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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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ELCA congregations, income up

It's two up and one down for the ELCA in 1995:

Congregations: up by 50 to 11,023.

Congregational income: up to an all-time high of $1.8 billion.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America membership: down 8,559 to 5,190,489.

The increase in congregations is the net result of consolidations, congregations organized during the year and congregations still under development, according to the ELCA Office of the Secretary, which supplied the statistics.

Although virtually stable, membership dropped for the third year in a row. Adult baptisms were up 137 to 7,658 while child baptisms were down 1,233 to 79,090.

About 1.6 million or 30 percent of members worship each Sunday.

Ethnic membership totals 110,423 or about 2 percent of total ELCA membership. Each ethnic community increased during 1995.

In learning ministries, 9,357 congregations reported having Sunday schools with 886,744 students and 141,754 leaders. A total of 7,188 congregations held vacation Bible schools during the year.

Ahead of inflation

Total income for congregations reached $1.8 billion, an increase of almost 5 percent, which greatly exceeds the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1995 inflation rate of nearly 3 percent. Average annual giving per confirmed member increased $20 to $388, up almost 6 percent.

An average congregation spent about 68 percent of its income for operating expenses, 10 percent on capital improvements, 8 percent for debt retirement and passed on 7 percent to fund the synods and the national and international ministries of the ELCA. The total amount from congregations for synodical and churchwide support was $120 million, up nearly 2 percent from 1994.

Congregations reported close to $1 billion in savings, investments, endowments and memorial funds. Sixty-two percent show no debt.


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