Presbyterian Panel Survey, 2015-2017 - Background Survey, Clergy

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Members or Leaders > Presbyterian > 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, elders, pastors serving in a congregation and specialized clergy 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.). Collected at the start of each new panel, the background variables provide information on members and elders in the 2015-2017 panel.

Data File
Cases: 1,372
Variables: 111
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: June 2, 2015 - April 15, 2016
Original Survey (Instrument)
Presbyterian Panel Study 2015 Demographic Profile: Clergy
Funded By
Congregational Ministries Division, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Collection Procedures
Note: The description of the collection procedures below is quoted from Appendix B: Technical Notes - Establishment of the 2015-2017 Presbyterian Panel

Teaching Elders

The population of teaching elders (ministers of Word and Sacrament) is defined as the people 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 teaching elders are not included. At the time of drawing a random sample of teaching elders for the Panel (June 2015), the population of active teaching elders totaled 10,962.

A total of 6,812 panelists (sampled and volunteer) were invited to participate in this initial Panel background survey. Surveys were distributed via both web-based and paper questionnaires in English, and also offered online in Spanish and Korean. The paper questionnaire was mailed (along with a Communications Panel questionnaire, a cover letter, an informational sheet about the Panel, and a postage-paid reply envelope) on July 14, 2015 to 5,483 individuals who were sampled to become panelists.

Throughout the following months, additional reminders were mailed or emailed to non-responding panelists, and invitations were mailed/emailed to panelists we did not initially have contact information for, seeking their participation. Returns for both versions of the survey were accepted through April 15, 2016.

There were many attempts made to find contact information for the panelists that we had incorrect mailing or email addresses for (or who we were missing contact information for). For this reason, it is not clear exactly how many of the surveys ended up being undeliverable. In the end, 2,424 panelists completed this survey, and the response rate (total surveys answered/total surveys sent) is 35 percent.
Sampling Procedures
Note: The description of the sampling procedures below is quoted from Appendix B: Technical Notes - Establishment of the 2015-2017 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 simple random sample of 2,500 active teaching elders (that is, not retired or emeritus) was drawn. This sample includes both pastors (who serve in a congregation) and specialized ministers (who serve 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).
Principal Investigators
Research Services, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Angie Androit, Principal Investigator and Joelle Kopacz, Co-Investigator

Bookmark and Share