Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Are New Englanders Like?

In 1997 Vision New England and the Ockenga Institute at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary conducted a research project to identify composite traits of New England culture. As they noted in Church Network News' published report, each of these traits can be true of other parts of the nation (and world), so the real key for missional ministry in New England is exegeting why's and how's. And as anyone in or familiar with New England can tell you, there is not really one New England "culture" but really different cultures, plural. Nevertheless, there are traits generally true about all New England, and together, these 8 traits give a good outline.

1. New Englanders Tend to Resist Change

2. New Englanders Tend to Value Tradition

3. New Englanders Tend to be Roman Catholic
-- I would add that this largely means that when New Englanders note a religious affiliation of any kind, Roman Catholicism dominates. In my neck of the woods, the irreligious vastly outnumber the religious of any kind, but for those who specify a religion on surveys, Roman Catholicism is most noted. I'd also add that, in my neck of the woods at least, more self-identified Protestants are active with church attendance than self-identified Catholics. So this trait can be misleading if misread.

4. New Englanders Tend to Have a Secular Mindset

5. New Englanders Tend to be Self-Reliant

6. New Englanders Tend to be Reserved
-- This is the biggest difference I have experienced between Vermont and the South.

7. New Englanders Tend to Favor Insiders

8. New Englanders Tend to Operate Locally

The juxtaposition of traits 2 and 4 makes for some really interesting dynamics in the small rural town where I pastor, for instance.

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