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Presbyterian Panel Survey, February 2012 - Current Issues in Church and Society, All




Marcum, J. P. (2021, August 2). Presbyterian Panel Survey, February 2012 - Current Issues in Church and Society, All.


Summary: The Presbyterian Panel began in 1973 and is an ongoing panel study in which mailed and web-based questionnaires are used to survey representative samples of constituency groups of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). These constituency groups include members, ruling elders currently on session, and teaching elders (pastors, serving congregations, and specialized ministers, serving elsewhere.) New samples are drawn every three years.

The main goal of this study is to gather broad information about Presbyterians in terms of their faith (belief, church background and levels of church involvement) and their social, economic and demographic characteristics (age, sex, marital status, living arrangements, etc.). The February 2012 survey focuses on Current Issues in Church and Society. This dataset contains data from all sampled constituency groups.

Data File

Cases: 2587
Variables: 75
Weight Variable: None

Data Collection

February - April 2012

Original Survey (Instrument)

Current Issues in Church and Society: The February 2012 Survey

Funded By

The office of the Deputy Executive Director for Mission of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Collection Procedures

Note: The description of collection procedures below is quoted from the February 2012 Presbyterian Panel Report.

The current survey is the second completed by the 2012-2014 Panel, sampled in the summer of 2011. The survey was initially distributed in early February 2012 to 1,027 members, 1,415 ruling elders, and 1,514 teaching elders. Most of these panelists (844 members, 1,009 ruling elders, and 882 teaching elders) were sent a printed questionnaire via U.S. mail on February 3. The rest (183 members, 406 ruling elders, and 632 teaching elders) were sent an email invitation that contained a link to a web version of the survey; these latter panelists had signed up for email notification at the time they completed the initial survey in the fall of 2011. (All panelists were able to access and complete the survey online whether they were initially contacted by mail or email.)

Panelists who received email invitations and had not yet responded were sent email reminders on February 14 and March 13. All non-respondents, including those initially sent the email invitation and first email reminder, were sent a postcard reminder on February 23. Returns were accepted through April 30, 2012. Cover letters, email invitations, and reminders came from Perry Chang, administrator of the Panel at the time of the survey. Response rates for this survey are: members, 58%; ruling elders, 66%; teaching elders, 71%. The percentages of respondents who completed the survey online are: members, 30%; ruling elders, 44%; pastors, 59%; and specialized ministers, 54%.

Sampling Procedures

Note: The description of sampling procedures below is quoted from the Appendix B: Technical Notes Establishment of the 2012-2014 Presbyterian Panel.

Pastors and Specialized Ministers

A list of all teaching elders is maintained by the Office of the General Assembly based on reports from stated clerks of presbyteries. A probability sample of 2,368 teaching elders was drawn using proportional stratified sampling. All active teaching elders (that is, not retired or emeritus) residing in the United States or Puerto Rico were located in one of 56 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 ministers; see definitions below). Random sampling was used within strata.

For most analyses, the teaching elder sample is split into the sub-samples of pastors and specialized ministers. To ensure the greatest accuracy and most up-to-date classification in this report, responses to Q7, Q8, Q9, and Q11 on the teaching elder questionnaire rather than occupational codes in the denominational database were used to determine which teaching elders are pastors and which are specialized ministers.

Pastors include teaching elders who serve full-time in a congregation in an installed position, such as pastor or associate pastor, or who serve at least half-time in one of these positions, if not otherwise employed. Interim pastors are also included in this category. Supply pastors are part of this group only if they have no other religious employment, work substantial hours as a supply pastor, or are paid.

Specialized ministers include teaching elders serving full-time in a school or seminary, as a hospital or military chaplain, as staff of a PC(USA) national agency or mid-council, in an ecumenical agency, or in any other (church-related or not church-related) job or position. This category also includes people who work part-time in a non-parish job, if they have no parish employment. People who have both non-parish church-related employment and parish employment are included in this category only if this parish employment does not involve pastoral leadership (for example, director of counseling), is part-time (for example, tentmaker), or is of a limited, temporary nature (for example, stated supply pastor).

Members and Elders

Lacking exhaustive, national lists of all active members of PC(USA) congregations, we implemented a two-stage sampling process for members and ruling elders. For members, we used proportional, stratified sampling to draw a sample of 502 congregations from 10,536 congregations across the country. Congregational strata were based on region, race ethnicity, and membership size. Each sampled congregation was then asked to draw ten member names, using a random process.

A similar procedure was followed to sample ruling elders. First, the number of ruling elders was imputed for each congregation that had not reported a number for 2010, based on the number of ruling elders reported most recently (no earlier than 2005). Then, using proportional, stratified sampling, we drew a sample of 500 congregations from the national total of 10,536, based on region, race ethnicity, and session size (that is, the number of ruling elders currently serving on session). Each sampled congregation was then asked to draw ten ruling elder names, using a random process.

Principal Investigators

Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and John Marcum, Coordinator

Related Publications

Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Current Issues in Church and Society: The Report of the February 2012 Presbyterian Panel Survey. Louisville, KY, 2016.

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