1998 NCC News Archives

1998 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches
NEW: Editor, Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner; Intro by George Gallup, Jr.;
"Electronic Church" Chapter; Updated Directories and Trends Information

    FEBRUARY 27, 1998, NEW YORK ---- What does church life in the United States and Canada look like as the 21st century approaches? The 1998 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches offers a panoramic view with the latest data on church membership and finances, a new chapter on "The Emerging Electronic Church," extensive directories of denominational and ecumenical bodies, and more.

    The Yearbook, an annual project of the National Council of Churches, this year continues its 66-year standing as the most up-to-date, comprehensive source of statistics from North America's churches. While not a complete census, the Yearbook is the most complete available summary of denominational membership. The book's data are used extensively by church leaders, journalists, seminary and public libraries, researchers and scholars.

    The 1998 Yearbook includes:

    The 1998 Yearbook also is available on CD-ROM, packaged with the book, for U.S.$45 (includes shipping). And as a special tool for researchers, membership data from past editions, going back to 1951 is available on CD Rom in Quatro Pro, Microsoft Excel and generic Lotus 1-2-3 formats. Cost is U.S.$65 (includes shipping); contact Friendship Press.

FEATURES OF THE 1998 YEARBOOK

    The 1998 Yearbook includes:

SEMINARIANS GIVE 21ST CENTURY CHURCH LEADERSHIP A NEW LOOK

    According to the 1998 Yearbook, more than one-third (33.93 percent, or 23,308) of all 68,702 theological students in 233 schools the United States and Canada enrolled in fall 1996 were women. The proportion was slightly lower among students in Master of Divinity programs (28.6 percent women among the 27,876 M.Div. candidates). The M.Div. degree is the normative degree to prepare persons for ordained ministry and for general pastoral and religious leadership responsibilities in congregations.

    Women's numbers and proportion have increased steadily since the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada first began counting enrollment by gender in 1972. Then, the 3,358 women theological students constituted 10.2 percent of total enrollment (full- and part-time, both degree and non-degree programs).

    Supplementary data provided by the ATS for this article shows the following picture of white male enrollment in all programs over the past five years:

White Male Enrollment in ATS Member Schools, All Programs

Year # of Sch'ls Total Enrollment #White Males Enrolled % Total Enrollment
1992 220 63,484 32,050 50.49
1993 219 63,429 31,683 49.95
1994 226 65,089 32,037 49.22
1995 224 66,070 30,805 46.62
1996 233 68,702 30,667 44.64

    African American, Hispanic American and Pacific/Asian American theological students also have increased steadily as a percentage of total enrollment (now 9.18, 3.01 and 6.64 percent, respectively). Overall, enrollment of racial/ethnic minority students in ATS schools has grown from a 6.3 percent of total enrollment in 1977 to 19.1 percent of total enrollment in the 1996-97 school year.

    "While progress toward a more representative enrollment of theological students is evident," the 1998 Yearbook notes, "the percentage of racial/ethnic minority students in ATS schools continues to be smaller than the percentage of racial/ethnic persons in the North American population as a whole."

    Theological education's growing professionalism is shown in the growth of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada – the accrediting and program agency for graduate theological education on this continent -- from 205 member schools in 1989 to 233 member schools in 1996.

   Growth in total enrollment from 56,178 to 68,702 over that time period reflects both increased enrollment in the seminaries and the increased number of schools admitted to ATS membership, according to the Yearbook.

"A CLOSER LOOK AT THE (U.S.) NUMBERS"

    Among other telling "snapshots" of U.S. religious life "viewable" in the 1998 Yearbook are these:

    National population growth from 1995 to 1996 was 0.9 percent, to an estimated total resident population of 265,179,000,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. (But note: not all churches reported data for those two years.)

Inclusive membership data (U.S. only) follow for the 20 largest U.S. church bodies, including a comparison between statistics they reported to the 1997 and 1998 Yearbooks.

INCLUSIVE MEMBERSHIPS "TOP 20" U.S. CHURCH BODIES

Denomination 1997 Yearbook 1998 Yearbook % +/-
Roman Catholic Church 60,280,454 (1995) 61,207,914 +1.54
Southern Baptist Convention 15,663,296 (1995) 15,691,964 +0.18
United Methodist Church 8,538,662 (1995) 8,495,378 -0.51
National Baptist Conv. USA, Inc. 8,200,000 (1992) 8,200,000 0.00
Church of God in Christ 5,499,875 (1991) 5,499,875 0.00
Evangelical Luth. Church in America 5,190,489 (1995) 5,180,910 -0.18
Latter-Day Saints/Mormons 4,711,500 (1995) 4,800,000 +1.88
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 3,669,489 (1995) 3,637,375 -0.88
Nat'l Baptist Conv. of America Inc. 3,500,000 (1987) 3,500,000 0.00
African Methodist Episcopal Church 3,500,000 (1991) 3,500,000 0.00
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod 2,594,555 (1995) 2,601,144 +0.25
The Episcopal Church 2,536,550 (1995) *2,536,550 n/a
Nat'l Missionary Bap. Conv. of Amer. 2,500,000 (1992) 2,500,000 0.00
Progressive Nat'l Baptist Conv. Inc. 2,500,000 (1995) 2,500,000 0.00
Assemblies of God 2,387,982 (1995) 2,467,588 +3.33
Churches of Christ 1,655,000 (1995) 2,250,000 +35.95
The Orthodox Church in America 2,000,000 (1995) 2,000,000 0.00
Greek Orthodox Archdi. of America 1,950,000 (1977) 1,950,000 0.00
American Baptist Churches U.S.A. 1,517,400 (1995) 1,503,267 -0.93
Baptist Bible Fellowship International 1,500,000 (1995) 1,500,000 0.00

                    * 1995 Membership Data. All others are 1996.

A CLOSE-UP OF 10 LARGE DENOMINATIONS' GAINS/LOSSES

    The 1998 Yearbook looks at reported membership gains/losses over the past three years in 10 of the United States' largest denominations, observing an ongoing "flattening out" of change over that time period for several of these bodies:

GAINS/LOSSES IN 10 LARGE U.S. DENOMINATIONS
   1996 Yearbook  1997 Yearbook          1998 Yearbook
Denom.   Mem. Change % Mem. Change Mem. Change %
RCC   332,563   0.56   89,849   0.15   927,460   1.54
SBC   215,418   1.40   49,236   0.32   28,668   0.18
UMC   -62,470   -0.72   -45,463   -0.53   -43,284   -0.51
ELCA   -13,737   -0.26   -4,629   -0.12   -9,579   -0.18
LDS   93,000   2.06   98,400   2.39   88,500   1.88
PCUSA   -98,630   -2.60   -32,986   -1.22   -32,114   -0.88
LC-MS   -2,008   -0.08   -1,624   -0.08   6,589   0.25
Assembl.   52,897   2.33   22,983   1.70   79,606   3.33
ABCUSA   -8,571   -0.57   -9,466   -0.63   -14,133   -0.93
UCC   -28,868   -1.89   -29,097   -1.94   -19,648   -1.33

TRENDS OVER THE LONGER RUN

    Following are inclusive membership figures for nine of the 10 denominations from 1940 to the present to enable trend analysis over the longer run:

LONGER-RUN TRENDS IN 10 DENOMINATIONS
Denom.* 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1998 Yrbk
RCC   21,284,455   28,634,878   42,104,900   48,214,729   50,449,842   61,207,914
SBC   4,949,174   7,079,889   9,731,591   11,628,032   13,600,126   15,691,964
UMC   8,043,454   9,653,178   10,641,310   10,509,198   9,519,407   8,495,378
ELCA   3,117,626   3,982,508   5,295,502   5,650,137   5,384,271   5,180,910
LDS   724,401   1,111,314   1,486,887   2,073,146   2,811,000   4,800,000
PCUSA   2,690,969   3,210,635   4,161,880   4,045,408   3,362,086   3,637,375
LC-MS   1,277,097   1,674,901   2,391,195   2,788,536   2.625,650   2,601,144
Assembl.   198,834   318,478   508,602   625,027   1,064,490   2,467,588
UCC   1,708,146   1,977,418   2,241,134   1,960,608   1,736,244   1,452,565

* Figures from denominations that resulted from mergers since 1940 are combined totals from predecessor denominations.

OVERALL CONTRIBUTIONS RISE, BUT "BENEVOLENCES" DECLINE

    Following is a look at changes in total contributions to those U.S. churches that regularly report financial statistics to the Yearbook.

    "Total Contributions" includes money given to local churches both for congregational use and for benevolences, that is, money forwarded by the congregation for national and international mission and denominational support. The church financial statistics reported to the 1998 Yearbook are for 1996, and to the 1997 Yearbook, for 1995. The inflation rate from July 1995 to July 1996, as measured by the change in the Consumer Price Index, was 2.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TOTAL CONTRIBUTION CHANGES IN THE UNITED STATES

Denomination   1997 Yearbook  1998 Yearbook % Change
Southern Baptist Convention   $6,068,383,938   6,878,182,518   +13.3
United Methodist Church   $3,568,540,127   3,744,692,223   +4.9
Evangelical Lutheran Ch in America    $1,739,949,531   1.821,385,813   +4.7
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)   $2,165,662,943   2,252,516,066   +4.0
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod    $963,212,668   997,293,579   +3.5
American Baptist Chs in the U.S.A.    $422,696,846   407,344,795   -3.6
United Church of Christ   $645,849,413   684,740,819   +6.0
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)   $400,783,610   413,087,890   +3.1
Seventh-day Adventist Church    $743,899,705   767,293,895   +3.1
Church of the Nazarene   $490,138,232   514,809,202   +5.0
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod    $186,030,430   202,294,882   +8.7
Reformed Church in America   $194,245,692   190,518,514   -1.9
The Wesleyan Church   $156,150,733   161,610,644   +3.5
Mennonite Church   $98,474,013   104,481,914   +6.1

    The 55 U.S. church bodies reporting financial data to the 1998 Yearbook reported $24,170,133,464 in total contributions. Those bodies have a combined inclusive membership of 50,047,599 resulting in an average contribution of $482.94 per member. When considering only full or confirmed membership (43,321,039), the per capita contribution was $557.93.

    On average, 12.16 percent of total contributions went toward benevolences. In contrast, in 1995, 52 denominations with 46,667,687 members (inclusive) and total contributions of $19,631,560,798 reported that 17.73 percent of the total was allocated to benevolences.

For More Information, See Yearbook Pages on This Website

Contact: NCC News Department

Index: NCC News Service
NCC Home Page