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Sacred Stories, Spiritual TribesFinding Religion in Everyday Life$

Nancy Tatom Ammerman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199896448

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199896448.001.0001

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(p.305) Appendix 1 Participants and Their Religious Communities

(p.305) Appendix 1 Participants and Their Religious Communities

Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes
Oxford University Press

Sampling techniques are described in Chapter One, along with a discussion of some of the limitations of the sample. The quota sample employed by the project resulted in ninety-five participants distributed across most of the American religious and nonreligious spectrum. The Pew Religious Landscape survey allows us to compare their characteristics to roughly similar categories of tradition and attendance in the American population (see Table A.1). In broad contours, participants encompass most of that religious landscape in roughly representative numbers.

Table A.1. Religious Distribution of the Sample Compared to National Population

Religious Tradition

Frequency of Attendance






Number in study sample (target number Pew survey would suggest)

Number in study sample (target number Pew Survey would suggest)

Mainline Protestant

14 (18)

0 (1)

2 (5)

9 (3)

3 (5)

14 (14)

Conservative Protestant

20 (26)

0 (1)

6 (5)

4 (3)

10 (11)

20 (20)


20 (24)

2 (1)

6 (7)

3 (4)

9 (8)

20 (20)

African American Protestant

10 (7)

0 (〈1)

2 (2)

6 (2)

2 (6)

10 (10)


10 (2)

0 (1)

5 (5)

3 (2)

2 (2)

10 (11)

Latter-day Saint

5 (2)

0 (〈1)

0 (〈1)

1 (〈1)

4 (4)

5 (5)








All others







No affiliation

11 (16)

11 (4)

0 (6)

0 (〈1)

0 (〈1)

11 (11)

Total in sample(total suggested by Pew survey)

95 (100)

13 (10)

21 (33)

31 (14)

30 (38)

95 (95)

Source: National figures calculated from the Pew Religious Landscape Survey (Religion and Public Life 2008). Our “often” approximates Pew’s “once a week or more.” “Rare” approximates Pew’s “seldom” plus Pew’s “few times a year, ” and “average” approximates Pew’s “once or twice a month.”

Recruiting participants who were religiously affiliated involved selecting religious communities from among the typical range of traditions and selecting clusters of five quota-designated participants from each. The congregations have all been given pseudonyms in the text. They include the following:

Mainline Protestant

  • All Saints Episcopal, a classic New England, predominantly White parish, averaging up to one hundred in attendance in an affluent Boston suburb.

  • Grimsby United Church of Christ, the other classic New England, predominantly White, congregation in the same Boston suburb—same social location, different theological and liturgical tradition. It is about twice as large.

  • South Street Presbyterian is in an urban neighborhood of Atlanta. Predominantly White, it has an average attendance of about two hundred.

(p.306) Conservative Protestant

  • Center Street Church is a thriving evangelical congregation in the city of Boston. Predominantly White but with a noticeable international contingent, they average at least six hundred at their main Sunday morning service.

  • Brookfield Baptist Church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and situated near the border between city and suburb in Atlanta. It is predominantly White but seeking to grow from its current one hundred or so attenders by reaching out to a more diverse set of neighbors.

  • (p.307) Atlanta Vineyard Church is a rapidly growing, mixed-ethnic charismatic congregation located in the city.

  • Deer Valley Church is a nondenominational, predominantly White, evangelical megachurch, located in an Atlanta exurb, and attracting well over 2,000 each Sunday. (p.308)

Black Protestant

  • Cornerstone Baptist Church is a historic African American congregation affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA. Situated in an affluent close-in suburb of Boston, they average about 150 in attendance.

  • New Beginnings is a historic African Methodist Episcopal church in a poor urban neighborhood in Atlanta. Attendance averages around three hundred.

Roman Catholic

  • St. Felix, a mixed-ethnic parish in a Boston urban neighborhood, averages a hundred or so in each of several ethnic-specific Masses.

  • St. Sabina, another mixed-ethnic parish, in a different Boston urban neighborhood, is slightly larger than St. Felix.

  • St. Michael’s, a large, mostly White parish is in a close-in suburb of Atlanta. Full of families, it draws 1,000 or more on a weekend.

  • St. Agnes is a mixed-race/multiethnic parish in Atlanta that is not quite as large as St. Michael’s.


  • Congregation Sinai is a Conservative Jewish congregation in suburban Boston. It draws up to 150 for special ceremonies but has a smaller core of regular attenders.

  • Temple Beth Torah is a very large Reform Jewish congregation in a close-in suburb of Atlanta. It too has a regular core of a few dozen worshippers, with much larger crowds for special events.


  • A Neopagan circle of a couple of dozen members, is all White and mostly women. They meet in a rural area outside Atlanta.

  • Cromer, Third Ward, a mixed-ethnic Latter-day Saints congregation averaging about 150 in attendance, is located in the exurbs of Boston.