The Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2009

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The Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2009 was a cooperative research endeavor, organized by the Paul B. Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College, that focused on the social characteristics, theological beliefs, civic endeavors, and political attitudes and behavior of American clergy. The project was a cooperative endeavor, with different participants examining clergy from a specific denomination, generally a denomination of which they were either a part of or with which they were very familiar. The group utilized a common questionnaire which largely replicated the questionnaire used in the Cooperative Clergy Study Project of 2001 (the data for which are also housed at ARDA). Participants funded the data collection and data entry costs related to their particular denomination they surveyed, with the data from each denomination or faith tradition then being pooled together to create a combined data file.

In the end, 3,196 clergy from the following denominations were surveyed: the Assemblies of God (AOG); the Christian Reformed Church in North American (CRC); the Disciples of Christ (DOC); the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS); the Mennonite Church, USA; the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (PCUSA); the Reformed Church in America (RCA); the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC); and, the United Methodist Church (UMC). Those participating in the project mailed the questionnaire to a random sample of clergy from the denomination they chose to study. The sample size varied from denomination to denomination, with larger denominations generally having larger sample sizes. The response rate varied by denomination, with smaller denominations generally having higher response rates. Details related to those researching each denomination are presented below. The specific sample size employed and the response rate obtained are found in Appendix A of this document .
Data File
Cases: 3,196
Variables: 219
Weight Variable: WTVAR250
For certain analytic purposes, it may be advantageous to “equalize” the number of clergy across the various denominations. The weight variable adjusts the resultant number of clergy from each denomination to a N of 250.
Data Collection
Date Collected: March - Sept. 2009
Original Survey (Instrument)
Clergy & Public Affairs Survey
Funded By
The Henry Institute at Calvin College
Collection Procedures
Mailed surveys were returned to the particular investigators of each denomination or faith tradition. An online option was made available to those who preferred to answer the survey directly on their computer.
Sampling Procedures
The study sought to survey “preaching” clergy who served congregations within the denomination, with the sample typically drawn from a listing of ordained or licensed clergy within that denomination. Sampling procedures sought to skip those clergy listed who engaged in other types of endeavors (e.g., chaplains, youth ministers, denominational administrators, etc.).

Appendix A

Denomination: Sample Size, Response Rate, Resultant N
Assemblies of God: 990, 21%, 208
Christian Reformed Church: 698, 53%, 370
Disciples of Christ: 957, 35%, 335
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America: 800, 34%, 272
Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod: 855, 42%, 359
Mennonite Church, USA: 963, 54%, 520
Presbyterian Church, USA: 999, 29%, 290
Reformed Church in America: 612, 51%, 312
Southern Baptist Convention: 992, 25%, 248
United Methodist Church: 972, 29%, 282
Principal Investigators
Corwin E. Smidt, of Calvin College, coordinated the research effort.

Here are the principal investigators for each of the various denominations and faith traditions included in the project (note: institutional affiliation is listed with the affiliation at the time when the study was conducted):

1. The Assemblies of God: John Green of the University of Akron;

2. The Christian Reformed Church: James Penning of Calvin College;

3. The Disciples of Christ: Corwin E. Smidt and James Penning of Calvin College;

4. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in American: Laura Olson of Clemson University;

5. The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod: Jeff Walz and Steve Montreal of Concordia University, Wisconsin;

6. The Mennonite Church, U.S.A.: Kyle Kopko of Ohio State University;

7. The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.: Brian Calfano of Southwest Missouri State University;

8. The Reformed Church in America: Corwin E. Smidt of Calvin College;

9. The Southern Baptist Convention: James Guth of Furman University;

10. The United Methodist Church: John C. Green of the University of Akron.
Related Publications
Corwin E. Smidt, Pastors and Public Life: The Changing Face of American Protestant Clergy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Jeff Walz and Stephen Montreal. 2016. “The Political Attitudes and Activities of Missouri Synod Lutheran (LCMS) Clergy in 2001 and 2009: A Research Note.” Review of Religious Research 58 (March): 149-164.
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