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Presbyterian Panel Survey, May 2012 - Spiritual Growth Experiences and Church Retreats, Members and Elders




Marcum, J. P. (2021, August 3). Presbyterian Panel Survey, May 2012 - Spiritual Growth Experiences and Church Retreats, Members and Elders.


The Presbyterian Panel consists of three nationally representative samples of groups affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): members, ruling elders currently on session, and teaching elders. (The session is the governing board in Presbyterian congregations.) New samples are drawn every three years. Panel surveys are conducted quarterly, primarily by mail, but with an online completion option.

The Panel is maintained and directed by the office of Research Services, part of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The first Panel was created in 1973 to provide a means for informing denominational leaders of the opinions and activities of the rank and file across the church. Survey topics and questions are usually developed at the request of, and in consultation with, staff or elected members of national church entities. However, ultimate decisions on content of Panel surveys and the disposition of Panel data are those of Research Services. Standards developed by the American Association of Public Opinion Research guide Panel surveys.

The current survey is the third completed by the 2012-2014 Panel, sampled in the summer of 2011. The survey was initially distributed mid-May 2012. The topics of the survey included events of spiritual growth and church retreats. This dataset only contains the members and elders.

The ARDA has added four additional variables to the original data set to enhance the users' experience on our site.

Data File

Cases: 1268
Variables: 221
Weight Variable: None

Data Collection

May 2012

Original Survey (Instrument)

Presbyterian Panel Survey, May 2012 - Spiritual Growth Experiences and Church Retreats

Funded By

This survey was sponsored by PC(USA) Camp and Conference Ministries. For more information on this ministry, go to

Collection Procedures

The survey was initially distributed mid-May 2012 to 3,910 panelists. Most (822 members, 963 ruling elders, and 819 teaching elders) were sent a printed questionnaire via U.S. mail on May 17. The rest (194 members, 434 ruling elders, and 678 teaching elders) were sent an email invitation that contained a link to a web version of the survey on May 22; these latter panelists had signed up for email notification at the time they completed either the initial survey in the fall of 2011 or the second survey in February 2012.

Panelists who received email invitations and had not yet responded were sent email reminders on May 31 and June 26. All non-respondents, including those initially sent the email invitation and first email reminder, were sent a postcard reminder on June 14. Returns were accepted through August 8, 2012. The cover letter, email invitation, and reminders came from Perry Chang, administrator of the Panel at the time of the survey. Response rates for this survey are: members, 58 percent; ruling elders, 66 percent; teaching elders, 70 percent. All panelists could complete the survey on the web, and the percentages of respondents who did so are: members, 28 percent; ruling elders, 46 percent; pastors, 64 percent; and specialized ministers, 55 percent.

Sampling Procedures

The Panel consists of three samples, each drawn from a separate constituency group, or population, of people
affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The PC(USA) consists of congregations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Each sampled congregation was sent a form and a detailed set of instructions for sampling 10 names, as appropriate, from either the active membership list for the member sample or from the list of ruling elders currently on session for the ruling elder sample. These instructions asked each congregation to number consecutively the names on the appropriate list using a standard ordering (for example, alphabetical order or ZIP code order). Next, the congregation was requested to send the Panel the names, addresses, and other information (see below) for each individual whose number in this process corresponded to one of 10 random numbers generated for that congregation by the Panel. These random numbers fell between zero and the total membership of the congregation for the member sample and between zero and the total size of the session for the ruling elder sample. (We also offered congregations the option of sending the Panel a complete list of members or ruling elders and letting us draw the sample, but only a small number--fewer than five for either sample--opted for this alternative.) Many congregations had fewer than 10 ruling elders (n =218); these were asked to submit all names.

Principal Investigators

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

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