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There has been nothing normal about church membership and attendance over the past two years. In-person worship took a major hit in all Christian denominations as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on. Many denominations have reported thousands of members leaving the church altogether. But even as membership continues to show a decline in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the numbers were not as high as in 2020.

The Office of the General Assembly has released its annual statistics report showing a continued steady decline in membership in the PC(USA). Current active membership stands at just over 1.1 million, a 51,000-member drop from 2020. Total number of churches last year stood at 8,813, approximately 112 less than the year before.

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total Churches 9,451 9,304 9,161 9,041 8,925 8,813
Active Members 1,482,767 1,415,053 1,352,678 1,302,043 1,245,354 1,193,770

The PC(USA) saw a sharp drop in recorded professions of faith and reaffirmation in 2019 when COVID-19 took hold. However, last year’s records show a slight increase.

“We have come to the realization that our church has been forever changed by this pandemic,” said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA). “But this report shows that even though the number of active members continues to go down, we are seeing a slight slowdown in number of people leaving.”

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Youth Professions of Faith 11,243 10,716 9,578 9,023 5,319 5,708
Professions of Faith & Reaffirmations 20,623 19,599 22,005 21,408 9,210 10,921

“The challenge for the PC(USA) and other Christian denominations is reaching and retaining young people, developing new leaders for tomorrow’s church,” said Nelson. “I am encouraged to see this turning around and it will be imperative that we find new ways of being church in the years to come.”

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
New Worshiping Communities 114 144 158 176 206 241
New Church Development/Fellowships 128 122 116 110 112 107

“I continue to be encouraged by what we’re seeing with new worshiping communities. In five years, we have more than doubled our number,” said Nelson. “Great challenges lie ahead for the PC(USA), but I believe God is working amongst us, forming and encouraging us to continue to be creative and innovative in all we do.”

Approximately 82% of the churches submitted data representing 91% of PC(USA) membership. The median presbytery has a membership of 5,526 people and the average presbytery consists of 111 ministers, 53 churches and four candidates.