Statistics aren't the best way to assess a church's vitality, but a first glance at 10 years of ELCA statistical life indicates a continuing refrain: membership and numbers of congregations down slightly; giving up considerably (see page 37).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ended its 10th year, 1997, with 5,185,055 baptized members, down 2,308 over 1996. During our first decade, though, we've had only two growth years — 1990 and 1991. All the rest have seen declines, and all larger than last year's. Total membership loss over the decade is 87,929.
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