Tuesday, January 30, 2024

VIDEO: Latino, Black & Multiracial Dynamics

In this webinar hosted by Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations, learn about the distinctive patterns and dynamics of Black, Latino, and Multiracial churches.

This webinar is part of an ongoing webinar series. Each week the institute will offer a lunchtime webinar and Q&A period to explore the latest church research and insights for beginning the ministry year full of optimism and direction. Thursdays 12:15-1:30 p.m. EST.

Register for our webinar series here.

Below is an edited Q&A transcript from the webinar:

Do you have any suggestions on how I could encourage my congregation to host a pop-up clinic?

Allison Norton, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: This might go beyond a little bit of the scope of our data. And as social scientists sometimes, we’re very hesitant to answer questions that we can’t directly link to our data. But that’s a great question. And I think there is a lot to learn, as Dr. Watts was saying, particularly the work of majority black congregations and their collaborations with public health officials. I’m looking back and thinking about our broader data set. Some of our regional case studies. We’ve been doing fieldwork at 81 different congregations across the nation. Out of that data set. I can think of a particular number of majority black congregations who are very proactive like you’re asking Eric right and engaging. They invited health officials to come and speak public health officials to come and speak in their congregations, and we’re very active in trying to find institutions in their community to provide these kinds of services. 

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology: I would just say, looking at the data for the majority Latino congregations, I share that ecumenical and interfaith engagement and community service activities are very prevalent there. So I would say, I mean, perhaps connecting with what other congregations in the area have done or are doing and partnering together to do, some of those kinds of health-related ministries might be a helpful suggestion. Because of the nature of wanting to work with other congregations is strong for populations. 

Could you say more about the decrease in community involvement with majority black, multiracial congregations? What does that mean? And what do you think might be some of the causes of that decrease?

Brittany Watts, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: So first, when we look at the timing and the peak of the pandemic, there was this call, right, this call for our Christian stewardship to meet the needs of people’s right to feed those who don’t have food, to be able to give people access to medicine, that they may not have access to shelter people from harm, whether that’s in sickness or etc. Right? And so this call to Christian stewardship, and from the church. You see that at the peak of the pandemic. So I think there’s part of that, and also the time, right? The political tensions, things like the murder of George Floyd. You know all the violence and deaths.  People are feeling, making people feel called to do more. And then I also think that so that has an impact right on you wanting to be involved where they think of innovative way, innovative ways of activities, or programming to connect and to make sure people feel heard and be able to participate right? But then there’s this, the flip side of it where I don’t want to say the call is diminished. That’s a little less right. And some people get tired. And there’s the same kind of faithful few that are typically doing this work as well. If you think about your core groups running these programs, doing the phone calls, checking in on the deep, sick, shut-in, and bringing the community in. there are a lot of layers. So right? And so then, you see this kind of the possible, perhaps this decline right? And being able to keep up with the responsibilities of this call and the manifestations of what this looks like, whether it’s on a macro level. Right? Or if it’s this kind of local level within our smaller church communities, there was a lot that was being called on the Christian community. I think at this time. So we’re seeing this kind of event flow, which is normal, right? Cause we’re humans and we’re going to. We’re getting tired. We’re going to have peaks and we’re going to have lows. But I do think the other piece of this, though, is that there’s there might be also some tension right with, how we enact these calls. Whether that’s intergenerational things happening within the church is denominational de differences. When the age of our black churches, unfortunately, is not like the Latino churches, where they are thriving with children. In some ways, we’re not having the same type of young energy right being afforded in some of these spaces to be able to enact some of that. So I think several things are going on at one time that are influencing this, involvement. 

Can you speak more about the strength and fundraising among Latino congregations? Why might this be so? Are there certain conditions that you could think of that might relate to this strength?

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology:  That’s a great question. I did not have a chance to explore the qualitative aspects of that it’s really what came out from the data in the faith communities today survey. But some conditions. And I might think about what would be. Often. These congregations, of course, have a lower median income overall than other congregations. Folks are not able to contribute as much and sometimes if they’re a newer congregation. So on average, Latino congregations are newer. The Median founding date is 1991, so they don’t necessarily have the capital built to sustain sort of the aspects of congregational programming and staffing costs that a congregation requires. And so fundraising is a necessity more for, perhaps these congregations than in other congregations. And so I imagine that the majority of Latino congregations have gotten creative with how they raise money. What that creativity looks like would be something that I would want to explore more through some qualitative research and analysis of that data.  I suspect that other congregations have not had to rely on fundraising in the same way because of assets and higher income of participants and things like that. So I do believe we can learn a lot from how Latino congregations are doing this, and at the same time acknowledge the structural realities for these congregations that they should likely probably be receiving more money and support and funding from their denominations and other congregations if those congregations can help that makes me think of another question here. From Nata Sellers, they’re asking about what these results say about the new ways. White congregations might build new ways of care and support for majority black congregations and leaders. And I think this could extend to majority Latino congregations as well. 

Brittany Watts, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: The first thing that came to mind was to collaborate and work with them. Work with the churches, work together on a project, find the need, find a gap in whatever’s happening in your community, and work together on the project. I think that would be the main thing. Collaboration and partnerships are the only way that anyone is going to be able to make an actual difference because the issues we’re facing are too big for any one institution, or any one person. And so I think, because of the way BIPOC communities are being hit to support you. Collaborate. 

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology:   I would say the same thing and echo Dr. Watson’s comment. Collaboration is key, and critical, especially as, we see congregational decline happening in the broader landscape of religious life. And so, more and more. I think collaboration will be a necessity. 

Allison Norton, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: This might go beyond a little bit of the scope of our data. And as social scientists sometimes, we’re very hesitant to answer questions that we can’t directly link to our data. But that’s a great question. And I think there is a lot to learn, as Dr. Watts was saying, particularly the work of majority black congregations and their collaborations with public health officials. I’m looking back and thinking about our broader data set. Some of our regional case studies. We’ve been doing fieldwork at 81 different congregations across the nation. Out of that data set. I can think of a particular number of majority black congregations who are very proactive like you’re asking Eric right and engaging. They invited health officials to come and speak public health officials to come and speak in their congregations, and we’re very active in trying to find institutions in their community to provide these kinds of services. 

Can you speak more on the connection between Latino, Black, BIPOC congregations in the public square and community gatherings?

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology:  So the data is just key informant, usually the senior leader of the congregation, you know, filling out categories. While ecumenical service and worship children’s programming and children’s activities are more prevalent. And they do that more in majority Latino congregations. I’m not sure about the nature of that and what that looks like. We don’t have that qualitative data, qualitative data to back that up. But I can say, from some of our regional case studies that some of that work is happening. And I think you know, Brittany shared that is happening and happened with COVID-19 and that sort of partnership and advocacy work that happened around community organizing. 

Is there perhaps a high rate of church growth in Latino congregations related to strong involvement and community service? How might these factors impact one another?

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology: It’s a good question. I haven’t done the statistical analysis to figure out whether that’s true or not. And whether there’s an impact or correlation with those factors. For me, I attribute the large amount of church growth in Latino congregations. It’s it’s about demographics. So Latinos are growing at a fast rate in the United States. They trend younger in the United States, according to the census, and there are more children. There are higher percentages of children than there are older adults. I think that’s true of white congregations as well. Right? The population decline in many ways mirrors. I would say that that would be the biggest factor around the growth and decline in these congregations in the United States. I may be challenged or wrong about that, and there may be exceptions to that role, but that’s sort of where I come down to all of that. 

Any thoughts on how church affiliation or attendance by race might relate to some health-related differences?

Brittany Watts, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: I’m not sure if there’s specific data that speaks to this kind of correlation but I can’t say this anecdotally. I mean, if your pastor is preaching something they are trying to preach to you about something they’re trying to guide you right into a thought to help lead you somewhere. And so if the pastor is preaching to get vaccinated, I think that’s obviously kind of right. It’s going to have that direct connection to and direct result with your conference with them. Hearing that this is possibly right, the route to go to kick. Take care of yourself. But at the same time, one thing, I noticed is that because you have these churches, let’s say you have 99% of pastors, the majority of black congregations participating in these measures. You have to ask yourself, are there any other gaps in services? One thing I think that is quite notable is that the help that the majority of black churches and multi-racial churches did went beyond the walls of their church for their community. And I think that’s something that we can all do. And across the board, right? All not mimic right mimic for our communities and work beyond the walls of the church to help with, especially with a global issue 

I read the other day that 20% of the people in a congregation are providing 80% of the income for the church. What happens if there isn’t that 20%. Is that percentage reflective of what you’re seeing as we talk about the financial resources of the Church? What are we seeing happening in congregations over the past few years?

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology: I would say that it certainly relates. I have heard that statistic before, and I’ve also heard that statistic when it comes to volunteerism and volunteering in the church. Right? 80% of the folks don’t really 20% of the folks do 80% of the work. I don’t know how that bears out in our data set particularly because ‘re not able to look at it that way. But it is certainly the case that after Covid first hit right, finances took a hit. And I imagine that it’s because of some of the particularly in majority Latino congregations around some of the employment precarity that perhaps took place at that time as well for folks. So when that 20% or 30%, or however many people are contributing, and they’re not able to do so. at the same rate. And at this, you know, that is what impacts financial resources for the church. That has a ripple effect on congregations that have to give dues or provide money to their larger denomination, not systems, and all of that. So certainly that’s the case. I’m not sure about that particular 80-20, but in many small congregations. I also look at small congregations. It’s event’s even fewer than 20 that provide the financial resources for most Congregational expenses’. It can go either way. 

Charissa Mikoski, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: I’ll just add that more broadly in the project the data nationally, we’ve seen an increase in the income to churches compared to 2020, I think, in 2023. It’s about a median of 170,000 or yeah, 170,000 which is up even accounting for inflation. And trying to think of what could be contributing to that, whether it’s like a restart of capital campaigns, or it could be bequests which would kind of tie into this, that if somebody’s leaving a gift in their will, or something of that nature. That might be a bump for now, but it’s not going to be around next year. This is your one shot. For that extra income. So I think that’ll be an interesting question to look at in our 2025 survey of how the income and giving patterns, persist, 

What is the chance of gender being incorporated into this research? For example women senior pastors versus male senior pastors.

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Iliff School of Theology: Yeah. So 96% of the majority of Latino congregations in this study were male and I only looked at the senior leaders and the senior pastors, and I forgot to qualify that beforehand. We don’t have the data to look at associate pastors with this research. So it was senior and solo leaders only. The overall from the 2020 fax survey is 90% male. So not that much of a difference. So I would say, overall, it’s vastly majority male, but that doesn’t discount the presence of, and I think that makes it all the more salient and interesting for the presence of women. And also 9 nonbinary pastors. Who are in these congregations as well, and might identify in that way as an aspect and area of further study. Several studies have been done on women and leadership. and leadership. Lgbtq leadership and more studies are going to be coming out I am sure, in future years. 

There has been a large upswing in new attendance in 2023, especially younger congregants, but there’s also been a 70% increase in Latinx attendance. Some of the increases returning from the pandemic, however, a large percentage is due to the current political climate and the Church’s representation at local pride events, has there been any data taken in marginalized communities as it pertains to the political climate?

Brittany Watts, Hartford Institute for Religion Research: There hasn’t been much specific data collected on the Church’s involvement in the different political arenas and so forth. But I can say that if the community sees you doing community work, then you will attract the community. The same with the parishioners. Right? Though your parishioners may not be local, perhaps they can be a part of it, or via the way you share how you are part of that. You’re doing your community service and so forth. But I think when people see you doing the work and are acting on the streets. Then you’re going to attract them. Without a doubt. It makes people feel comfortable. It makes people see that you can be vulnerable right to put yourself in a position where they’re probably in themselves and support them, and so they will. They will do the same and support you. So I think if you’re out there in the streets that’s, the best place to start.