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[PCUSANEWS] PC(USA) membership continues to decline
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ECUNET.ORG>
Tue, 8 Jun 2004 15:13:58 -0500
Note #8268 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
June 8, 2004
PC(USA) membership continues to decline
2003 drop was largest since 1983 reunion
by Jerry L. Van Marter
LOUISVILLE - Last year the Presbyterian Church (USA) experienced its largest
percentage membership decline since Presbyterian reunion in 1983.
According to statistics released by the Office of the General
Assembly, communicant membership at the end of 2003 totaled 2,405,311 - a
decline of 46,658 from 2002. The combined membership of the former United
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America and the former
Presbyterian Church in the United States at the time of reunion was 4.2
General Assembly Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, in an op-ed in The
Presbyterian Outlook, said the ongoing membership decline "should call us to
prayer and repentance" and said he's "convinced God wants us to be a growing
Those Presbyterians reside in 11,604 congregations, 33 fewer than in
2002. Thirty-one new churches were formally organized in 2003 (nine fewer
than in 2002) and 47 congregations were dissolved, 11 fewer than last year.
Four churches were received from other denominations and three were dismissed
to other denominations.
Total contributions and income from these churches totaled $2.9
million in 2003, an increase of 2.5 percent over 2002. Two-thirds of those
funds was spent on local program, 15 percent on capital expenditures,
At the end of 2003, there were 21,248 ordained Presbyterian
ministers, including 346 who were ordained in 2003. Three-hundred fifteen
ministers died in 2003, 66 were removed from office, and 21 were dismissed to
other denominations. Six ministers were restored to office and 104 were
received into the PC(USA) from other denominations.
There were 101,324 ordained elders at year's end and 68,132 deacons.
Following a pattern of recent years, the PC(USA) gained more new
members through profession of faith and transfer of membership than it lost
through transfer to other denominations and death. That net gain was more
However, "other losses" - people who simply left the church -
amounted to a whopping 112,624.
"Statistically, we are not losing people to other churches,"
Kirkpatrick wrote in the Outlook. "Our problem is that we are losing our
people to the secular world - to no active church affiliation. All of us -
pastors, elders and deacons - need to give special attention to nurturing our
members, supporting them in meaningful ministry, and reaching out to them
when they begin to fall away from active membership."
Kirkpatrick, noting that 32 percent of PC(USA) congregations reported
membership gains last year, urged Presbyterians to learn what makes churches
grow and emulate them; to redouble the church's efforts to become a
multicultural church; and called upon presbyteries to commit to starting more
new churches and upon all Presbyterians to support the Mission Initiative:
Joining Hearts and Hands, a five-year, $40 million campaign to raise funds
for overseas missionaries and new churches, particularly racial ethnic and
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