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Cynthia Woolever & Deborah Bruce

Author of  Beyond the Ordinary: Ten Strengths of U.S. Congregations

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Cynthia Woolever & Deborah Bruce's Bio:

Since 1996, Cynthia Woolever had worked in the Research Services office of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as Associate for Congregational Research, before she joined the Hartford Institute faculty in the fall of 2003.  She was professor of sociology at Midway College in Midway, Kentucky, for eight years, where she also was director of the Center for Christian Church Organizational Research.  Prior to that time, she was an associate professor in the Sociology Department at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma.

In 2001, Cynthia directed the U.S. Congregational Life Survey.  About 300,000 worshipers in more than 2,000 congregations in the United States completed a survey during worship services, while worshipers in Australia, England, and New Zealand completed similar surveys.  Together, the international effort included about 2 million worshipers and 17,000 congregations across three continents.

The survey included Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Buddhist, Unitarian and Protestant denominations.  Its purpose was to develop resources to help congregations better understand themselves, identify their strengths, assess their ministries and relate more effectively with their communities.   

She published A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations, with co-author Deborah Bruce, in 2003.  Cynthia's multi-faith research has focused on three areas: voluntary organizations, sociology of religion and congregational studies.

As a member of the Hartford Seminary faculty, she is looking forward to being part of a faculty team that engages students and the public in important conversations.  “One of the things I admire about the faculty is their consistent and courageous willingness to cross boundaries-whether they be faith groups, nations, gender, race/ethnicity, community, or academic disciplines-that normally keep us from seeing clearly.”

Deborah Bruce is Project Manager for the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, a major effort that involved more than 350,000 worshipers and 2,000 congregations.  She is also Associate Research Manager in the Research Services office of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Bruce received her B.A. in experimental psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara and her master's degree in research psychology from San Diego State University.  Before coming to the Presbyterian Church (USA), she worked in a variety of applied research settings.

Bruce enjoys traveling, sewing, and gardening.  She and her husband, Reginald Bruce, who is associate professor at the University of Louisville in the College of Business and Public Administration, both reside in Louisville, Kentucky.  Deborah was born in Rochester, New York.  Her previous books include A Field Guide to U.S. Congregations.

Bruce is a member of the Religious Research Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the International Society for the Sociology of Religion.

Visit Cynthia's website at