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American and Canadian Churches
reports on record number of national church bodies
New York, March 5, 2007 – The National Council of Churches' Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches issued its 75th edition this month.
Widely considered the nation's oldest and most reliable source of church membership and growth trends, the 2007 edition reports on a record number of 224 national church bodies. The reports include brief histories, leadership and headquarters information, and ranks the 25 largest churches by membership.
The 439-page paperback Yearbook is also accessible on the Internet using a pass code printed on the inside back cover. The information in the yearbook will be updated online twice during the year. In addition, a compact disc exists of data dating from 1916 through 2000.
"We at the Yearbook are pleased to take our place in this important task of annually capturing a snapshot of American religious life," says the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, editor of the yearbook since 1998. Lindner is also Deputy General Secretary of the NCC for Research and Planning.
The statistics in the 2007 Yearbook, collected by the churches in 2005 and reported in 2006, "reflect the continued overall vitality of church participation, and account for the religious affiliation of almost 166 million Americans," Lindner said.
Only three mainline Protestant churches are among the ten largest churches. The United Methodist Church, ranked 3, reports a membership of 8,075,010; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ranked 7 with a membership of 4,850,776), and the Presbyterian Church, USA (ranked 9 with a membership of 3,098,842). All three churches declined in membership since the 2006 Yearbook was released.
Pentecostal churches have experienced "remarkable" growth, says Editor Lindner. For example, the Assemblies of God reported a membership of 50,386 in the 1925 edition of the Yearbook. This year, its reported membership is 2,830,861.
The growth in Pentecostal churches since the Azusa Street revival in 1906 in Los Angeles is the topic of a Yearbook essay, "The Place of Azusa Street in Pentecostal Origins," by Dr. Darrin Rodgers, Director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine.
"Azusa Street ... may have been the focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement," Rodgers writes in his carefully balanced essay. "However, recent scholarship has established the need to better understand the broader context before making such judgments."
The 2007 Yearbook reports the largest 25 denominations/communions in the U.S. (noting an increase or decrease in membership since the 2006 Yearbook reports).
1. The Catholic Church, 69,135,254 members, reporting an increase of 1.94 percent.
2. The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,270,315 members, reporting an increase of .02 percent.
3. The United Methodist Church, 8,075,010 members, reporting a decrease of 1.36 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,690,672 members, reporting an increase of 1.63 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no increase or decrease reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., 5,000,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,850,776, reporting a decrease of 1.62 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3,500,000, no increase or decrease reported.
9. Presbyterian Church (USA), 3,098,842 members, reporting a decrease of 2.84 percent.
10. Assemblies of God, 2,830,861 members, reporting an increase of 1.86 percent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
13. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
14. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,440,864, reporting a decrease or .93 percent.
15. Episcopal Church, 2,247,819, reporting a decrease of 1.59 percent.
16. Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, reporting an increase of 9.30 percent (This increase reports the church's growth since its last reported figures in 1999.)
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,440,405 members, reporting an increase of .53 percent.
20. American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,396,700, reporting a decrease of 1.97 percent.
21. United Church of Christ, 1,224,297, reporting a decrease of 3.28 percent.
22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no increase or decrease reported.
23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,615 members, no increase or decrease reported.
24. The Orthodox Church in America, 1,064,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
25. Jehovah's Witnesses, 1,046,006 members, reporting an increase of 1.56 percent.
The total members reported in the largest 25 communions is 149,222,807, an overall increase of .82 percent.
The 2007 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches costs $50 and may be ordered at www.electronicchurch.org
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