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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Campaign comes at special time

Numbers point to needed work

The ELCA fundraising campaign recently approved by the Churchwide Assembly gets right to the heart of issues facing the denomination. It hopes to expand by $77 million funding for new and renewing congregations, seminary scholarships, World Hunger, the Malaria Campaign, missionaries, global ministries, international leaders, youth and disability ministries. The campaign runs from 2014-2018, and is the first of its kind in the ELCA.

Worthy causes all, the new congregations and renewing congregations programs come at a significant moment. In the Office of the Secretary report to the Churchwide Assembly, ELCA baptized membership slipped below 4 million. In subsequently updated figures, baptized membership stood at 3,950,924 in 2012, a decline of 2.68 percent from the year prior. Weekly worship attendance totaled 1,088,737 in 2012, a drop of 3.06 percent.

Yes, we've lost members from the sexuality decisions of 2009. Yes, our total number of congregations fell by 105 from 2011 to '12 to a total of 9,533. Yet these red figures must be viewed through the lens of declining membership and participation across Christianity in the U.S. Last year, the Roman Catholic Church reported a 0.44 percent decline in membership; Southern Baptist Convention, 0.7 percent; United Methodist Church, 1.22 percent; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 3.4 percent; Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, 1.45 percent; Episcopal Church, 2.7 percent.


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