From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] PC(USA) 9th-largest U.S. church, NCC yearbook says

Date Tue, 16 Mar 2004 07:39:46 -0600

Note #8168 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

March 16, 2004

PC(USA) 9th-largest U.S. church, NCC yearbook says

Top 3: Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Methodist

by Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the ninth-largest church in
North America, according to the newest edition of the Yearbook of American
and Canadian Churches, a publication of the National Council of Churches

	The three largest U.S. churches are the Roman Catholic Church (66.4
million members), the Southern Baptist Convention (16.2 million) and the
United Methodist Church (8.3 million).

	The yearbook estimates membership in the PC(USA) at 3.4 million,
including baptized children. The PC(USA) claims a membership of 2.4 million.

	Four of the top 25 denominations now are Pentecostal. The yearbook's
editor, the Rev. Eileen Lindner, the NCC's deputy general secretary for
research and planning, says that "reflects the continuing increase in numbers
of adherents to Pentecostal traditions."

	The four top Pentecostal denominations are the Church of God in
Christ, ranked fourth with 5.5 million members; the Assemblies of God, ranked
10th with 2.7 million; the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, tied for 16th
at 1.5 million; and the Church of God, newly ranked at 25th with 945,000

	Seven of the largest 25 denominations are predominantly
African-American churches, reflecting the historic strength of the church in
the African American community.

	In most cases, the 2004 yearbook reflects membership totals recorded
at the end of 2002. It includes data on 215 religious bodies with a total
membership of 161 million.

	The major U.S. churches that recorded growth between 2001 and 2002
included the Catholic Church (No. 1), the Southern Baptist Convention (2),
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (5), the Assemblies of God
(10), the American Baptist Churches in the USA (19), the Jehovah's Witnesses
(24) and the Church of God, new on the list at No. 25.

	Six of the top 25 churches reported membership losses - the PC(USA),
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the
Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), the African Methodist Episcopal Zion
Church, and the United Church of Christ.

	The fastest-growing Protestant church was the American Baptist
Church, whose membership increased by 2.87 percent. The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) reported growth of 1.88 percent.

	Other highlights of the 2004 yearbook:

	*Despite a well-documented clergy shortage, especially in the
Catholic Church and in small and/or rural parishes of virtually all
denominations, the number of students enrolled in theological institutions
continues to grow. More than 75,000 students are enrolled in member schools
of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

	*The nearly 30-year upward trend in numbers of women in theological
schools remains stable and appears to be a permanent feature of the
demography of theological students.

	*The 59 U.S. churches that provided full financial data for the 2004
edition account for more than $31 billion in contributions from nearly 48
million people.

	*In those 59 churches, per-capita giving increased, on average, by
$35 (5.6 percent) from the previous year - to $658.63.

	*Giving to causes beyond the congregation totaled 14 percent for U.S.
churches, continuing a downward trend of several years. By contrast, the
percentage of benevolence giving by members of Canadian churches is
consistently 19 to 20 percent.

	The largest 25 U.S. denominations/communions and their memberships,
according to the counting formula used by the NCC:

1.	The Roman Catholic Church - 66,407,105
2.	Southern Baptist Convention - 16,247,736
3.	The United Methodist Church - 8,251,042
4.	The Church of God in Christ - 5,499,875
5.	The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
	Saints - 5,410,544
6.	Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -
7.	National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.,
	Inc. - 5,000,000
8.	National Baptist Convention of America,
	Inc. - 3,500,000
9.	Presbyterian Church (USA) - 3,407,329
10.	Assemblies of God - 2,687,366
11.	The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod -
12.	African Methodist Episcopal Church -
13.	National Missionary Baptist Convention of
	America - 2,500,000
14.	Progressive National Baptist Convention,
	Inc. - 2,500,000
15.	The Episcopal Church - 2,333,628
16.	Churches of Christ, Corsicana, TX -	   1,500,000
17.	Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America -
18.	Pentecostal Assemblies of the World,
	Inc. - 1,500,000
19.	American Baptist Churches in the USA -
20.	African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church -
21.	United Church of Christ - 1,330,985
22.	Baptist Bible Fellowship International -
23.	Christian Churches and Churches
	of Christ, Joplin, MO - 1,071,616
24.	Jehovah's Witnesses - 1,022,397
25.	Church of God, Cleveland, TN - 944,857

Information for this story furnished by Carol Fouke of the NCC's News and
Information Office.

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