Despite overall membership decline, some good news

September 29, 2010


Even casual observers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are likely aware that the membership of the denomination has decreased steadily for quite some time. However, not all of the news about the PC(USA) is bad news.  Consider these findings from the recently released Comparative Statistics 2009. 

  • There were 20 new church developments in 2009.
  • Membership increased in 13 presbyteries (North Puget Sound, Northwest, San Juan, Twin Cities Area, Midwest Hanmi, St. Andrew, Atlantic Korean-American, Boston, Eastern Korean, Eastern Oregon, Kendall, Sacramento, and Hanmi).
  • The numbers of racial ethnic candidates for ministry increased.
  • Investment income increased.
  • Asian membership increased.
  • There was an increase in Asian leadership (elders, deacons, and active clergy).
  • The number of congregations without pastoral leadership decreased.
  • There was an increase in the number of female ministers and the number of congregations with a female head of staff, solo pastor, or co-pastor.

Comparative Statistics 2009, released recently, is an annual publication of the Research Services office that tracks trends for the denomination in the areas of membership, ministers, and financial data for congregations.  The resource summarizes this information for the denomination and often by synod and presbytery.

This year’s edition features an introductory easy, “Membership Change in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A):  Trends in Gains and Losses,” by Jack Marcum, coordinator of Research Services of the General Assembly Mission Council.  Referring to the overall membership loss for 2009, Marcum points out that many Presbyterians were working last year to increase gains or to reduce losses in membership.  He notes that “one more gain or one fewer loss for every 34 members would have completely eliminated the net loss in 2009.”  That certainly should give Presbyterians something to think about.

Comparative Statistics 2009 can be accessed online or ordered from Presbyterian Distribution Services by calling (800) 524-2612 and requesting PDS #02056-09033.

  1. I put this on Michael Kruse's blog-and since I am too lazy to rewrite I will post it here now. I found one of those numbers rather strange. I was wondering how Sacramento increased after five churches left our presbytery. And then I remembered, our Presbytery leadership had not yet erased Fair Oaks and Roseville from off our list because of the trials that were still pending in 2009. Those were the two biggest churches in our Presbytery, one with several thousand members. I am glad for any good news but at least for Sacramento those numbers are wrong.

    by Viola Larson

    September 29, 2010

  2. Investment income increased in no small part due to the rise in Caterpillar stock, the company PCUSA chose to denounce; we owe them a thank you instead.

    by Jeffrey Magrane

    September 29, 2010