Webinar Recording – Facing the FACTs: What an Interreligious Survey of 15,000 Faith Communities Says About Congregational Health
In the fall of 2021, a special issue of Theology Today featured 12 instructive articles based on the largest study of congregations conducted in the U.S. to date, the 2020 Faith Communities Today project. As a follow-up to this issue, Theology Today and the Faith Communities Today (FACT) research initiative hosted a webinar on January 25, 2022 featuring an overview of findings from the FACT 2020 study, along with insights from researchers of several participating faith traditions and denominations, commentary by outside religion observers, and a segment devoted to participant questions. Watch the recording at the link above, explore Q&A follow up answers, or learn more about the speakers below.
Dr. Scott Thumma
Scott Thumma serves as Professor of Sociology of Religion at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace and the Director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. He is the co-chair of the Faith Communities Today project, Principal Investigator of the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations study, steering committee member for the US Religious Census, and a research advisor for several other projects and organizations. Throughout his 30-year career he has participated in many congregational study projects and national religion research efforts. He has written widely on the subject of megachurches, gay religious life, congregational dynamics, and nondenominational churches and has published three books [Gay Religion, Beyond Megachurch Myths, and The Other Eighty Percent: Turning Your Church’s Spectators into Active Disciples], many research reports, and managed over a half-dozen websites.
Rev. Dr. Gordon Mikoski
Gordon Mikoski, associate professor of Christian education, earned his MDiv and MA degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his PhD from Emory University. His research and teaching interests focus on Christian education, the sacraments, the doctrine of the Trinity, and practical theology. He has written and edited several books, including: Integrating Work in Theological Education, co-edited with Kathleen Cahalan and Ed Foley (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017); Opening the Field of Practical Theology, co-edited with Kathleen Cahalan (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014); Straining at the Oars: Case Studies in Pastoral Leadership, with H. Dana Fearon III (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013); With Piety and Learning: The History of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1812-2012, with Richard R. Osmer (Münster, Germany: Lit Verlag, 2011); and Baptism and Christian Identity: Teaching in the Triune Name (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009). He serves as the editor for Theology Today and as the director of the PhD program at the Seminary. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he served a church in the Detroit area for eight years before returning to academia.
Rabbi Aaron Spiegel, D.Min.
Aaron was most recently a director at the Center for Congregations, and architect and director of the Congregational Resource Guide. As a trans-denominational rabbi, his focus is helping congregations and nonprofits learn the importance of technology, transition to sustainable infrastructure, and implement high availability strategic plans. Aaron is also the President of the Synagogue Studies Institute, collecting and interpreting data about synagogues for the American congregational landscape. Aaron is an experienced leader and strategic planner in IT, nonprofit management, and digital marketing, as well as a consultant, published author, and seasoned public speaker.
Dr. Erica Dollhopf
Dr. Erica Dollhopf is the Director of the Center for Analytics, Research & Development, and Data at the United Church of Christ. Dr. Dollhopf received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from the Pennsylvania State University and an M.A. in American Studies from Lehigh University. She has authored numerous publications on congregations and faith-based nonprofits. Dr. Dollhopf currently serves on the board of the Religion Research Association, is an officer for the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, and serves on the Steering Committee for the Faith Communities Today survey as well as the Operations Committee of the U.S. Religion Census.
Dr. Jonathon Wiggins
Jonathon Wiggins earned his Ph.D. in sociology at Loyola University Chicago in 2000 and joined the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in January of that year as the Director of CARA’s Parish Surveys, helping Catholic parishes to evaluate their programs and to assess the needs of their parishioners.
Dr. Mike McMullen
Mike McMullen is a professor of Sociology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in Houston, Texas. He received his doctorate and MA in sociology from Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia). He received his BS in sociology and mathematics from the University of Kansas. He is the author of several books and articles, including The Bahá’í: The Religious Construction of a Global Identity was published by Rutgers University Press in 2000; and The Bahá’ís of America: The Growth and Change of a Religious Movement by New York University Press in 2015. He is currently working on a book on the history of conflict resolution in the United States. His areas of interest include the sociology of religion, the Middle East, organizational development and change, and conflict resolution and mediation. Dr. McMullen worked for five years as a researcher and workshop facilitator at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. McMullen spent a year living in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching sociology at American University in Cairo during the 2009-2010 academic years. Most recently, he spent a summer term teaching at the United States International University of Africa in Nairobi, Kenya in 2019.
Dr. Susan Barnett
Susan Barnett, PhD, Director of Research Services for the Presbyterian Church (USA), focuses on health and wellbeing of ministers, church finance, and nonprofit management. She worked in medical research for 25 years before coming to PCUSA and has led studies on COVID, mental health, and PCUSA’s first minister study for actively serving and retired ministers. In addition to her role with PCUSA, Susan also serves as Co-Chair of Faith Communities Today.
Dr. Greg Smith
Gregory A. Smith is associate director of research at Pew Research Center. He helps to coordinate the Center’s domestic polling on religion. Smith also writes reports and provides information to news media and others about religion and public opinion, religion and American politics, and the political views of Catholics. Smith holds a doctorate in government from the University of Virginia, where he was a fellow at the Center on Religion and Democracy. He is an author of the 2007 and 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Studies, the 2010 U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, the 2007 and 2011 Pew Research Center surveys of Muslim Americans, the 2012 Mormons in America report and the 2012 report “Nones” on the Rise. He also wrote Politics in the Parish: The Political Influence of Catholic Priests (Georgetown University Press, 2008). Smith has been interviewed as an analyst by a variety of broadcast media, including ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and NPR, and by The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, among other print media.
Bob Smietana, National Reporter at the Religion News Service (RNS) is an award-winning religion reporter and editor who has spent two decades producing breaking news, data journalism, investigative reporting, profiles and features for magazines, newspapers, trade publications and websites.
Most notably, he has served as a senior writer for Facts & Trends, senior editor of Christianity Today, religion writer at The Tennessean, correspondent for RNS and contributor to OnFaith, USA Today and The Washington Post.
He is best known for his coverage of Islam and Islamophobia, including his comprehensive reporting on the Murfreesboro mosque conflict, and of evangelical Christianity, including the emotional journey of Pearl Joy Brown’s family as well as the ongoing Willow Creek Community Church scandal.
Dr. Allison Norton
Dr. Allison Norton is the Faculty Associate in Migration Studies and Congregational Life at Hartford International University, where she directs the Pastoral Innovation Network of New England. She teaches courses in sociology of religion, immigration, and multicultural and intergenerational ministry. Her research and publications explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. congregations, the rise of megachurches in West Africa, the transnational dimension of African Pentecostalism, the role of migration on the worldwide expansion of the Christian faith, and the religious identities of the “new” second generation.