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Oldline Protestant denominations make for a competitive peer group, but the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is on track to claim the top spot for fastest declining major U.S.-based church last year.
Total membership declined from 411,140 in 2017 to 382,248 (-7%) while average worship attendance declined from 139,936 to 124,437 (-11%) according to numbers reported for 2018. Baptisms dropped from 4,344 to 3,782 (-13%) while the number of other additions (including transfers in) declined from 7,441 to 6,969 (-6.4%).
Rate - Denomination - Percent - Decade - Rate
At the current rate, the denomination will shrink by another 50 percent within a decade. This annual rate of decline exceeds that of the Presbyterian Church (USA) which reported a nearly 5 percent membership drop for the year 2018 and held the distinction of “fastest declining” for much of the decade.
The dramatic decline doesn’t appear to be registering among top denominational officials.
Future - Church - Rev - Teresa - Terri
“I am genuinely hopeful for the future of this Church,” wrote the Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Minister and President in an August 15 reflection following the denomination’s biannual General Assembly. “I saw signs of life and growth everywhere, of Disciples who are learning to abide whether that means waiting with expectation or tarrying a while in the Presence.”
Owens described the denomination’s members as “primed for growing into what the Lord has in mind for us – to become a healing, helping force for good in this fragmented world.” Addressing sustained decline that has shed 80 percent of members since the denomination crested in 1964 did not appear to be a concern: “We must continue to abide, to remain, to persist.”
Officials - Justice - Causes - Rally - Iowa
Denominational officials strongly embrace social justice causes. At a post-Assembly rally at the Iowa Capitol, Disciples’ public policy groups joined with ecumenical and interfaith partners on the religious left to proclaim support for government directed poverty alleviation programs. The denomination...
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