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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Westward ho!

Population migration to the South and West will impact more than a reallocation of congressional seats. This shift has implications for the ELCA and other mainline denominations, says Martin Marty. Lutherans are numerous in the states that lost seats after the 2000 census — Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

In his "Sightings" e-mail column (published by the University of Chicago Divinity School), the emeritus professor and ELCA pastor writes: "It's a common observation in the sociology of religion that inherited loyalties do not travel well. Snowbirds who flee to Sunbelts don't always take their denominational loyalties and traditions with them."

Even if they "transplant" the tradition they are used to, Marty says, "they tend to acquire colorations of the cultures adapted to their new sites."

Richard Magnus, executive director of the ELCA Division for Outreach, says the population shift "will challenge us to put resources from where we are strong now numerically to where we need to become strong."


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