“… the nature of the sociological, theological, and political changes occurring within the ranks of Protestant clergy over the past quarter century. ”
The core question to be addressed is the extent to which, over the past quarter century, continuity and change have been evident among American Protestant clergy sociologically, theologically, and politically. The proposed survey to be conducted in late 2016 and early 2017 would build upon, and predominantly replicate, the three previous waves of random surveys of clergy from the same ten denominations in which I participated (1988/89) and coordinated (2000/01 and 2008/09). Obviously, the ranks of middle-aged and older clergy in 1988/89 have largely, if not totally, already departed from active ministry, being replaced by new cohorts of clergy, exhibiting a different gender composition, being drawn from different cultural contexts, and having had different social, vocational, and political experiences. Thus, rather than making assessments of continuity and change among Protestant clergy based simply on impressions or conjecture, the proposed study would continue the periodic collection of data drawn of clergy from the same ten (five evangelical and five mainline) denominations. This study would provide pastors and parishioners, as well as scholars more generally, with far more accurate information about the nature and level of change that has been occurring within the ranks of Protestant clergy over the past quarter century.