News reports about how religious institutions across the United States are faring during the current recession have been an important part of the storyline of this economic downturn. Many people are naturally concerned about the health and vitality of this important sector of American life. The 2009 Congregational Economic Impact Study reflects the desire of the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Alban Institute to shed some light on congregational experiences during the current recession and to learn from the diverse ways communities of faith are dealing with the challenges and opportunities of this economic climate. Lessons learned from congregational responses may facilitate future changes in practice.
In this study, we examine how congregations have been affected by and have responded to the current recession. First, we observe how congregations were impacted financially by the economic downturn. We then examine what congregations have done for their communities and congregants in response to the recession. Finally, we look at which types of congregations have fared better during these difficult times.