CHICAGO, IL, July 16, 1999 – Plans were completed here this week for the most inclusive survey of religious congregations in the nation's history.
The survey will parallel the federal census in the Year 2000.
The massive research project, five years in the planning, will be conducted separately by Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Baha'i and other groups, as well as by various Christian bodies. Each group will work together to develop a common design. They will benefit from the broadly comparative perspective provided by the aggregation of data in to an overall portrait of faith communities today. The effort is being coordinated by Professors Carl S. Dudley and David A. Roozen of Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
Dr. Roozen says that "this the most extensive data gathering effort every undertaken in North America by a group of cooperating religious bodies toward the goal of enhancing the vitality of their local congregations."
Funding for the joint planning and for the sharing of the results is being provided by the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis, IN.
According to Dr. Dudley, "A unique part of our effort, which is known as the Cooperative Congregational Studies Project, is the care with which the data will be analyzed and disseminated. Each religious body has named a 'key teacher' as well as a 'key researcher'." This part of the program will be known as Faith Communities Today.
The religious bodies will gather data in the early part of next year and the information will become available in the fall.