The Pandemic’s Impact on Churches: What the Data Show Thus Far | 7:00PM - 8:30PM EDT

June 27, 2022
from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

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This free, online webinar will report new findings from surveys taken in August 2021, December 2021 and March 2022 of a total of 5000 churches about how the churches and their clergy are faring, as well as the challenges and possibilities facing faith communities.

It will provide an overview of a Lilly Endowment-funded research project led by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at HIU to track what the next five years will look like for faith communities, their leaders, and members with a particular emphasis on changes in attendance, the pastoral role and member engagement.

Presentations by the project team will be followed by reflections from two clergy members and a dedicated time for Q&A.


About the Speakers

Dr. Scott Thumma is Professor of Sociology of Religion and director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford International University. He has published numerous research reports, website documents, articles, and chapters on religious life in addition to co-authoring three books, The Other 80 Percent, Beyond Megachurch Myths and Gay Religion. He has researched and written on megachurches, evangelicalism, gay religious life, the rise of nondenominationalism, and the changing religious landscape. Scott is the Principal Investigator for a Lilly Endowment Thriving in Ministry grant and a large 5-year grant to study the impact of the pandemic on churches. He co-leads the Faith Communities Today national research project and has conducted 7 national studies of megachurches and 3 national studies of nondenominational churches.

Dr. Allison Norton is the Faculty Associate in Migration Studies and Congregational Life at Hartford International University, where she directs the Pastoral Innovation Network of New England and serves as Co-Investigator of the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations study. She teaches courses in sociology of religion, immigration, and multicultural and intergenerational ministry. Her research and publications explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. congregations, the rise of megachurches in West Africa, the transnational dimension of African Pentecostalism, the role of migration on the worldwide expansion of the Christian faith, and the religious identities of the “new” second generation.

Dr. Andrew Gardner is a Visiting Faculty Associate in American Religious History and Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. With a PhD in History from Florida State University and with experience using Graphic Information Systems (GIS), he brings another disciplinary perspective to the project. He has published academic articles in CrossCurrents, The American Baptist Quarterly, Baptist History & Heritage, and Implicit Religion as well as numerous public-facing articles with Baptist News Global. He is the author of Reimagining Zion: A History of the Alliance of Baptists. He is the author of Reimagining Zion: A History of the Alliance of Baptists (2015), and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Baptists and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Hannah Evans is a Doctoral Research Fellow at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. She serves as the quantitative data analyst on panel data for this project, and ongoing analyses of Faith Communities Today surveys. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in sociology from Baylor University, and her dissertation explores the role of race in religious secularization among American young adults. She also studies racism and antiracism within organizations, particularly congregations and universities.

Dr. Rachael Lawrence is the Senior Editor of Judson Press, the publishing ministry of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies. Before serving in this ministry, she was a bi-vocational pastor, serving as pastor in churches in Enfield and Suffield, CT, and as a postdoctoral research fellow in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her work has been published in the Christian Citizen, Evaluation, and New Directions in Institutional Research. She also served as editor for the American Journal of Evaluation. She holds a PhD in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is an ordained pastor in the ABC-USA.

The Rev. Anna Tew is a Lutheran pastor serving Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she has served for the past six years. A product of several places, she was born in rural Alabama, considers Atlanta home, and lives in and adores New England. A lifelong athlete, Anna enjoys hiking, backpacking, and cycling in the summer, snowboarding in the winter, and running and weightlifting in all seasons. Anna is also a Level 1 CrossFit trainer who enjoys coaching group classes and personal training in her spare time. She is typically quite happy to chat about the intersections of collective spirituality, congregational life, athletic pursuits, pastoral care, and incarnational theology. Since graduating from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 2011, she has served in a variety of settings, including hospital chaplaincy and small congregations in both urban and rural settings.

Sarah Brown serves as Project Director of the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations study. She manages the daily activities of the grant and research team, and coordinates the communication and evaluation of the overall project. Brown also currently serves as the Executive Director of Faith Communities Today and has extensive experience working with congregations and faith communities in an interfaith context. Over the past several decades, she has managed logistics, budgets and communications on behalf of a wide range of organizations and initiatives across the nonprofit sector, including the Center for Congregations, the Congregational Resource Guide (CRG), National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders, Economic Challenges Facing Indiana Pastors, Fair Labor Association, Vermont Ethics Network, and VNAs of Vermont.


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