Vital Signs: The Promise of Mainstream Protestantism

By Milton J Coalter, John M. Mulder and Lewis B. Weeks
WJKP. 2001. 137 pp. Pb. $16.95. ISBN 0-9724196-0-8

— Review by Lillian McCulloch Taylor

Pastors and church leaders will welcome the re-issue of this 1996 summary of 15 years of research concerning mainline Protestantism in America. Many will recall that the research was originally published in seven volumes under the general heading, The Presbyterian Presence, appearing between 1990 and 1992 from Westminster/John Knox Press. That research was aided by a significant grant from the Lilly Endowment.

What was needed upon conclusion of the seven-volum

e report was a smaller volume written for pastors and lay people, to make accessible that research to local congregations and governing bodies. Vital Signs is that summary volume. First appearing in 1996, the book was quickly sold out, with demand exceeding supply. It has now been reissued in updated form by a different publisher.

The authors, all church historians, are concerned not only to describe the factors contributing to the contemporary decline of mainline Protestant churches in America, but also to prescribe what steps are necessary for their re-formation in our time. Despite the bad news that is reported without flinching, the authors find many “vital signs” of healing and renewal. It is essentially a book of hope for mainline churches in America.


To order phone 800/335-7177.