LOUISVILLE – The Office of the General Assembly has released the 2012 statistics of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The statistical materials include comparative summaries of the PC(USA)’s membership, a summary of receipts and expenditures from 2009–2012, and additional miscellaneous information.
The total membership of the PC(USA) at the end of 2012 was 1,849,496, compared to 1,952,287 in 2011, which is a decline of 102,791 members.
The number of PC(USA) congregations at the end of 2012 stood at 10,262, or 204 fewer than the previous year. New church developments, new immigrant fellowships, or other worshiping communities within the denomination are not included in this figure, which is limited to congregations that have been officially organized.
Thirteen new churches were organized in 2012. Eighty-six churches were dissolved, compared to 75 in 2011. One hundred ten congregations were dismissed to other denominations, 89 more than the previous year.
Even as congregations and their respective presbyteries faithfully, although often painfully, sought to discern their denominational affiliation in serving Christ’s mission—in some cases resulting in dismissal from the PC(USA)—only 29 percent of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries dismissed churches in 2012.
Slightly fewer than 48,000 individuals joined by profession or reaffirmation of faith, over one-third of who were 17 years old or younger. Adult baptisms totaled 6,129, an increase of 389, and the number of child baptisms declined by 1,560 to 19,862.
Membership loss came largely through certificate of transfer (52,064, compared to 23,082 in 2011). Other losses were attributed to death (29,810, which was 1,944 fewer than 2011) and “other” (99,067, compared to 95,613 the previous year). The “other” category includes those who were members of churches that were dissolved. Two-thirds of the “other” category encompasses the removal of members from the rolls who are no longer active and have not become involved in another community of faith.
In the area of financial giving, the annual statistics for 2011 show that Presbyterians contributed a total of $1,910,795,635 to their congregations.
It is the responsibility of the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to report the annual statistics for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In releasing the 2012 figures, the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, observed that the PC(USA)’s current numbers only “follow a trend that began in the 1950s.”
Referencing an October 9, 2012, study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Parsons cited not only the overall decline in membership that is common to all Protestant denominations, but also the huge growth in the U.S. of the religiously unaffiliated.
“The fact that fewer Americans say they have a religious identity does not necessarily mean there has been an overall decrease in spirituality in America,” Parsons said. “The 2012 statistics challenge us as Presbyterians to connect with the ever-growing number of those with no religious affiliation.”