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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