Study eyes rejection of church

Elizabeth-based seminarian looks for research participants

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Christianity is the predominant religion in Elbert County, with churches scattered across the area welcoming local residents each week. For many believers, church is seen as a safe space for praise and community. However, some who once felt welcome in the church no longer do.
 
Elizabeth-based doctoral researcher Alena Lamirato is working to gain a better understanding as to why people leave the church as well as their current general feelings about the church. She also wants to know whether or not a person’s previous experience led them to feel negatively toward the church. Currently, Lamirato is a student at the United Lutheran Seminary working toward her Doctor of Ministry.
 
For her research project, Lamirato is seeking interview participants. She is looking for anyone who has grown up in a Christian church and has left for any reason with no plan to ever return. For the purpose of this research, “church” is defined as any Christian community of two or more people who gather to engage in Bible study, to pray, or to take part in any other Jesus-based activity. Those who currently attend a house church or regular Bible study do not fit the parameters of the research. Lamirato’s goal is to collect the information of 100 individuals.
 
Study participants will answer four questions, taking up only five minutes of their time. Participants may complete the survey via email, Facebook messenger, phone call or in person.
 
The study is quantitative, meaning that the data will be displayed numerically for analysis. Survey answers will be categorized into different reasons people have left the church. There will be no transcripts of the conversations in the final dissertation and names of survey participants will not be published.
 
In an interview from Dec. 27, Lamirato said she hopes to gather this data for her project, but that the Christian community could also use further understanding as to why people leave the church.
 
“The church as a whole needs a better understanding of why people have left and if there is anything that needs to be done to heal the relationships with those who have left,” said Lamirato. “It’s not to get people back, but an act of reconciliation.”
 
For her research, Lamirato is choosing to focus on her local community and wants to stress the importance of understanding the rural way of life.
 
“I have a love for rural communities and think too often they are ignored by researchers,” said Lamirato. “I’m curious to see if people in rural locations have a different feeling toward the church than urban or suburban people do.”
 
To participate in the study, contact Alena Lamirato at alamirato@uls.edu.
church, research, religion, Elizabeth, Elbert County

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