Total membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the end of 2013 was 1,760,200, according to statistics released today by the Office of the General Assembly. That’s compared to 1,849,496 at the end of 2012.
“Yes, the numbers reflect a decrease in active members in the denomination,” said the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. “But the numbers also illustrate fewer losses than the previous year. The membership declined by 89,296 in 2013, compared to 102,791 in 2012.
“We are meeting the challenges we have had and it’s showing,” he said. “And, our decline in total congregations is holding fairly steady.”
The total number of churches in 2013 was 10,038, compared to 10,262 in 2012. That’s a loss of 224 churches, including 148 congregations dismissed to other denominations and 74 dissolved. The PC(USA) lost 204 churches between 2012 and 2011.
Parsons said it is important to note that the total number of congregations does not include new church developments, new immigrant fellowships, or other worshipping communities within the denomination. More than 200 new worshipping communities have been identified as part of the PC(USA)’s movement to start 1001 new worshipping communities in 10 years, according to the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Worth noting also is the fact that the number of churches organized in 2013 – 24 – was the highest in four years, and that local mission spending increased by $1.85 million over 2012. Non-local mission spending increased as well by $5.6 million.
“What we are seeing in many of our congregations, old and new, is a commitment to more fully engage in their communities,” Parsons said. “That means the number of lives our 10,038 congregations are touching in any given week far supersedes what the membership figures reflect.”
That is certainly the case at Cornerstone Church of Silicon Valley, located in Los Altos, Calif. The church, which existed as a new church development for a number of years, fully chartered as a PC(USA) congregation in 2013. The roughly 80-member congregation will celebrate with an installation service on June 8.
“The church is reaching out and bringing more people in,” said the Reverend Joseph Sohn, pastor at Cornerstone Church of Silicon Valley. “It’s focused on outreach.”
Already members of the church provide meals for the homeless, and beginning in the fall they will dedicate one Saturday a month to community service projects. “We want to make a more conscious effort to serve,” Sohn said.
Copies of the 2013 Minutes of the General Assembly, Part II-B, Statistics will be available through Presbyterian Distribution Services (PDS) in early August. Orders can be placed by calling (800) 524-2612. Please specify PDS Order OGA-13-061 (Softcover, $15.00) or PDS Order OGA-13-060 (Hardcover, $22.50).