christ in solidarity" with love and justice to move from misery to care, and

hostility to hospitality (p. 71). This solidarity with Christ moved people to suffer with others

until they found togetherness. For example, Dorothy Day understood through practice that

Christ emptied himself out of love for those whom society and religious leaders had ostracized as

the "least" of humans (Burke, 2011). Other writers encouraged theological ethics that respond to

suffering by challenging inequitable patterns in the system, or systemic sin (Wilson & Letsosa,

2014), such as for human dignity, full humanity, democracy, human rights, equality, solidarity,

and equal opportunity (Burke, 2011; Rerum Novarum, 1891, para. 57). Such caring practices

identify the church (Craig, 2010; John 13:35). Notably, the prophet Isaiah referring to Jesus

spoke of a coming kingdom of basic needs, peace, and appropriate worship because Jesus would

serve as an empathetic high priest (Heb. 4:15), in contrast to the oppressive leaders and

mediators at the time (Isaiah 9:1-7). These writings imply a different way to do church as

building a future kingdom with solidarity of compassionate communitas under Christ.

Fewer writers have directly connected liminality with church practice. For instance,

Nichols (1985) called worship anti-structure, or a rite of passage during which worshipers realize

that they cannot contain God. Taylor (1986) explained that Christians' liminal existence means


that they affirm cultural others and all who experience fear do so because of marginalization by

the structures that oppress them. Taylor (1986) prescribed limen for social justice work when he

referred to Christians as living within and at the margins of cultural and linguistic worlds. Using

agricultural terms, Hosea (10:12) described fallow ground as a place for seekers to break up

unplowed ground for a time to seek God and to wait until God rains down righteousness so that

seekers can reap unfailing love. Throughout, liminal themes express a God of love who co-

suffers with those on the margins (1 John 4:8). Jesus died on a cross in-between two others also

so suffered (John 19; Luke 23:26-43; Matt. 27:32-56). Belief in such a God ideally results in

loving behavior (1 John 4:8), which contrasts, and "casts out," fear because fear has to do with

ostracism (1 John 4:18-19). People move from ostracism from God and each other toward love

as wholeness with God, each other, and themselves (see Mark 12:28-31; Matt. 22:36-40). People

experience ostracism as judgement and love as safety (1 John 4:18-19). Compassion from this

perspective involves emulating the suffering one who led by example, but did not retaliate (1

John 4:7-21; Heb. 4:14-16). Compassionate communitas becomes an imperative: "I desire

compassion, and not sacrifice" (Hos. 6:6; Matt. 9:13). Compassionate communitas provides this

ideal to explore a heart-centered approach for faith-based CSSPs that partner for love.

However, this ideal for compassionate communitas does not necessarily translate to

practice or systems change. Churches need to strengthen a culture that improves the human

quality of affection, friendship, and partnership (House, 2013). Churches can partner to

demonstrate the love for God and neighbor, and how faithfulness to this love becomes all that

matters for human affection and friendship (House, 2013). Compassionate communitas provides

a way to influence health systems with spiritual and affective values to transcend constraints.


Functions of human systems: Socioeconomics for faith-based CSSPs. Faith-based

CSSPs can experience tension if their efforts inadvertently perpetuate structural norms that

influence constraints. The unstated issue involves how money aligns with practice for a model

that often ostracizes. Budgetary tensions might invite suspicion about idealizing a systems

design for faith-based CSSPs engaged with public concerns, especially in a volatile climate.

Agencies need to build and sustain networks with faith-based organizations, especially in the

socioeconomic environment (Yoon & Nickel, 2008). Locally, city leaders scrap together

budgets to meet human and social service needs for those on the margins. For example, the

economic index and race function as a disparity with many unhealthy outcomes (Braveman,

Cubbin, Egerter, Williams, & Pamuk, 2010). Also, 31 states fiscally have suffered from the

2008 recession (Oliff, Mai, & Palacios, 2012). Municipalities with diversity need to improve

service delivery because of language or cultural barriers (e.g., Law, 2014; Shridhar, 2014). The

need for partnerships emerges from this context to provide human and social solutions.

Add to that the tensions of organizing churches and volunteers. As of 2011, about

350,000 religious congregations existed in the United States with an average size of 100-400

members (Hodgkinson & Weitzman, 1993; Saxon-Harrold, Kirsch, Heffron, McCormack, &

Weitzman, 2001; Saxon-Harrold, Wiener, McCormack, & Weber, 2000; U.S. Department of

Justice, 2011; Wiener, Saxon-Harrold, McCormack, & Kirsch, 2001). U.S. congregations have

generated an estimated $81 billion annually in revenue, most of which supports programs that

address social needs. Faith-based institutions engage 45 million volunteers, or nearly half of the

total number of American volunteers (U.S. Department of Justice, 2011). However, by the early

1990s, data from some of the data sources that contributed to information about nonprofits, such

as the Nonprofit Almanac, lacked clarity about methods and procedures, which raised questions


about how to effectively evaluate and implement data about faith-based organizations (Salamon,

1993). There lacks reliable information about the scale and scope of faith-based interventions on

human and social services, and what they need or do amid modern society.

Faith CSSPs can experience tensions when socioeconomic and modern norms for

organizing drive disparity and mismatch spiritual or affective values, especially if churches

organize as modern organizations based on a model for production and consumption (House,

2013). Corporate philanthropy practices do not address the systemic causes of social concerns

(Einstein, 2012), and sometimes these practices spill into development efforts for nonprofits. For

instance, identified as "non-," nonprofits have needed to recruit corporate partners, to establish

alliances, and to acquire new data sources of capital amid increasing economic concerns because

of the market environment (Rabade, 2012). Fundraising and galas can raise tensions of

pandering to wealthier people, and moving funds around with grants from various agencies that

may transfer and not change the problem. Funding practices might perpetuate the disparities that

contributed to the human and social service challenges in the first place. The consumer approach

to buying fixes to social problems may run out of money, and may not alleviate human suffering.

Workers for "a plentiful harvest" seem in short supply (Luke 10:2; Matt. 9:37). The realities

driving the system do not change. The concern involves how faith CSSPs live out their ideals,

and not as a structure dependent on, or pressured by, a mismatched environment.

To point, researchers have spoken of partnership success in terms of competitive

advantage, such as to better serve customers, acquire resources, and compete for customers or

raw materials (Devlin & Bleackley, 1988; Kanter, 1988; Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978; Thongkhong-

Park, 2001). However, scholar-practitioners can consider concerns beyond competitive

advantage (Ployhart & Hale, 2014) because the spiritual values of faith-based CSSPs transcend


profit or competition. Megachurches experience tension when they match moral ambition and

religious convictions with serving the poor (Harrison, 2013). These practices lack attention to a

reasoning faith that includes creative thinking and inquiry to maintain theological integrity

(House, 2013). The structure of separation, the socioeconomic and modern norms for

organizing, can stymie faithful practice. Disparity as systemic sin can inhibit churches from

providing justice and care to the disadvantaged, or those who have been sinned against by

systemic norms (Wilson & Letsosa, 2014). Churches can partner for community not competitors

even if doing so reduces numbers and resists norms that franchise churches (House, 2013).

Beyond that, the post-welfare era has made it difficult for humanitarianism despite a

growing phenomenon of altruistic faith-based activism. Modernism and religion awkwardly

crossed paths in post-World War II America when U.S. Evangelicalism entrenched with

suburbanization and commercial sprawl. For example, conservative evangelical Protestants

experienced ethical dilemmas when engaging with activism and social outreach when they

perceived a theological paradox between compassion and accountability (Elisha, 2008). Trends

have moved toward evangelical re-urbanization, which restructures American religion and

changes dynamics in cities (Bielo, 2011), such as by displacing poorer populations (McGee, n.d.,

2007-2008). Evangelical re-urbanization negatively critiques suburban mega-churches and aims

to reconcile urban life with the kingdom of God (Bielo, 2011). The strain of serving seems at the

mercy of a merciless economic system that ostracizes people in various ways.

Beginning in 1990, the rising culture of Nones, or one-fifth of the U.S. public and one-

third of American adults under 30, who don't identify with organized religion, yet as a

demographic are spiritual, atheistic, or agnostic and socially liberal, and often Democratic voters,

translate to an unprecedented trend of young people distancing itself from community


institutions and from institutions in general (National Public Radio, 2013; Pew Research Center,

2012). These Nones value tolerance, service, and economic justice as vital to healthy and stable

societies, but disaffiliate with religion even in places where religious affiliation remains high

(Center for Religion and Civic Culture, n.d.). The Nones by disaffiliation do not seem to trust

institutions, such as religion, to bring those changes about, and one wonders about the tension

with the rise of Nones as a rebellion towards greater individualism, and how that translates to

systems change that integrates the values to support a healthy and stable society. The CSSP risks

losing the faith-based to increased secularization, and people to sustain it due to a global shift in

major religions projected by 2035 for various reasons (see Pew Research Center, 2015, 2017).

These trends do not bode well for faith-based CSSPs and the regions that need them. Gill

(2011) wrote that modernity and its emblems have fostered an increasing coldness in a lethal

world, which clashes with the human condition by suggesting that modernity paradoxically

symbolizes freedom and life. A cultural heart that becomes cold and hard seems at odds with

matters of faith, hope, and love. Churches that organize as modern structures lose the fluidity

and communal kinship of the ancient church (see Ascough, 2002; Land, 2008; Longenecker,

2002). For instance, early Christian language promoted a strong communal bond as though the

structure was that of surrogate family members (Ascough, 2002; Land, 2008) and not a number

or building. Kin of faith met each other’s needs so that they were free to worship God (Acts 4-

6). Faith-based organizations can value proactively loving all people instead of over-talking

about beliefs because the opposite of love amounts to indifference (Chandler, 2008). These

distinctions set faith-based CSSPs apart from other cultural or political organizations because

they value communion with God and with each other (2 Cor. 13:13; Volf, 2002) to meet basic

needs and engage loving community as a health system. These spiritual and affective human


behaviors go beyond modern emphases on organizing and structure. Compassionate communitas

needs a design better suited to faith-based CSSPs than modern structural norms.

Compassionate communitas allows for higher-level concerns: It may not be enough to

serve or advocate for sufferers, but asks to dissolve the problem causing disparity and do so in a

healing loving manner. Einstein (2012) appealed to compassion and social justice because of

such shortcomings of philanthropy. The systemic implications include concerns with social

justice, human services, the relevance of faith in urban development, and the need to adjust

discourse and practice to respond to the current era (Bielo, 2011). The problem becomes one of

ostracizing people because of resources or a misplaced treasure of the heart (Luke 12:34; Matt.

6:21). The ideal moves towards a future where a healthy system can thrive. Systems change

needs to occur for the ideals of faith-based CSSPs to succeed. A storied systems design allows

for envisioning how to dissolve the realities that require faith-based CSSPs by expressing future

visions of ideal partnerships to help them to enact upon and normalize their ideals instead of

preventing healing from norms that limit opportunities to transform people’s lives.

Consciousness: Socioculture for faith-based CSSPs. Cultural norms also contribute to

the health system of faith-based CSSPs. The extent to which faith-based CSSPs can support

health services seems strained if American attitudes toward religious affiliation continue to

decline. A 2014 NORC study found that Americans in almost every demographic more likely

reported "no religion" in 2014 than in the past. Participants reported less frequent time with

prayer and attending religious services than 20 years prior although people who stated a religious

preference did not significantly change attendance of services weekly or more than in the past.

While 97% of Americans still believe in [a] God, they do not necessarily affiliate that belief, or

identity, with a religion, which raises concerns for associating with churches for civic purposes


(Hout & Smith, 2015, March 10). Future generations may affiliate less also, such as emerging

adults who did not attend college who demonstrated the most decline in religious participation

(Uecker, Regnerus, & Vaaler, 2007). U.S. faith-based CSSPs may experience less capacity to

sustain partnership. However, it remains to be seen if the current climate increases attendance,

such as with progressives concerned about social justice and theology (Green, 2016).

Plus, aspiring to create lasting change from a system that ostracizes to one that loves

seems a lofty ideal. One religious organization used collective action framing of relationships

and project goals to create lasting social change (Kragt Bakker, 2011), but these local changes

may not transform a system long-term. Also, faith-based social workers need awareness for how

to act out of a professional obligation to a code of ethics to challenge injustice and pursue social

change for ostracized persons, and to do so with sensitivity and knowledge about structural

oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity (National Association of Social Workers, 1999).

These cultural concerns add to the capacity needs for contributors to a faith-based CSSP.

Holos: Primary driver for compassionate communitas of faith-based CSSPs.

Beyond modernism, organizations need wholeness as a chief concern to succeed (Lencioni,

2012). Compassionate communitas means moving toward complex wholeness and away from

structures that separate to alleviate suffering, and to develop communitas instead of ostracizing

people (Dutton et al., 2014; Kanov et al., 2004; V. W. Turner, 1987). Complex wholeness

depends on building a foundation of shared beliefs, interests, and commitments to unite or

stabilize diverse groups and activities so that people can connect with each other with a common

faith or fate, a personal identity, a sense of belonging, and supportive activities and relationships

(Selznick, 2008; Walter, 2008). Fernandez (1986) described communitas as complex wholeness.


For systems, holism, one of eight tenets of systems thinking, integrates all of the

properties of a system to function as the whole, and not part of the whole, because the whole

determines how the parts behave (von Bertalanffy, 1950a, 1950b, 1971). The language for part

and whole limits this understanding because of the mechanics of separation. Emergence makes

wholeness credible because living things grow towards a whole, and because reductionism and

bottom-up descriptions of nature often fail to predict complex higher-level patterns (Flake,

1998). Wholeness allows people to engage in learning, empowerment, democracy, partnership,

and to bridge gaps of culture, class, race, gender, and hierarchy (Banathy, 1996a; Weisbord,

1992). This purview invites a whole picture of the connections that people experience between

systems. For a healthy system, faith-based CSSPs need an environment that normalizes the

ideals of partnership to match their values and to bridge the gaps that they address in society.

For faith organizations, compassionate communitas often shows up in how they treat

those on the margins. One study told the story of a pastor’s role in preparing a church to serve

homeless persons with compassion (Moxley, Washington, & McElhaney, 2012). Faith-based

social workers can respond to sufferers as a way to share God's love for all people (Raymond,

2011). The call to love and compassion at the heart sounds as a call to heal. The Holos

imperative involves healing human life as an autonomous and interconnected whole centered on

roles that embrace values and identity (Cooper, 1998; Laszlo, 2001; Naisbitt, 1984; Solomon,

1992, 1993, cited in Bolman & Deal, 2008, p. 401; Wheatley, 2006, 2009). Holism does not

reduce people to objects because it allows for the intangibles of spirit, intuition, and mystery

(Goldberg, 1983; Rosko, 2009). Healing reflects the root meaning for holism and health as

turning toward a flourishing whole (Katongole & Rice, 2008; Wheatley, 2009). Wheatley (2000)

described this turning toward as compassion; others described communitas as complex


wholeness (Fernandez, 1986; V. W. Turner, 1987). Compassionate communitas reflects a real-

life way to experience wholeness. Organizations that engage healing as a living system can

orient towards holism (Davies, 1983; Laszlo, 2001; Naisbitt, 1984). A Holistic civilization

seems yet realized; however, people can envision their holistic hopes to make a Holos

civilization a reality (Laszlo, 2001). The challenge involves bringing wholeness to systems

norms that create sectorial organizations, such as faith-based CSSPs.

Latin for integrate means to make whole (B. Brown, 2015). Therefore, research of systems can

better express synthesis of wholeness into the design. Designing for compassionate communitas

needs qualities for a whole future, which influences the choices that systems designers make

(Banathy, 1996a). Liminal writers spoke of a complex wholeness that happens after

marginalized persons come together with a new identity as a person and community (Fernandez,

1986; V. W. Turner, 1987). This study allows for a design that yearns for wholeness through

creative collaboration so that people can feel safe and cared for so that they can perform well as

an integrated whole. Whole systems, such as the health system of faith-based CSSPs, value

human qualities. Therefore, I synthesized the stories, photographs, and conversations, and

stories value creativity, aesthetics, affectivity, and spirituality (Banathy, 1996a). Such design

thinking empowers people to be open to systems thinking by designing their ideals for everyday

realities that impact their quality of life, to weigh ethics, to design communication and

conversation, and to include creativity as essential to design (Banathy, 1996a; Linstone, 1984,

1985; Linstone & Mitroff, 1994). This study is a storied systems design of a faith-based CSSP.