The Power of Maps

Are you into maps? There are two great websites that allow you to view and generate maps about various demographic statistics for the United Church of Christ, as well as other denominations and faith traditions.

The GIS Maps page of The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) website gives you the ability to generate a variety of maps that demonstrate both social and religious trends in the U.S. For example, if you wanted to compare the percentage of UCC members within each U.S. county in 1980, 1990, and 2000, maps can be generated for each decade. Image

You also might want to take some time to look at the treasure of resources and tools available on the entire ARDA website–many new features have been added recently, including The Learning Center for higher education faculty and religious educators and the Religion Research Hub which provides a Best Practices section for researchers and church leaders.

Most of the ARDA maps are generated from data collected by the Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS). On this website, you can generate maps from the 2010 RCMS (which can’t yet be found on the ARDA site, as their maps only reflect information as of 2000). On the Maps and Charts for 2010 page, you can generate maps for a number of demographic features by denomination or faith tradition including adherent change, congregation locations, and population penetration. There is even an option to create a cartogram!

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The RCMS website also has a number of other resources including reports and analyses and a list generation function to create downloadable statistical reports (in Excel) of UCC churches or any other faith tradition.

With tools like these, there are infinite possibilities for gathering information about one’s own tradition, as well as other traditions. Simple, easy-to-use resources make research and statistics accessible to everyone and can have a greater impact on congregational faith formation and decision-making. Have fun exploring!

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