When We Gather at the Table

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1 When We Gather at the Table A PC(USA) Family Portrait

2 2015 Survey COGA and PMA Research Services 3,427 respondents Who we are as a church Who God is calling us to be Discussed in committees at GA, with emphasis on implications for each committee s business Summary at:

3 Survey Design Volunteers, not a random sample However, demographics similar to church as a whole Open-ended questions no preset list of answers Did not set out to categorize answers or respondents, but some clear themes emerged

4 Participants Roles in the Church Ruling Elders 41% Teaching Elders 30% Commissioned Ruling Elders 4% Deacons 6% Members 19%

5 Theological and Political Orientations Theology: Conservative 35% Liberal 54% Neutral 11% Politics: Conservative 29% Liberal 62% Neutral 9%

6 Is it important to be part of the PC(USA)? Yes 56% No 34% Don t know, not sure, can t decide 10% Big divide between liberals and conservatives 74% of liberals said yes, but only 29/33% of conservatives

7 Why is PC(USA) affiliation unimportant to so many? Health and vitality of congregation is more important than denominational affiliation 62% PC(USA) has departed from scripture, is too political, etc. 38%

8 Why are we Presbyterians? If someone asked you why you are Presbyterian rather than belonging to some other denomination, what would you tell them? Answers suggest that respondents, intellectually and emotionally, place a high value on our Reformed identity. But notice that respondents viewed different factors as important to their congregations and to them personally

9

10 What does the church do well? Helping others 36% Polity 24% Helping the denomination (congregations and the broader church) 21% Being a thinking church 21% Inclusive and welcoming 19% Theology 16% Community and connectionalism 14% Negative comments 12%

11 What are we better equipped to do as a national denomination? Similar answers except that helping others led by a much larger margin 59% to 30% for the next highest category, helping the denomination Polity fell to 8% Ecumenical and interfaith relations climbed to 5%

12 What does the church need to change? Focus outward (helping others) 24% Increased spirituality/faithfulness (return to scripture, God, Jesus) 19% Focus inward (discipleship, ministry to the worshipping community) 17% Promote reconciliation and allow theological diversity 16% Streamline and flatten hierarchy 14%

13 What does the church need to change? Avoid politics, liberalism, and secular culture 13% Polity 12% Be more inclusive and welcoming 11% Think outside the box and be relevant 7% Be more progressive or liberal 5% Be in community 5%

14 What is the church called to be and do in the 21 st century? Focus outward 59% Focus on God/scripture 49% Be more loving/inclusive/welcoming 27% Avoid politics/liberalism/secularism 13% Focus inward 13% Be creative/relevant 12% Promote reconciliation/theological diversity 8%

15 What is the church called to be and do in the 21 st century? Other 6% Be more progressive/liberal 5% Change polity to let congregations leave 4% Focus on youth 3% Build community 3% Ecumenical and interfaith relations 2% Hold on to traditions 1%

16 Segments within the PC(USA) Attitudinal clusters that emerged from the data 79% of respondents expressed views that were sufficiently coherent and consistent to be placed into one of four categories: Purposeful Progressives 35% Disappointed and Discerning 19% Family Facilitators 15% Rooted and Resolute 10%

17 Purposeful Progressives Pleased with the denomination, though would prefer a more progressive identity Feel church needs to be more involved in politics and social action Less tolerant of conservative theologies Some are hopeful conservatives will accept changes and stay Others prefer that conservatives leave the denomination 62% female

18 Disappointed and Discerning Feel forsaken, abandoned, and in some cases held hostage by denomination Either do not like PC(USA) affiliation but are stuck with it or are conflicted and thinking about leaving Feel betrayed Denomination is hostile to conservatives and too political No room for them at the table 64% male

19 Peacemakers Family Facilitators Mostly liberal/progressive, but value theological diversity and would prefer reconciliation between liberals and conservatives Want everyone to stay in the family See those who left as taking the easy way out Believe departing churches place undue emphasis on issues of secondary importance 53% female

20 Rooted and Resolute Unhappy with the denomination feel it has strayed from Bible gotten too involved in liberal politics But place great importance on their denominational identity No current plans to leave Prefer to stay and fight for their beliefs Many believe liberals are vocal minority with disproportionate control 60% male

21 What we do agree on Community, theology, and polity are key reasons why we are Presbyterians Helping our neighbor is important and something we do well However this has different meanings to different groups Liberals think helping our neighbor means social action and advocacy Conservatives think of it in terms of mission and evangelism

22 Implications Survey revealed (or at least quantified) fault lines in the denomination Very different conceptions of what it means to be church (e.g., helping others) But also confirmed that we are still, at least for the moment, a big tent, with diversity of views Raises questions about whether conservatives will feel they still have a place at the table Widespread recognition church is changing no consensus on what future will look like

23 Implications For liberals, question is whether they value theological diversity and keeping peace in the family or whether they prefer that the denomination speak with one voice For conservatives, it is whether they can make peace with an increasingly liberal denomination and continue to do effective mission and ministry at the local level Stay tuned the Holy Spirit is driving the bus, but we don t yet know where it is headed

24 Questions?

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