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Presbyterian Panel Survey Fall 2011: Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians

The Presbyterian Panel is made up of representative samples of ruling elders (“lay” leaders) currently serving on session, other members of congregations, and teaching elders (ministers of Word and Sacrament) who respond to quarterly surveys about issues that are important to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  (The session is the governing body of a Presbyterian congregation.)  For reporting and analysis, teaching elders are split into two groups based on current call:  pastors, serving congregations, and specialized ministers, serving elsewhere.  Through the use of scientific sampling, the Panel is “re-established” every three years.

The first survey completed by new panelists is designed to provide a broad picture of the people who comprise the denomination.  Unlike with quarterly Panel surveys, Research Services staff develops the topics and questions for this survey.  In addition to describing the denomination as a faith community (beliefs, church background, levels of church involvement, etc.) and a social and demographic community (age, sex, marital status, living arrangements, etc.), this profile survey also provides sample characteristics for use with subsequent surveys (to examine differences in survey responses by age, gender, theology, etc.).