[USNews.com] June 7, 2005--"When people talk about Protestantism, it's about evangelicalism and Pentecostalism," says Diana Butler Bass, a senior researcher at the Virginia Theological Seminary. "Most people think mainline Protestant churches are dead." Director of the Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, a three-year study of 50 churches across the country that's scheduled to end in 2006, Bass set out to find whether the stereotype is true—or whether, as she puts it, there's "a new kind of mainline congregation developing in the United States that's moderate to liberal theologically, taking traditional Christian practices seriously, and is experiencing an unnoticed vitality."
Similar claims we made at the 2003 General Convention on the basis of the early findings of this study. However, the findings were largely antecdotal and reflected the researchers preference for the model which Bass describes as "a new kind of mainline congregation," one committed to the Episcopal Church's new gospel of radical inclusivism. From a research standpoint 50 churches is a very small number of churches for the researchers to base the sweeping conclusions as they make. Questions have also been raised concerning the methodology used in this study