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Keywords:

  • gratitude to God;
  • health;
  • depressive symptoms

This study has three goals. The first is to see whether the opportunity to engage in volunteer work at church fosters friendships with co-religionists. The second goal is to see whether the support these friends provide bolsters feelings of gratitude to God. The third goal is to see whether feelings of gratitude to God are associated with health and depressive symptoms. The following linkages in our conceptual model elaborate and extend these objectives: (1) people who go to church more often will be more likely to participate in volunteer work through their congregations; (2) individuals who perform volunteer work at church will have more friends among their co-religionists; (3) people who have more friends where they worship will report receiving more emotional support from fellow congregants; (4) those who receive more support from co-religionists will feel more grateful to God; and (5) individuals who are more grateful to God will rate their health in a more favorable manner and experience fewer symptoms of depression. Data from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey provide support for each of these relationships.