The data I wish I had

Last time, I begged patience for a review of Unitarian Universalist congregational expenses over membership. My goal isn’t to see trends — I have neither the data nor the statistical chops to do that. What I’d like to see — or, rather scan — is if there are loose clumps of congregations based on their resources and what they claim to do. Claim, because it would be difficult also to determine the quality of program or congregational life this way.

So now that my caveats are done, I do wish I had the following:

  • List of congregations keyed to zip code, so I could weigh the budgets to cost of living. Possible, but would take effort.
  • A breakdown of income. Now that not going to happen, but it would be interesting to see which congregations are living off a legacy and if they have other features in common.
  • What staff each church has. And in particular, if a minister is full or part-time, and if salaried, tent-making or volunteer. I bet someone knows this.
  • Likewise what the building situations are. And the mortgages.
  • A quick key to which congregations are federated. I know most of them, and I can tell they skew the numbers.
  • Numbers of non-member participants — difficult — and childhood religious education enrollment — available in theory, but would need the development of a relational database. A bit out of the scope of this project.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 44, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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