The Presbyterian Panel, begun in 1973, 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 August 2003 survey focuses on Presbyterians Today.
- Data File
- Cases: 1,713
Weight Variable: None
- Data Collection
- Date Collected: October 2002 (Background questions) and August 2003.
- 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 October 21, 2002, each sampled individual was sent . . . a letter from the Reverend Fahed Abu-Akel, Moderator of the 214th General Assembly, . . . encouraging participation; a personally addressed cover letter, . . . from John P. Marcum, Panel Administrator; a tri-fold brochure describing the Panel in a question-and-answer format; a questionnaire; and a postage-paid, business-reply envelope. (Overall design of the survey and the mailings followed the “Tailored Design Method”; see Dillman, 2000.)
"All individuals who had not yet responded were mailed a reminder postcard on November 1, 2002. A second reminder, including cover letter, replacement copy of the questionnaire, Q&A brochure, and a postage-paid reply envelope, was sent on November 22, 2002, to all sampled persons who had not yet responded. A third reminder, with cover letter, replacement copy of the questionnaire, Q&A brochure, and postage-paid reply envelope was sent on December 13, 2002, to all remaining non-respondents in the member sample and all but 200 non-respondents in the minister samples only (owing to depletion of the supply of blank questionnaires). These 200 ministers and all non-responding elders were sent a final reminder postcard, also on December 13.
"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) consists of congregations in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
"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 2001, the total active membership of the PC(USA) was 2,493,781. Subtracting the 111,276 active elders, the approximate population for the member sample was 2,383,505.
"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 2001, the population of elders serving on session was 111,276.
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. At the end of 2001, the population of active ministers totaled 13,935.” (Marcum, technical notes, 2003).
- Sampling Procedures
- "Three representative samples were drawn, one from each of the three populations, using probability techniques.
Members and Elders
"Lacking exhaustive, national lists of all active members and active elders in PC(USA) congregations, we implemented a two-stage sampling process. First, using proportional stratified sampling, we drew a sample of 900 congregations from the national total of 11,142. Congregational strata were based on region, race/ethnicity, and membership size. Half of the congregations in each stratum were randomly assigned to the member sample, and half to the elder sample. Each congregation in the member sample was then asked to draw eight member names, using a random process, as described below. The same procedure was followed to sample elders.
Pastors and Specialized Clergy
"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 2,200 ministers was drawn using proportional stratified sampling. All active ministers (i.e., not retired or emeritus) resident in the United States or Puerto Rico were located in one of forty-eight unique strata based on their region of residence (Northeast, Midwest, South, West), their race/ethnicity (African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Native American, White/other, not known), and their occupational category (pastors, specialized clergy). Pastors are ministers serving congregations, including solo, head of staff, associate, interim, designated, and co-pastor; specialized clergy are ministers serving elsewhere, such as chaplains, denominational staff, counselors, and seminary faculty, as well as those in secular positions. Random sampling was used within strata.
Overall response rates, by sample: members, 56%; elders, 76%; and ordained ministers, 65%.” (Marcum, technical notes, 2003).
- Principal Investigators
- Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and John P. Marcum, Panel Administrator
- Related Publications
- Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Background Report for the 2003-2005 Presbyterian Panel. Louisville, KY, 2003.
Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Presbyterians Today: The Report of the August 2003 Presbyterian Panel Survey. Louisville, KY, 2004.