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:
- Documentation of American seminaries' increasingly diverse student body and, consequently, pastoral leadership for the 21st century. More than one-third of all students in member institutions of the Association of Theological Schools now are women, and the ranks of African American, Hispanic American and Pacific/Asian American seminarians continue to increase as the number of white male seminarians declines.
- Data on the continuing "flattening out" of "mainline" membership losses and "non-mainline" gains. For example, three mainline bellwethers, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church, all have cut membership losses significantly over the past three years.
- Evidence that giving to churches continues to increase, both in real dollars and when corrected for inflation, as does the proportion of that income retained by the congregation for its local church life and mission.
- Introduction by leading pollster George Gallup, Jr., who writes from the "intersection" between the Yearbook's institutional data and his own findings from surveys of individuals' spirituality. Sample quote: "No more daunting task faces the survey researcher than attempting to assess the spiritual health of the population. Yet no task is more important, because we cannot fully understand America if we do not have an appreciation of her spiritual and religious underpinnings."
- A new Yearbook editor -- the NCC's Associate General Secretary for Christian Unity, the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner. In the article "The Church in the 1990's: Trends and Developments," she writes, "The religious landscape in North America is in constant motion. It is axiomatic to note that the contours of the religious landscape are in perpetual flux as befits a continent in which religious tolerance abides. As the close of the millennium approaches, this rate of change appears to have picked up momentum."
- The 1998 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches (375 pages, paperback) is printed by Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tenn. It is available through the NCC's Friendship Press telephone 212-870-2496 for U.S.$35 retail (prepaid) (includes U.S.$5.05 shipping costs). It also may be purchased at local bookstores across the U.S. and Canada.
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:
- for the first time, a chapter on "The Emerging Electronic Church." The chapter includes six pages of website addresses for church search engines; world, national, regional and local denominational and ecumenical bodies; sources of religion news, church periodicals and publishers; relief and disaster response organizations, and other groups.
- many more website and e-mail addresses throughout the book's many directories.
- directories of national cooperative organizations and religious bodies, regional and local ecumenical agencies, theological seminaries and Bible schools; a list of depositories of church history materials, and religious periodicals in the United States and Canada.
- a "Trends and Developments" section, which analyzes data provided by 164 denominations in the United States and 86 denominations in Canada. Trends analysis is based on current data submitted to the Yearbook.
- a statistical section providing membership and financial statistics and related data on U.S. and Canadian churches, including an updated look at trends in seminary education.
- a calendar of religious observances in Protestant (Episcopal and Lutheran), Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Baha'i religious bodies along with ecumenical observances for 1998-2001.
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|
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:
- While 164 U.S. churches are listed in the 1998 Yearbook, only three of these (the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention and United Methodist Church) account for more than 50 percent of church membership.
- These three denominations have a combined inclusive membership of 85,395,256 fully 53.55 percent of the 152,029,110 in the 32 largest denominations in the United States.
- Those 32 denominations, in turn, claim more than 95 percent of all church membership reported to the 1998 Yearbook, continuing longstanding patterns of affiliation. (While not all churches report data to the Yearbook, the data portray the continuing centrality of a relatively few denominations in claiming the allegiance or at least membership of U.S. Christians.) The pattern among these specific denominations has endured throughout the last two decades.
- Thus, insofar as the Yearbook has been able to count, nearly four in 10 U.S. church members is Roman Catholic (61,207,914), nearly one in 10 Southern Baptist (15,691,964) and one in 20 United Methodist (8,495,378). Another one in 20 belongs to the fourth-ranked National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. (8,200,000).
- Four of the 10 largest U.S. denominations have predominantly African American membership. Those bodies are the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc., with 8.2 million members; Church of God in Christ (5,499,875); National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. (3.5 million), and African Methodist Episcopal Church (3.5 million).
- The National Council of Churches' 34 Protestant, Orthodox and Episcopal member church bodies report a combined inclusive membership of 51,500,943 in nearly 138,000 congregations (down from 51,842,456 in 33 denominations, a loss of 0.71 percent before adding the 30,000 U.S. members of the Mar Thoma Church, which joined the NCC in November 1997).
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||%|
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|
* Figures from denominations that resulted from mergers since 1940 are combined totals from predecessor denominations.
OVERALL CONTRIBUTIONS RISE, BUT "BENEVOLENCES" DECLINEFollowing 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|
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 WebsiteContact: NCC News Department
Index: NCC News Service