Published on September 30, 2010  

An article featuring Dr. Penny Marler's research on pastor peer groups is published in "Faith and Leadership," an on-line publication of Duke University.

Researchers found that congregations with a pastor who is involved in a peer group are more likely to be active, youthful, and to have increasing attendance -- particularly if the group includes a trained facilitator and/or a curriculum, Marler said.

"There is a strong correlation. It's fascinating. It's surprising," said Penny Long Marler, professor of religion and the grant and research coordinator for the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., which partnered with Austin Presbyterian Seminary on the study.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.