Religious nonprofit social service and health organizations provide care to a large number of people in American communities. To enhance the services that these organizations provide, religious denominations have formed national nonprofit umbrella organizations. Little has been written about these umbrella organizations, their identity, and their functions. Using archival sources and interviews, this article explores the history and development of Lutheran Services in America (LSA), a large, Protestant, national nonprofit umbrella organization. Elements of this organization’s identity are examined—its ongoing efforts to affirm its religious values and goals, its efforts to meet economic needs, and its serving as a forum in which differing views of social services in the church can be discussed. The multiple identities of LSA are explored, and the implications for religious nonprofit umbrella organizations are discussed.
(C) 2008 Alliance for Children and Families