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Erin Johnston

Research Associate, Senior
Sociology

Selected Publications


Pastoring in a Pandemic: Sources and Types of Social Support Used by United Methodist Clergy in the Early Period of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Journal Article Journal of Psychology and Theology · December 1, 2023 COVID-19 and its associated restrictions around in-person gatherings fundamentally unsettled routine ways of doing ministry. In this article, we draw on 50 in-depth interviews conducted with United Methodist clergy in the early period of the COVID-19 pande ... Full text Cite

“There’s theology and then there’s the people I love. . .”: Authority and Ambivalence in Seminarians’ Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Relationships, Marriage, and Ordination

Journal Article Sociology of Religion · September 26, 2023 AbstractDrawing from 102 in-depth interviews conducted with first-year Master of Divinity (M.Div.) students at a Mainline Protestant seminary, this paper examines how students describe and account for their ... Full text Cite

Expanding the Horizontal Call: A Typology of Social Influence on the Call to Ministry

Journal Article Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion · March 1, 2023 This research examines the social actors and interactions that facilitate seminary students' sense of calling. Drawing from 36 in-depth interviews with first year Masters of Divinity students, we introduce six ideal typical social others who play a formati ... Full text Cite

Introducing the Seminary to Early Ministry Study

Journal Article Religious Education · January 1, 2023 The Seminary to Early Ministry (SEM) Study is a mixed-method, prospective study designed to provide high-quality empirical data on student formation in theological education. The study will use a series of surveys and in-depth interviews to track three coh ... Full text Cite

Seminary Students and Physical Health: Beliefs, Behaviors, and Barriers.

Journal Article J Relig Health · April 2022 As an occupational group, clergy exhibit numerous physical health problems. Given the physical health problems faced by clergy, understanding where physical health falls within the priorities of seminary students, the ways students conceptualize physical h ... Full text Link to item Cite

Pastoral Ministry in Unsettled Times: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Clergy During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Journal Article Review of religious research · January 2022 BackgroundCOVID-19 and its associated restrictions around in-person gatherings have created unprecedented challenges for religious congregations and those who lead them. While several surveys have attempted to describe how pastors and congregation ... Full text Open Access Cite

The Financial Impacts of COVID-19 on United Methodist Churches in North Carolina: a Qualitative Study of Pastors' Perspectives and Strategies.

Journal Article Review of religious research · January 2022 BackgroundIn the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, churches in the United States were forced to stop meeting in person and move to remote forms of worship and congregational life. This shift likely impacted congregational finances, which are primaril ... Full text Cite

The Feeling of Enlightenment: Managing Emotions through Yoga and Prayer

Journal Article Symbolic Interaction · August 1, 2021 This paper explores how two spiritual communities—a Catholic prayer house and an Integral Yoga studio—shape the emotional lives of their members. I find that both organizations promise to facilitate what I call holistic emotional change: modifications of d ... Full text Cite

The Enlightened Self: Identity and Aspiration in Two Communities of Practice

Journal Article Religions · July 15, 2016 Existing research on religious identity, especially from a narrative perspective, has tended to focus either on accounts of the past (especially occasions of religious change) or on conceptions of religious identity in the present. Religious commun ... Full text Cite

“I Was Always This Way…”: Rhetorics of Continuity in Narratives of Conversion

Journal Article Sociological Forum · September 2013 This article is concerned with identifying, comparing, and accounting for the principal rhetorical conventions within Pagan practitioners’ narratives of conversion. Applying key insights from studies on narrative identity and drawing on 15 months o ... Full text Cite