Church of England

From the founding of the earliest Briton Church communities, the care of the poor, the sick, and the elderly was a solemn duty impressed on the individual, the ecclesia, and the rulers of the British kingdoms. The evolving structures and organization of the church and its relationships with its congregants facilitated the accumulation and distribution of the material resources needed to meet the spiritual and temporal challenges of a world economy already divided by wealth and social status. Education and the refinements of culture were considered important dimensions of charity.

The early communities recognized three states of poverty, each with particular remedies designed to preserve the inalienable dignity of the individual while providing opportunities for self-improvement. The character and circumstances of wage laborers, beggars, and the ...

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