From 2007 to 2008, the number of ELCA congregations dropped from 10,448 to 10,396, according to the summary of congregational statistics (parochial reports) recently tallied. The report also revealed the loss of 76,069 members.
The annual report tracks everything from deaths to ethnicity, from giving to worship attendance.
Average worship attendance is one of the items that gives ELCA Secretary David D. Swartling pause—1,330,709 (28.71 percent) of members attend weekly worship, down 31,411 from the previous year when it was 1,362,120 (28.92 percent).
Good news came in categories related to giving and diversity.
Total receipts for ELCA congregations exceeded $2.7 billion in 2008, dipping 2.64 percent from 2007. But average giving per baptized member actually increased slightly, continuing an upward trend from 2000, Swartling said. Total assets of ELCA congregations remained $20.6 billion, virtually unchanged since 2007.
“Despite the challenging economic times that began in 2008, ELCA members continue to be faithful stewards of the resources God has provided,” Swartling said. “Our challenge in these turbulent times is to find innovative ways to translate the asset wealth of our congregations into enhanced ministry.”
The reports from 2008 also indicate that 3.35 percent of ELCA members are people of color or people whose language is other than English—a slight increase from 3.20 percent the previous year.
“The number of congregations reporting more than 5 percent multicultural membership has increased by almost 40 percent since 2000,” he said. “More and more congregations are coming to appreciate their calling to be more intentionally inclusive.”
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