A National Interfaith Survey of Congregations in the Year 2000

July 25, 1998 release

Over 50 representatives from 35 faith traditions as diverse as Bahai' and Muslim to Southern Baptist and the Churches of Christ met in Chicago from July 21st to the 24th for a planning event for the Cooperative Congregational Study Project.

Under the leadership of Carl Dudley and David Roozen, both with Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT, the "Cooperative Congregational Studies Project" brings together more than 40 participating groups from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Bahai' and Orthodox Church organizations to develop cooperative congregational survey research in conjunction with the census in 2000. The resulting national data bank will enable pastors, church leaders and scholars to make unprecedented comparisons among congregations and denominations. A $764,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, and contributions from the denominations themselves, will support this national interfaith venture.

The Cooperative Congregational Studies Project will produce a comprehensive picture of congregational life in the USA at the beginning of the 21st century. "Perhaps most important, we seek creative ways to share useful information with congregations, their religious bodies, and the public, and to encourage follow up studies of practical significance to recognize and assist the contributions of faith groups in American society," said Carl Dudley. To this end the broadest possible coalition representing Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and other religious bodies was brought together. David Roozen noted this coalition currently represents more than 93% of the reported membership of religious bodies in the United States.

The convergence of the U.S. national census and a new millennium provide an unusual opportunity for religious groups to gain public recognition for the ways their congregations strengthen the lives of participants and contribute to the communities where they are located. This voluntary, interfaith organization of religious leaders is committed to develop common procedures, focused data gathering and analysis, and cooperative dissemination for maximum utilization of information. This effort will open a window to the variety of congregational life throughout the United States.

To learn more about this historic cooperative research venture contact Carl Dudley or David Roozen at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford CT 06105, (860)509-9542, email - [email protected] or see our web site at http://hirr.hartsem.edu.