In 2004, the multifaith coalition of denominations and faith groups that conducted the Faith Communities Today 2000 national survey of congregations formalized their continued partnership as a membership-based program housed within Hartford Seminary’s Institute for Religion Research. The Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership that developed out of that effort had several programmatic goals:
- Creating and testing a financially viable methodology for regular national surveys of congregations, each survey to include three layers of questions:
a. A repeated set of items to track changes and trends
b. A specific set of topical items tied to a congregational resource
c. A unique set of new items of immediate public interest
- Creating an ongoing informative newsletter.
- Developing an approach to congregational resources that begins with a congregational situation requiring self-reflection, and then builds a topical module of supporting national survey items for inclusion in one of the biennial surveys, the results from which get built back into the congregational resource.
As a result, the team then undertook and created the first survey in this series, FACT 2005. The resulting report was American Congregations 2005. This 30 page report presents a comprehensive look at the FACT 2005 findings, including trend comparisons to FACT 2000 survey findings, and perspectives on worship, conflict, leadership, interfaith involvement, vitality, the prevalence of strong beliefs and the greatest challenges congregations told us they face.