A sociological and demographic analysis of patterns of church membership in the Church of Scotland in the urban city (Dundee)
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This research was stimulated by a concern for the losses in membership being experienced by the Church of Scotland and by the fact that only one research study had been carried out and that had concentrated upon the Church's recruitment of young persons. This was seen as too narrow an approach. The research concentrated on the urban city of Dundee and constructed a computer database of 20,297 membership records  and 3,997 Questionnaire Survey records of actual attenders in the 32 participating congregations. From the straight-forward examination of the demographic and social indicators, eg. age, sex, class, etc., a model of attending frequency is built revealing that the Church's concern might be wisely directed towards better administrative and pastoral care of the existing members as its primary objective. A further research aim was to develop spatial and 'modeling' techniques in order that the existing patterns of allegiance and attendance might be analysed. By examining the differentiation between various sub-sets of members and attenders, the evidence demonstrated that the Scottish council housing policy with its attendant displacement of population in Dundee (outlined in chapter two), had exacerbated the phenomenon of 'membership-at-a-distance'. Distance, in itself produced lower rates of observance, and it is argued, in turn leads to a greater risk of lapsing. The total effect of distant membership also produces congregations no longer existing as coterminous with geographic parish areas. The Church has continued to unite and merge these spatially distributed congregations thus severing residual allegiance ties and adding to the losses experienced from other causes. The main conclusion of this research is that the Church has mistakenly attempted to respond to the situation with an institutional 'reaction', whereas the real need for the present is to acknowledge the primacy of the existence of these congregations and to restructure its ministry and resources to support the continuing existence of the congregations. It is argued that a pastoral response is what has been lacking, and in the absence of reliable, large scale studies, planning has proceeded on the false basis that the 'parish' concept was a suitable criteria in every circumstance. In the concluding chapter, several practical recommendations are made in respect of the churches own procedures, these being derived from close acquaintance with the evidence of the data.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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