From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCC's 2010 Yearbook chronicles church trends
"Philip Jenks" <email@example.com>
Fri, 12 Feb 2010 14:27:04 -0500
Catholics, Mormons, Assemblies of God growing;
Mainline churches report a continuing decline
New York, February 12, 2010 -- The National Council of Churches' 2010 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches reports membership gains in the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Assemblies of God, among others.
The 78th annual edition of the Yearbook also reports a continuing decline in membership of virtually all mainline denominations. And the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second largest denomination and long a reliable generator of church growth, reported a decline in membership for the second year in a row, down 0.24 percent to 16,266,920.
The Catholic Church, the nation's largest at more than 68 million members, also reported a slight membership loss in 2009 but rebounded this year with a robust growth of 1.49 percent.
The Latter-day Saints grew 1.71 percent to 5,873,408 members and the Assemblies of God grew 1.27 percent to 2,863,265 members, according to figures reported in the 2010 Yearbook.
Other churches that continued to post membership gains in 2010 are Jehovah's Witnesses, up 2 percent to 1,092,169 members, and Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), up 1.76 percent to 1,053,642 members.
Churches reporting the highest membership losses are the Presbyterian Church (USA), down 3.28 percent to 2,941,412; American Baptist Churches in the USA, down 2 percent to 1,358,351; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, down 1.92 percent to 4,709,956 members.
Membership figures reported in the 2010 Yearbook were collected by the churches in 2008 and reported to the Yearbook in 2009.
However, eleven of the 25 largest churches did not report updated figures: the Church of God in Christ; the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; the African Methodist Episcopal Church; the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Churches of Christ; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.; Baptist Bible Fellowship International; and Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, editor of the annual Yearbook since 1998, noted that many observers have attributed accelerated membership decline of some churches to "an increasing secularization of American postmodern society, and its disproportionate impact on liberal religious groups."
But Lindner advised caution in assessing the causes of decline. "American society as a whole has not experienced the kind and rate of secularization so clearly demonstrated during the last quarter century in Western Europe. Indeed, American church membership trends have defied gravity particularly where the Pentecostal experience is included."
In addition, the largest plurality of immigrants to the U.S. in the last 50 years have been Christian in their religious affiliation, Lindner notes.
"In an era in which we have come to expect the inevitable advance of secularism in the U.S., the influx of robust Christian communities among new immigrants once again amends the topographical map."
More study is needed to determine the potential changes in the American landscape "occasioned by the in-migration of new immigrant churches over the last forty years," Lindner writes. But the impacts of the new immigration on the faith community have been profound. (See www.ncccusa.org/news/100205.yearbookimmigrant.html.)
Church financial trends are also reported in the Yearbook. The financial reporting in the 2010 Yearbook is based on the financial income reports of the 64 churches reporting. The almost 45 million members of these churches contributed almost $36 billion, showing a decrease in the total income to the churches of $26 million.
The 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches reports on 227 national church bodies. Statistics in the yearbook reflect "continued high overall church participation, and account for the religious affiliation of over 163 million Americans," the editor reports.
The Yearbook also includes a directory of 234 U.S. local and regional ecumenical bodies with program and contact information and provides listings of theological seminaries and bible schools, religious periodicals and guides to religious research including church archive listings.
Information in the Yearbook is kept up to date in two regular electronic updates each year. Access to this Internet data is provided through a unique passcode printed inside the back cover.
Total church membership reported in the 2010 Yearbook is 147,384,631 members, up 0.49 percent over 2009.
The top 25 churches reported in the 2010 Yearbook are in order of size:
1. The Catholic Church, 68,115,001 members, up 1.49 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention, 16,228,438 members, down 0.24 percent.
3. The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987 members, down 0.98 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041 members, up 1.71 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no membership updates reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc, 5,000,000 members, no membership updates reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,633,887 members, down 1.62 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
9. Assemblies of God (ranked 10 last year), 2,899,702 members, up 1.27 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 1(ranked 9 last year), 2,844,952 members, down 3.28 percent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
11. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
11. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
14. The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,337,349 members, down 1.92 percent.
15. The Episcopal Church, 2,057,292 members, down 2.81 percent.
16. Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no membership updates reported.
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
17. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, members, no membership updates reported.
20. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1,331,127 members, down 2.00 percent.
21. Baptist Bible Fellowship International (ranked 22 last year), 1,200,000 members, no membership updates reported.
22. Jehovah's Witnesses (ranked 23 last year) 1,114,009 members, up 2.00 percent.
23. United Church of Christ (ranked 22 last year), 1,111,691 members, down 2.93 percent.
24. Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), (ranked 25 last year), 1,072,169 members, up 1.76 percent.
25. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (ranked 24 last year), 1,071,616 members, no membership updates reported.
For more information or to order a copy of the Yearbook, see www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/2010yearbookorder.pdf
NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , firstname.lastname@example.org
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