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The American Denominations feature brings together data from across the ARDA website and from a variety of sources. Listed below are the sources we used for assembling information on each denomination.

Snapshot and Distribution Data

Snapshot and map data are were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include statistics for 236 religious groups, providing information on the number of their congregations and adherents within each state and county in the United States. Clifford Grammich, Kirk Hadaway, Richard Houseal, Dale E. Jones, Alexei Krindatch, Richie Stanley and Richard H. Taylor supervised the collection. These data originally appeared in 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study, published by ASARB. [Full Details on RCMS Data]


Denominational Data

All data on clergy, members, and churches are taken from the National Council of Churchesí Historic Archive CD and recent print editions of the Councilís Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The CD archives all 68 editions of the Yearbook (formerly called Yearbook of the Churches and Yearbook of American Churches) from 1916 to 2000. Read more information on the Historic Archive CD and the Yearbook.

Membership figures are "inclusive." According to the Yearbook, this includes "those who are full communicant or confirmed members plus other members baptized, non-confirmed or non-communicant." Each denomination has its own criteria for membership.

When a denomination listed on the Historic Archive CD was difficult to identify, particularly in early editions of the Yearbook, the ARDA staff consulted numerous sources, including Meltonís Encyclopedia of American Religions and the Handbook of Denominations in the United States. In some cases, ARDA staff consulted the denominationís website or contacted its offices by phone. When a denomination could not be positively identified, its data were omitted.


Denominational Histories

Most denominational descriptions were provided by J. Gordon Melton. The remaining descriptions were written by Stephen Merino using the Encyclopedia of American Religions and Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches as references. The diagrams displaying denominational mergers, schisms, and name changes were created using the following sources:

  • Daniel G. Reid, Robert D. Linder, Bruce L. Shelley, Harry S. Stout, Editors. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990.
  • J. Gordon Melton. Encyclopedia of American Religions. Seventh Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, Inc., 2003.
  • Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, Craig D. Atwood. Handbook of Denominations in the United States. Twelfth Edition. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005.
  • Robert C. Wiederaenders, Editor. Historical Guide to Lutheran Church Bodies in North America. St. Louis, MO: Lutheran Historical Conference, 1998.

    The ARDA would also like to thank the following individuals for their personal assistance in improving the accuracy of American Denominations:

  • Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Director, Institute for the Study of American Religion (ISAR)
  • Joel Thoreson, Archivist for Reference Services, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Anne Leveque, Research Specialist in Religion, Congressional Research Service.