Three mainline Protestant denominations — the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Church of the Brethren — have experienced steady decreases in U.S. membership rolls, continuing long-term trends, according to separate June reports.
A “state of the church” report issued by the UMC said its U.S. membership fell to 7.9 million — a loss of nearly 6 percent — from 1995 to 2005. In Africa and Asia, however, Methodist numbers are growing, with 200 percent increases on each continent during that decade.
UMC membership dropped about 1.4 percent in 2006, according to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
Active membership in the Presbyterian Church (USA) fell by more than 46,000, to 2.27 million in 2006, according to the church’s Office of the General Assembly. Almost 1,000 fewer adults, and 230 fewer children, were baptized by the church last year, the church said.
Several large congregations have left the PC(USA) this year, choosing to affiliate with the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church instead.
The Church of the Brethren reported a 1.4 percent decrease in membership last year, to about 128,000. Membership fell by a similar percentage in 2005, the church said.
By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service