Membership within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to dwindle, with about 50,000 fewer members in 2022 than in 2021, according to the denomination’s annual statistical report.
The numbers released Monday by the Office of the General Assembly were gleaned from some 80% of churches submitting statistical data that represents 90% of PC(USA) membership, and they show a loss of 53,105 members as well as a drop of 108 churches in the denomination. This follows a nearly 60-year trend of shrinking membership as people leave the denomination or die. The 2021 report showed a loss of 51,584 members, although baptisms in 2021 increased, likely due to delays in the sacrament caused by pandemic-induced church closings.
Current PC(USA) membership is 1,140,665. Peak membership was in 1965, with 4.25 million members in the two denominations that merged in 1983 to form the PC(USA).
A 2020 Gallup poll showed a national downward trend across the board, with 47% of Americans saying they belonged to a house of worship. In 1999, 70% said they had membership in a church, mosque or synagogue.
Despite the overall denominational losses, the numbers of new worshiping communities and small churches have grown. The PC(USA) added 20 new worshiping communities, continuing a year-over-year trend since 2016. And the number of small churches with fewer than 50 members has also increased over time, from 3,510 in 2019 to 3,752 in 2022.
The number of the largest PC(USA) churches, those with memberships greater than 800 members, also decreased. In 2019, those churches numbered 199. In 2022, that number sat at 170.
Racially, the denomination’s membership is predominately White, at 89% overall, and older, with about a third of the membership age 71 or older, the report shows. Numbers around gender show women as the majority of members, at about 61.5%.
The report shows the median presbytery with a membership of 5,231 people, and the average presbytery consists of 109 ministers, 52 churches and five candidates.
To read the full report, click here.