Survey of Congregations in Metropolitan Chicago, 1994

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > Religious Groups > Congregations/Other Organizations > Others > Summary


The Religion in Urban America Program (RUAP) conducts research in metropolitan Chicago concerning the diverse ways religious organizations of all faiths serve urban people and address urban issues. The heart of the study is an empirical examination of religious and religiously affiliated organizations in metropolitan Chicago. We have conducted case studies of some 75 congregations and numerous other organizations--denominational, ecumenical, and interfaith agencies, religiously based community organizations, and special-purpose groups. Using ethnography as the principal research method, which includes on-site observations and interviews, we attempt to understand and interpret each organization on its own terms and with attention to those features and purposes considered most important by its leaders and constituencies. The Survey of Congregations in Metropolitan Chicago was conducted for the sole purpose of providing information to assist us in selecting congregations to serve as ethnographic case studies.

Data File
Cases: 218
Variables: 65
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: Data were collected on the size, membership characteristics, programs, and other features of congregations located in seven selected neighborhoods in metropolitan Chicago, plus a section of suburban DuPage County. Please note that our only purpose in collecting these data was to provide a partial basis for selecting congregations to serve as case studies in a largely ethnographic research project. We did not anticipate their use for quantitative analysis or their treatment as a single data set. The data on congregations were collected between September 1, 1992, and December 31, 1994, and were current information at the times collected. All the congregations of each particular neighborhood were surveyed together. The demographic data on the neighborhoods in which the congregations were located were taken in 1995 from the 1990 U.S. Census.
Funded By
The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
Park Ridge Center of Health, Faith, and Ethics
Collection Procedures
The congregation data were obtained through a self-administered survey that we mailed to respondents with a self-addressed return envelope. There were small variations in the questionnaires administered in the different neighborhoods (changed as we learned what information was most useful to us), so not all questions were asked in all neighborhoods. We attempted to contact all non-respondents by phone, and took responses by phone and recorded them on the questionnaires.
Sampling Procedures
The population was composed of all the religious congregations we could identify in the selected neighborhoods. Each "neighborhood" was defined for our research purposes as a Chicago "Community Area" or combination of "Community Areas" or a combination of specified suburban municipalities. "Community Area" is a sub-municipal designation unique to Chicago for which U.S. Census data are readily available.

By reference to the "Commarea" (Community Area) field in the data set, these "neighborhoods" were defined by RUAP. Please note that the neighborhood names are close to, but not always identical with, the official names of community areas, and should not be confused with each other. The assigned definitions are as follows:

"Rogers Park": Commarea 1 and 2
"Loop/Near North": Commarea 8 and 32
"Chatham": Commarea 44 and 69
"West Side": Commarea 26, 27, and 28
"Pilsen": Commarea 30 and 31
"Southwest Side": Commarea 62, 63, 65, and 66. (There is also one congregation in Community Area 61 and one congregation in Community Area 68. However, these are immediately adjacent to one of the four community areas and are treated as part of the Southwest Side neighborhood without including the demographic information of the community areas in which they are technically located.)

"Southern DuPage County": This "neighborhood" included the suburban municipalities of Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Lisle, Naperville, Oak Brook, Westmont, Woodridge.

We initially listed these congregations by combining listings from telephone Yellow Pages, denominational directories, and all other religious directories available. Then we conducted a "windshield survey," driving through all the streets within the boundaries of the neighborhood and added to, deleted from or corrected the lists we had assembled from directories.

We sent the survey to every congregation we identified. The response varied widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. The following table shows the neighborhoods in which we conducted research, the community areas and municipalities from which these neighborhoods were taken, the number of congregations identified in each neighborhood, and the number of responses in each neighborhood.
Principal Investigators
Dr. Lowell W. Livezey, Director and Principal Investigator
Religion in Urban America Program
University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Elfriede Wedam, Associate Director and Research Associate
Research Associate, Religion in Urban Culture Project, The Polis Center, IUPUI

Dr. Paul D. Numrich, Research Associate
Research Assistant Professor
Office of Social Science Research
University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. David D. Daniels, Research Associate
Associate Professor of Church History
McCormick Theological Seminary

Dr. Larry G. Murphy, Research Associate
Associate Professor of Church History
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Dr. Matthew J. Price, Research Associate
Lecturer, Duke University Divinity School

Dr. Peter R. D'Agostino, Research Associate
Assistant Professor of Religion
Stonehill College

Ms. Janise Hurtig, Research Associate
Post doctoral Fellow
University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. William Peterman, Research Associate
Professor of Geography
Chicago State University
Related Publications
Lowell W. Livezey, ed., (1996) Religious Organizations and Structural Change in Metropolitan Chicago: The Research Report of the Religion in Urban America Program. Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago, 1996.