“The statistical back door is far too large in our congregations. Back-door losses muffle front-door gains," said ELCA Secretary Lowell G. Almen in announcing the ELCA's membership statistics for 2003. "Too many members slip out the back door and disappear ... each year."
ELCA baptized membership slipped below 5 million in 2003, with 4,984,925 parishioners in 10,657 congregations — a reduction of 53,081 — Almen reported. Since 1990, membership has decreased a quarter million from 5,240,739. About half that decline occurred in 2002-03, with a combined decrease of 114,952.
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