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A Study of the American Mainline Clergy: Variety and Plurality Within a Profession

Cline, Hugh F.; Flaugher, Ronald L.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Clergy, Demography, Factor Analysis, Job Analysis, Religion, Religious Differences, Surveys


(80pp.) A survey of nearly 1700 ministers from eight denominations was conducted to explore the diversity in the interpretation of that profession by its incumbents. Participants were Episcopalian, Presbyterian (USA), Lutheran (ELCA), United Methodist, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic and Reform Jewish. The survey asked about the respondents' definitions of effective ministry, their ratings on the importance of issues, a report on ministerial functions, and their motivation for entering the clergy. Ten scales were identified which collectively could characterize each group. Results indicate three basically different orientations, but not the traditional one of "Catholic, Protestant, Jew." The tri-partite division suggested here is "Southern Baptist, Other Christian, and Jew." The data also confirmed a number of trends (e.g. more women entering the ministry, and Roman Catholic priests having higher average age and fewer years of service remaining than any other denomination.) However, although the denominations are distinctive in their average scores, the data also revealed considerable variation within groups. Two appendices present: 1) details of the instrument development and survey procedure; and 2) identification of the 10 dimensions and development of the descriptive scales for each. (JGL)

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