Research & Evaluation

We are reorganizing. With the advent of the Congregation Pulse Surveys, this page is going to take on more work. It will continue to provide information about Parochial Report filing. It will also include information about the new Congregation Pulse Surveys. We will also provide here links to reports generated by the ELCA Office of Research & Evaluation and other services.

Resources provided by Research & Evaluation

Synod Data Toolkit for 2022

Ever wonder where the information ends up that you submit in your parochial report? One of the reports generated is the Synod Data Toolkit. This is a compendium of the data for a specific year. You may study the WV-WMD Synod Data Toolkit for 2024 by clicking the link (for the PDF download). This is public information, and a separate data toolkit is available for each synod at https://www.elca.org/Resources/Congregation-and-Synod-Data#SynodStats.

Congregation Trend Reports

Congregation trend reports provide information about a congregation which can be especially helpful during planning or the call process. Trend reports are available to all ELCA congregations and include information like reported membership, average worship attendance and giving. You can find a congregation trend report by looking up the congregationís name using the ELCA Directory.

Parochial Reports

*C9.12(b). The pastor of this congregation: shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod.

The annual congregation report (more commonly called known as "the parochial report") is not merely an exercise in number crunching. The data collected assists the congregation, the synod, and the national church. "How?" you might ask. Let's take them one by one.

  • The congregation benefits from periodic self-evaluation. Demographics, financials, and other narrative information can be an important part of self-evaluation. Even something as apparently mundane as having correct contact information is important; e.g., the contact information for your congregation is part of the congregation lookup system that people do use to locate potential new church homes when they relocate. The information gathered can also be very important in the call process as both your call committee and potential candidates will want those numbers. N.B., candidates have turned down invitations to interview because the congregations presented did not have parochial reports for several years in a row. Lastly, a congregation that conscientiously completes its report every year has access to the automated trends report, information that may be useful in congregational planning.
  • The synod benefits not only in its call process work but also in its budget development and subsequent mission support formula. Old data, especially when it reports larger membership or stronger financial health, usually hurts a congregation because the synod sets mission support based upon those numbers. Accurate data is also important in the development of cooperative agreements, grant applications, and the proactive delivery of services. Allocation of voting members to Churchwide Assembly is also based upon reported demographics.
  • The national church benefits from accurate data in the same way that the synod does.

Parochial Report 2023

The online system for 2023 Form A and Form C submissions is open. It officially closed a few weeks back, but it is still not too late to get your data entered. Access through the ELCA's Annual Congregation Report page.

Advance materials mailed Jan 8

On 8 January 2024, the Office of the Secretary of the ELCA sent to congregations a print package with information related to parochial reports. Assuming you have regularly updated your congregation's contact information, you have received this information. These items and access to the forms are posted on the ELCA's Annual Congregation Report page.

Parochial Report 2024: Changes

Form C will be discontinued with Parochial Report 2024. The Congregation Pulse Surveys will take its place.

Congregation Pulse Surveys

As explained by the Office of the Secretary of the ELCA:

The ELCA Congregation Pulse Surveys are an experimental effort to allow ELCA congregations and worshiping communities to communicate their perspectives, strengths, and development needs to synods and the churchwide organization.

Historically, the Annual Congregation Report Form C was a way for congregations and worshiping communities to communicate their knowledge, attitudes, and practices on a wide variety of topics to synods and the churchwide organization.

As time went by, the Office of the Secretary determined that Form C was no longer a helpful information-gathering tool. There was no common theme to the questions, so they frequently appeared unorganized. Given limited space on the form, only one question about a given topic could be included. Finally, the entire process took too long; questions solicited in the summer of one year were not answered until the fall of the next year.

With those concerns in mind, we are trying a new way to collect data. Instead of soliciting information from all congregations and worshiping communities simultaneously through Form C, we will be conducting quarterly Congregation Pulse Surveys. The Pulse Surveys seek to address some of the same topics covered by Form C; however, they provide an opportunity to dig a bit deeper to better understand the perceptions and actions of congregations and worshiping communities. Additionally, with quicker turnaround of reporting results, synods and the churchwide organization will be able to begin conversations based on responses, make adjustments to better serve the needs of congregations and worshiping communities, and gain insight into the impact of those changes.

Over the next year each ELCA congregation and worshiping community will receive one Pulse Survey, in either April, July, October, or January 2025. Surveys will be distributed to the email address on file for the congregation or worshiping community with the churchwide organization.

For congregations or worshiping communities who do not have a specific email address on file, the survey will be sent to the rostered minister, administrative assistant, or Council President.
The surveys are designed to be completed in five minutes or less and without any research. Each survey will remain open for three weeks. At that point, the data will be summarized and shared.

To learn more about the thought and design of the Congregation Pulse Surveys, click here.

The first Congregation Pulse Survey was distributed 17 April 2024. There were some problems with distribution, so the deadline has been extended to 17 May 2024.


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West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church
309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
304-363-4030  +  Porter@WV-WMD.org

Last updated: 11 May 2024