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Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by bb_baptist, Sep 30, 2002.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--At first glance, the 20 million Southern Baptists tallied in a sweeping "Religious Congregations and Membership: 2000" study are 4 million more than the convention's membership records indicate.
The catch is, the study of 149 U.S. denominations counts "adherents" as including youth age 14 and above, as a way of balancing totals both from churches that do not baptize infants as well as churches that do.
According to the data, Southern Baptists, up 5 percent during the 1990s, are among the denominations experiencing growth, whatever measure is used.
Among the denominations showing significant growth in the Glenmary study, and outpacing the 5 percent growth recorded among a reported 41,514 SBC churches, were:
-- Presbyterian Church in America, with 1,441 churches, up 42.4 percent.
-- Christian and Missionary Alliance, with 1,878 churches, up 21.8 percent.
-- Evangelical Free Church, with 1,365 churches, up 57.2 percent.
-- Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination with 11,880 churches, up 18.5 percent.
-- Church of God, another Pentecostal denomination, based in Cleveland, Tenn., with 5,612 churches, up 40.2 percent.
-- conservative Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, numbering 5,471 churches, up 18.6 percent.
An exception to the conservative trend was the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod. Its membership fell 3.2 percent during the 1990s, to 2.5 million in 6,077 churches.
Among the denominations continuing in decline during the 1990s:
-- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with 11,106 churches, down 11.6 percent.
-- United Methodist Church, with 35,721 churches, down 6.7 percent.
-- Episcopal Church, with 7,314 churches, down 5.3 percent.
-- United Churches of Christ, with 5,863 churches, down 14.8 percent.
American Baptist Churches USA, another prominent national body, also declined, by 5.7 percent.
The once-a-decade study, begun 50 years ago, garnered media attention across the country -- and atop the findings, as noted by The New York Times, is that, "Socially conservative churches that demand high commitment from their members grew faster than other religious denominations in the last decade..."
And denominations described in the media as "mainline Protestant" or "liberal" -- such as the United Presbyterians, United Methodists and Episcopalians -- were continuing their decades-long erosion in membership.
"I was astounded to see that by and large the growing churches are those that we ordinarily call conservative," Ken Sanchagrin, a professor and chairman of the department of sociology at Baptist-affiliated Mars Hill (N.C.) College and director of the Catholic-affiliated Glenmary Research Center which published the study, told The Times.
"And when I looked at those that were declining," Sanchagrin continued, "most were moderate or liberal churches. And the more liberal the denomination, by most people's definition, the more they were losing."
Looks like we need to move west.
But it looks good to me. Thats a whole lot of Baptist.
Very interesting. I am printing the maps to show my SS Class to prompt discussion on witnessing.