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Faith Communities Today Releases Findings from the Largest Survey of U.S. Congregations Ever Conducted
HARTFORD, CT – Faith Communities Today (FACT), a multireligious and collaborative research initiative that has been tracking trends in the U.S. religious landscape since 2000, has just released the findings of its 2020 survey of 15,278 congregations from across 80 denominations and religious groups, the largest national survey of congregations conducted in the U.S. to date.

The report “Twenty Years of Congregational Change: The 2020 Faith Communities Today Overview” captures a pre- and early pandemic picture of America’s faith communities and affirms many of the trends evident in the religious landscape over the past few decades, while also highlighting some distinct areas of change. 

Key findings include:

  • Prior to the pandemic, many congregations were small and getting smaller, while the largest ones keep getting more attendees. 
  • Despite continued declines in attendance overall, about a third of congregations are growing and are spiritually vital.
  • Being a larger congregation offers some distinct advantages, but each size grouping has certain strengths.
  • Congregations have continued to diversify, particularly in terms of racial composition.
  • A dramatically increased utilization of technology can be seen over the past two decades, even pre-pandemic.
  • The fiscal health of congregations has remained mostly steady.
  • There is a clear and demonstrated path toward vitality with characteristics that are consistent across the two decades of our survey efforts.

“This research is thrilling both to collect and to explore. Having 20 years of results to reflect upon the trends shaping American congregations, and simultaneously examining over 15,000 recent cases to dive deep into patterns and dynamics just prior to the pandemic gives us considerable insight into what congregations are facing and the paths to emerge from the past two years with resilience and vitality,” said Scott Thumma, Director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Co-Chair of Faith Communities Today.

Sarah Brown, Executive Director of Faith Communities Today echoed Thumma’s sentiments.

“To have collected this volume of responses from across such a wide spectrum of religious traditions and denominations is a remarkable feat and to have successfully done so amid a global pandemic is even more noteworthy. Our amazing network of partners who have worked collaboratively on this initiative for two decades make our ongoing research model unique and unparalleled,” she said.

Over the next two years, Faith Communities Today will be releasing a series of focused reports that offer a deeper dive into specific topics explored through their 2020 survey data. These reports will be available free of charge to faith leaders and other interested parties on the Faith Communities Today website. Many Faith Communities Today partners are also participating in a large national study conducted by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research entitled Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations: Innovation Amidst and Beyond COVID-19. Learn more about this project and stay up to date on the findings at
Faith Communities Today Issue of Theology Today
We are thrilled to share that the latest issue of Theology Today (Volume 78, Issue 3) is devoted to Faith Communities Today content, including a history of our 26-year collaborative partnership, summary of our overall 2020 survey findings, denominational findings from our 2020 survey, and theological reflections on all of the above! For more details, see the Table of Contents.

Access is limited to subscribers of the journal, but what better time to subscribe? Single issues can also be purchased.
Webinar: Understanding the Decrease in African American Mosques and Attendees
The US Mosque Study 2020, conducted as part of our larger Faith Communities Today 2020 study, found a sharp decrease in African American Mosques and the number of African American attendees. Learn more about this phenomenon and what is needed to address it in a webinar hosted by our colleagues at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) on Thursday, October 14 at 3pm EST.
How Have Congregations Adapted to the COVID-19 Pandemic?: Findings from the FACT 2020 Survey
Our partner project being conducted by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations, will be exploring how congregations have adapted to the pandemic systematically over the next five years, but this article explores early insights into how congregations have responded based on the Faith Communities Today 2020 survey findings.
New Resource: Transitioning Older and Historic Sacred Spaces
Our colleagues at Partners for Sacred Places recently released a new resource that presents community-minded options and alternatives that can help faith communities retain the civic value of sacred places even if they change use or ownership.
Transitioning Older and Historic Sacred Places: Community-Minded Approaches for Congregations and Judicatories is designed to provide a practical guide for clergy and religious leaders that fills a gap in the resources available to congregations and communities.
Hartford Seminary Has a New Name
Our subscribers who are familiar with the fact that the Faith Communities Today initiative is housed under Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary may notice that Hartford Seminary has a new name. Going forward, the institution will be called Hartford International University for Religion and Peace, or simply Hartford International University (HIU). The name change is the culmination of a 2-year-long strategic planning initiative that positions the university as a global leader in interreligious education, peace studies, and religion research. Learn more at the following links:
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