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A Successful Annual Meeting
Image: FACT Annual Meeting attendees gathered at the Presbyterian Church (USA) headquarters in Louisville, KY on August 9 and 10. Zoom attendees not pictured, but a successful hybrid event!
Executive Director's Report

FACT members, friends, and supporters,

Having recently returned from this year’s Faith Communities Today (FACT) Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY, I am penning this note to update you on some of the key highlights emerging from the gathering and provide you with a sense of what to expect from the initiative over the coming year.

One of the things that has made the FACT partnership successful for over 20 years now is the opportunity to convene and break bread with other religious researchers and denominational/faith tradition representatives from across the religious landscape of America. As with many events during the pandemic, our annual meetings went virtual in 2020 and 2021. This was our first in-person annual meeting since 2019 (due to the pandemic) and our first hybrid one. Despite a few audio challenges, it was a great success! In fact, several participants shared that it was the best hybrid gathering they’ve attended to date. A tremendous thanks to our partners at the Presbyterian Church (USA) for being such wonderful hosts and providing us with a southern hospitality unique to the Ohio Valley! Read more about the gathering in this great write-up from the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

With many exciting plans in the pipeline, here’s what you can expect from FACT in the year ahead:
  • A FACT 2023 nationally representative key informant survey
  • Topical reports based on FACT 2020 data exploring:
-------------------------Congregational vitality
-------------------------Multiracial congregations
-------------------------Interfaith collaboration
-------------------------Mergers, new churches and multi-site congregations

As we prepare to launch a new survey in 2023, if your denomination or faith tradition is not already a FACT partner (or has not been involved in recent years), now is the perfect time to join (or rejoin) to ensure your group is represented in the national sample and has a voice in the process. To learn more about what new membership or renewal entails, please visit this page or contact me.

Thank you for your continued interest in our research. Please continue to keep an eye on our newsletter and website for insights and practical reports on congregations and congregational life in the U.S.
New FACT Co-Chair Elected

The Rev. Dr. Molly James was elected as the next FACT Co-Chair serving a 2-year term from 2022 to 2024, taking the reigns from Dr. Susan Barnett (PCUSA), who has faithfully served the initiative in this role for the past 4 years. Molly currently serves as the Deputy Executive Officer of General Convention for The Episcopal Church. She holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Exeter (UK). As a priest, she has served as a member of the Bishops’ Staff in Connecticut, a parish priest, hospital chaplain, and as an adjunct professor focusing on ethics and pastoral care. 

She has been involved with FACT since 2019 when she began her current role with The Episcopal Church. In her campaign statement, Molly shared:

I reached out to [Dr. Scott Thumma, FACT Chair] for assistance and wisdom, since congregational reporting was now a part of my job. Together we brought The Episcopal Church back into a more active role with FACT, which has been a wonderful and enriching experience for my work and for TEC. No doubt our reporting and data analysis has been strengthened by our involvement with FACT. Joining the Steering Committee in 2021 was a blessing. I value collegiality, collaboration, and shared learning and appreciate that I have been warmly welcomed into the FACT community even as one with no formal training in statistics. Because the work of FACT seeks to understand the life and work of faith communities, theological training is an asset that complements the data analysis. I believe it is essential that our collective work is technically analytic, looking at qualitative and quantitative data, while also offering theological reflection and insight. 

I am passionate about what data has to teach us about where we have been and what the future might hold for faith communities in America. Grounded and data driven decision making will be important for our faith communities, and FACT helps to make this possible. FACT has much to offer its members and the greater community, and I am honored to be elected as the next FACT Co-Chair. 

Please join us in congratulating Molly on her election! Learn more about who currently serves on the FACT Steering Committee here.
Recent Coverage of Faith Communities Today Research

Faith Communities Today |