The immigrant effect: Short-term mission travel as transnational civic remittance

Gary J. Adler, Andrea L. Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Short-term mission (STM) travel is a popular religious and civic practice done by religious congregations, but the local conditions that facilitate its production are poorly understood. We analyze organizational factors behind STM travel, with special focus on the role of recent immigrants within congregations. We use data from the third wave of the National Congregations Study. Our results show large differences by religious tradition, as well as the influence of foreign clergy, youth ministry, college-educated members, recent immigrants, and immigrant service orientation. We identify an immigrant effect, theorizing how immigrant presence and identity influence U.S. congregations' transnational engagement, especially within religious traditions with relatively low levels of recent immigrants. By connecting research on congregational civic engagement with that on transnational immigrant religion, we argue that about 30% of STM travel is a form of civic remittance in which recent immigrants and their U.S. congregations aid foreign communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-355
Number of pages33
JournalSociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 27 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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