The Presbyterian Panel began in 1973 and is an ongoing panel study in which mailed questionnaires are used to survey representative samples of constituency groups of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These constituency groups include members, elders, pastors serving in a congregation, and specialized clergy serving elsewhere. Panels are re-sampled every three years. The main goal of this study is to gather broad information about Presbyterians in terms of their faith (beliefs, church background, and levels of church involvement), and their social, economic, and demographic characteristics (age, sex, marital status, living arrangements, etc.). The May 2001 survey focuses on the U.S. Congregational Life Survey (Presbyterian Panel Version).
- Data File
- Cases: 1,622
Weight Variable: None
- Data Collection
- Date Collected: September 1999 (Background questions) and May 2001
- Funded By
- Congregational Ministries Division, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- Collection Procedures
- Data were collected by self-administered mail surveys. "In the initial mailing on September 21, 1999, each sampled individual was sent a letter from Freda Gardner, Moderator of the 211th General Assembly (1999-2000).
A week later, on September 28, 1999, each sampled individual was sent a 9"x 12" envelope (personally addressed) containing the following materials: a personally-addressed letter (individually signed) from John P. Marcum, Panel Administrator; a tri-fold brochure describing the Panel in a question-and-answer format; a postage-paid, business-reply envelope; a copy of the questionnaire; and a 4x6 card with information on how to complete the survey on the World Wide Web. (Overall design of the survey and mailings followed the 'Total Design Method'; see Dillman, 1978.) (Technical Notes: Establishment of the 2000-2002 Presbyterian Panel)
All individuals were mailed a reminder postcard on October 4, 1999. A second reminder, including a replacement copy of the questionnaire, was sent on October 27, 1999, to all sampled persons who had not yet responded. A third reminder (a postcard) was sent on December 15, 1999, to all remaining non-respondents in the member and minister samples only. (Technical Notes)
"The Panel consists of three samples, each drawn from a separate constituency group, or population, of persons affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The PC(USA) includes congregations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico." (Technical Notes)
The member sample was drawn from the population of all active members of congregations affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with the following exclusions: elders currently serving on session and persons unable to complete a mailed survey. At the end of 1998, the total active membership of the PC(USA) was 2,587,674. Subtracting the 108,532 active elders, the approximate population for the member sample was 2,479,142.(Technical Notes)
"The population of elders is defined as the subset of active members of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations (1) who have been ordained to the office of elder by a PC(USA) church (or a church affiliated with one of its predecessor denominations) and (2) who are currently serving on the session of a PC(USA) congregation. At the end of 1998, the population of elders serving on session was 108,532. (Technical Notes)
Clergy or Ministers of the Word and Sacrament
"The population of ministers of the Word and Sacrament is defined as those persons who have been ordained to this office and continue to hold it as members of a presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Retired or emeritus ministers are excluded. In 1998, the population of active ministers totaled 14,171." (Technical Notes)
- Sampling Procedures
- "Three representative samples were drawn, one from each of the three populations above, using probability techniques.
"Lacking an exhaustive list of active members of all PC(USA) congregations, [the investigators] implemented a two-stage sampling process, first sampling congregations, then members within each of the sampled congregations. Using proportional stratified sampling, 425 congregations were drawn from the list of 11,261 congregations affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the end of 1998. Strata were based on region, race-ethnicity, and membership size. (Technical Notes)
"Each sampled congregation was sent a form and detailed set of instructions for sampling eight names from the membership list. These instructions asked each congregation to number consecutively the names of all current active members using a standard list (e.g., in alphabetical or zip code order). Next, they were requested to send the Panel the names, addresses, phone numbers, and other information for the individual members whose numbers in this process corresponded to one of eight random numbers generated for that congregation by the Panel." (Technical Notes)
"... Responses were accepted until early in 1999, although most congregations responded by the end of September. A postcard reminder and second copy of the form and instructions were sent to non-responding congregations on July 2 and July 20, 1999, respectively. Because congregations with large racial-ethnic (i.e., African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American) memberships and those with few total members (less than 100) were less likely to respond, in August Panel staff phoned all non-responding congregations in these categories to encourage participation. In all, 282 congregations (66%) provided completed forms." (Technical Notes)
"Elders were sampled from the same 425 congregations drawn for the member sample. A national list of current elders, based on annual reports by congregations to their presbyteries, is maintained by the Office of the General Assembly. At the time of the sampling (July 1999) this database contained names of elders from 414 of the 425 sampled congregations. Random sampling was used to draw four names from each of the congregations with five or more elders listed, and the total number if four or fewer elders were listed (14 congregations listed three or fewer names). The total sample of elders equaled 1,634." (Technical Notes)
Clergy or Ministers of the Word and Sacrament
"A list of all ordained ministers of the Word and Sacrament is maintained by the Office of the General Assembly based on reports from stated clerks of presbyteries. A total sample of 2,197 was drawn in two steps. First, all ministers serving as pastors (including associate, interim, stated supply, tentmaker, etc.) at the 425 congregations chosen for the member sample were included (n=655). The rest were then drawn randomly from the remaining list of all active ministers.
"For most analyses, the ordained minister sample is split into two sub-samples: pastors [those serving a congregation] and specialized clergy [those serving in all other settings, both church-related and not]. This division is effected from responses to questions on current call asked on the initial survey." (Technical Notes)
Response rates in 1999, by sample, were: Members, 60 percent; Elders, 70 percent; Ministers of the Word and Sacrament, 68 percent.
- Principal Investigators
- Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and John P. Marcum, Panel Administrator
- Related Publications
- Background Report for the 2000-2002 Presbyterian Panel. 2000. Louisville, KY: Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The U.S. Congregational Life Survey (Presbyterian Panel Version): The Report of the May 2001 Presbyterian Panel Survey. 2002. Louisville, KY: Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).