From the AFA Journal, Sept., 2014
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has made a decision that may prove to be the final blow to the PCUSA denomination.
On July 19, the PCUSA General Assembly approved a recommendation allowing pastors to perform at their discretion “any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform” as long as it is consistent with state law, including same sex marriages.
“By overturning natural marriage, the PCUSA is only accelerating its already fast-paced demise,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “Only declining denominations reject historic Christian standards, and in nearly every case that rejection reinforces the decline.”
The chart would be even more striking if another line were added: US population increase since 1960.
In 1960 the consolidated membership of the two denominations that would form the PCUSA represented about 2.3% of the US Population.
Based on the reported membership for the end of 2013 it would be about 0.56% of the US Population.
If the PCUSA still represented 2.3% of the US Population it would have approximately 7.3 million members but it reports only 1.76 million members.
Don: Most simple, in 1960, US population stood at about 175 million, today, about 330, give or take. Projections take the US population to about 425 mil by 2050. Or in other words, if the liberal mainline UPC/PCUS/PCUSA just kept place with population growth since 1960, the PCUSA should be at about 6.5-7 mil. in 2014. So what happened?
-Allot did happen, suffice to say the PCUSA made a conscious choice to align itself to a general culture of death and sin in popular culture, doubling down on the concept of social/polity/theological/ideological accommodation to the external culture as a means to either numerical growth or relevancy. The end point is that is today, the PCUSA has far more in common with the pagans, secularists, humanists on a whole host of matters, as opposed to normative Christianity. Diversity and pluralism has become a religion and faith in and of itself. That is deity the PCUSA worships on a corporate level.
The numbers given by Louisville that current membership is about 1.7 mil should not be believed. Assuming the normative practice of how churches maintain or clean the roles, over inflating numbers up the food chain, The real secret Louisville does not want to get out is that if you based PCUSAers on per capita participation and receipts. A far more better and accurate reflection of active membership, the real numbers of active or real live, “breathing “members, the actual membership of the PCUSA in 2014 is about 800K-1 mil. And its going south from that, until the system crashes.
There is no escape from the death spiral. The dye is cast.
We are the pastors who renounced our jurisdiction in 2011. We were the first to renounce in Beaver Butler Presbytery. Our letter to the Committee on Ministry was precise. The Lord told us this would happen and when the Amendment 10A and NFOG were approved in May and June of 2011 respectively, we renounced before any of these went into effect. Did we not make it clear in the letter?
Jeff & Bev Harris
Since the supporters of this website seem to make a habit of making a distinction between “conservative Presbyterians” and “progressive Presbyterians, perhaps you should consider the following:
There is an ebb and flow of Presbyterian denominations coming together and breaking apart, acknowledged even by this article with those pre-1980 numbers including both the PCUS and UPC. So in 1970 there were four million in those two denominations and a small number in some other groups. Maybe a million of those were people you would identify as “progressives.” Now we have the PCUSA and a larger number in self-identified conservative denominations. Although growing, those remain small by comparison, and their growth seems to be coming from the fact that unlike the progressives of decades ago, the conservatives of today are less willing to be in a denomination in which they are a minority. And more often than not, when one looks at membership numbers for individual congregations leaving the PCUSA, their membership has been going down faster than the denomination as a whole.
We still have about a million progressive Presbyterians just as in 1970, so it should not be so hard for you to figure out exactly what is in significant decline.
OK, I will play along. So where are all the religious progressives/liberals whom you assume were 1 mil in 1970, and 1 mil today, which I will give you. In any demographic projection, one would expect some positive uptick in raw numbers, given that the overall population has in essence doubled over 40 years. So are the same religious progressive in 1970, being counted again in the GA stats for 2014? I think they are. Given over all age distribution in the church. And those 1970 religious progressives are retired, in managed care, or dead and still be accounted for in some shape of form. So where is all this great millennial, Gen X progressives who are hoped to save the denomination? Answer, they are not in church, nor do they care about church or religion or faith to any great degree. The sons, daughters and grandsons of the 1970 progressives are not to found in the PCUSA universe by and large. You feed somebody a steady diet of secular rationalism and ethics, moral relativism, you get what you get. God only gives you so much time to reproduce yourself, the PCUSA blew that one pretty bad.
I will say this, your church has major bills coming up, major programs and things it wants to do. The money from dead people will only last so long. Religious liberals and progressives need to support their religious liberal and progressive causes, well “liberally”. The results of the 1001 new congregations, and mergers of the various mission giving programs do not impress to date. Time is on your friend.
Pres …. there are many, many factors in play. The demographic trends are not at all positive. The PCUSA periodically reports the median age of its membership
2008 60 years old
2009 61 years old
2011 63 years old
If this trend has continued, the current median age of the PCUSA reported membership is probably just over 65 years old. In an actuarial sense, half the current reported membership will be deceased in 15 years. That would not even take into effect the other factors of congregations leaving. Even if Presbyteries succeed in obtaining legal title to a piece of property the members will be gone.
Looking closer at the statistics year by year there are consistently more deaths than child baptisms. For example, it was reported in 2013 there were 28,734 member deaths and 17,929 child baptisms.
The 1001 new communities in 10 years sounds great. I hope it works. However, assuming all reach the average size of a PCUSA congregation and assuming every member is a not currently a PCUSA member it would represent a total increase of much less than 100,000 members. Total membership is dropping that much annually. Most literature on church planting estimate that it actually takes a membership of somewhere in the 150-200 range for a congregation to be financially self sufficient to be able to support a facility and a minister.
As I said, the demographic trends are not at all positive.
The point is that this analysis is made on the basis of the assumptions put forward by the typical Layman supporter. Not to mention that the 1 million estimate from 1970 may be an exagerration. While it may be that progressive Presbyterians have not increased in number (or not increased by much) we see that they have at least held steady while conservative Presbyterians decreased from a large majority out of over four million to a minority of 1.7 million plus a couple hundred thousand in some small denominations. It seems odd to watch you all seeming to think that you are dancing on the grave of the PCUSA, when in fact it is not those you call “progressives” who are disappearing. The future has serious challenges for the PCUSA, but frankly they look much less daunting when compared to the undeniable and dramatic decline of what seems to be the sort of Presbyterian church the Layman would envision.
Linking stories from the American Family Association? Perhaps, you can get some more commentary from another hate group in your next edition?
With the decline, henceforth the crack down on churches leaving, this so when the last lights turned out, parsons etc will still thriving jobs doing nothing except playing church, and making assinine pronoucements.
Justin represents what I will call the “ill-liberal, liberals”. Or those intolerant of opinions and concepts other than their own hard-left agenda. Applying the term “hate-group” to any body or organization who do not endorse or carry the water in their quest for concepts of social justice and redistributionist schemes. They predominate the college and seminary campuses, as well as the institutional PCUSA. They seek to chill free and open speech, and intimidate those who are not in their camp. Again, trying to chill dissent by throwing the terms about to call religious conservatives and traditionalists as not loving, or compassionate, or somehow less than their enlightened, morally superior lot. Call them out for who and what they are. Nice try Justin, get back to reading the Huffington Post now.
AFA is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. No doubt the SPLC is not among your favorites, but the classification is not done lightly. Based on such things as the AFA blaming the holocaust on gays and lesbians (a very interesting case of victim and perpetrator reversal) and supporting the criminalization of homosexual activity, among many other things.
This all still goes to back what’s happening to the blood money going to the PCUSA? It’s not going missionaries, it’s not funding hospitals, clinics etc. While the church slowly sinks the PCUSA is sittiing on millions of dollars. Where is the money going PCUSA?
We are obligated to expose false gospels wherever they are found because they are condemning. It is not hatred toward the pcusa but a mercy. It’s that simple.
Why would anyone stay in a church if they knew it was condemning?…..they stay because they don’t know.
Proof of their false gospel lies in the gospel itself……so they’ve had to through the bible away to keep the lie going.
James H: It is all very simple. Think of the current PCUSA as a house built in the mid-1950s designed for 4.5-5 million people to live in. Over the years as folks went into hospice, left, died, dropped out, whatever, the caretakers still kept all the lights and other functions on full tilt. In all those musty and empty rooms. So now the same house is now home to about 1-1.5 million in real numbers. But the management still assumes the job and function of the remaining occupants, with limited resources of their own, is to feed, pay and take care of the management, rather well, to be honest.
From Louisville, OGA, to Synod, to Presbytery the governing matrix of the organization is too fat, boated, entitled and simply too employed relative to the population they seek to serve. Any and all funds or money in the organization is directed to the organization to feed the beast, and in essence keep the wheels running. As I have stated many times the PCUSA can win every court case, extort the maximum amount from any church seeking to leave, shake down any clergy, non-profit, sell every piece of silverware and go visit every cash to gold kiosk. Raise per capita to $500 a person. It will never be enough. They have too many on staff, too many bureaucrats occupying office space, too many Synods, to many Presbyteries , too many on every staff to ever pay their bills, And if left to their own devises they would find a way to raid the Pension funds to pay for their continued upkeep and life styles. As long as the checks clear and they get paid, all is well.
And that is how to follow the money.
Thank you for your comments and correct explanation, pres.
Peter Gregory, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. It is amusing to read your ill informed analysis and blanket statements. Perhaps, you have a future working for the Layman.
I will give this publication/website one piece of praise. They allow for all kind of voices in the comments, even yours (and mine).
You are welcome. AFA hate speech is not limited to LGBT people. Spokespersons for the AFA are quoted saying that Muslims should be deported and that the government should prevent the construction of mosques. Now there is a statement on this website’s support for religious freedom!
Once again, your analysis is curious in light of the Layman’s division of Presbyterians into progressives and conservatives. No doubt the PCUSA sturcture may downsize, but it is funny to suggest that a 1.7 million church or a potential future 1 million church cannot support a denominational structure. For layman sympathizers, we have the PCA at 1/5 the size of the PCUSA. Then there is the EPC whose members could not be in the PCA, so they create a denominational structure at less than 1/10 the PCUSA. The ECO cannot fit in with either if those, so they create a denominational structure for their relatively tiny membership. And of course, there is also an OpC, ARPC, FPC, RPC, WPC, CPC, ErPC, EAPCA, … On and on, a whole alphabet soup of conservative presbyterians each with their own headquarters. What is it with you people that you not only cannot get on with the PCUSA, you also cannot get on with each other?
And for Pastor Gregory, something else I do not understand. I belong to several organizations, and i do not always agree with everything they do. Nonetheless, if i did not fundamentally repect the organization and its leaders, i would not longer belong. Given the sentiments and opinions you express about the PCUSA, how do you justify remaining as a member, let alone being an employee?
All the other Presbyterian denominations you mentioned don’t have a bunch blabber mouth blow hards making assinine pronouncements about things they don’t know anything about. The PCUSA leadership is unaccountable and over bloated, it’s that simple.
Pres: Lets have some fun with numbers. If you count all the paid staff positions in the PCUSA governing matrix, Louisville complex, OGA, Presbytery, Synods camps, centers, and all its listed positions. The number you get is about 3500 positions, some are filled, other vacant at the moment. All are listed in the public domain for any to research, there is no making stuff up. The people heavy environment staff wise is in the 8 or 9 theological seminaries. You easily can double that number. So lets go back to the accepted number of live, breathing PCUSA in the pews folks of 1.5 million, which is I think is a rather generous number. Simple math derives that for every 1 live breathing person in the pews, they are supporting about 130-150 academics, functionaries, bureaucrats, support staff, part timers, whatever that makes up the management structure of the PCUSA today. The problem at this point is two. There were about the same number of denominational staff, listed positions folk in 1970. In simple dollars and sense I do not see how you make that math work. Also the assumption on the PCUSA part is that all numbers will grow or increase to pay such stuff.
And does not even begin to deal with how you make a pension and health care plan work for its clergy based on that math. So yes, will the PCUSA have support staff, sure, but going forward much, much, much smaller in cost and footprint. There is no other choice. . Your other comments about the EPC, OPC, PCA, whatever, makes no sense.
As far as me. I choose to use by own God given name when I post here and other sites. Google my name and I am there all to see and how to contact me. It is very simple. You, on the other hand choose to go by the term you choose, maybe its part of your name, maybe not. Bottom line, if you lack the will, courage to provide such when you post then you are a coward who lacks the moral conviction of whatever point you wish to make, and like others of your opinion choose to hide in the shadows. When you choose to come out and be straightforward with others I will be more than happy to address your other concerns.
Again I am very easy to find and contact and we can carry on this discussion at your pleasure.
The Titanic is slowly sinking, and one day, the ship will have no people just a shell of death.
Does anyone know if the far-left PCUSA is having trouble finding enough young liberal people willing to be pastors?
Numbers, really? Employees of seminaries and camps…sorry, not about to go counting them. I don’t know exactly what constitutes “bloated” but at the moment it appears that the bills get paid based on per capita ( even if some churches consider that optional) of less than 2 cents per day. Will let you know when that becomes a burden, but for the moment i will invest my time better if i continue to have some confidence in people we have asked to do the best they can with the resources. I did check the office in Louisville and appears that there are about 35 people with a phone extension. Also checked the EPC office in Livonia… About 25 extensions there, for a denomination that is 1/10 the size. 35? There must be almost that many different “conservative” presbyterian denominations, each with its own bureaucracy to support. If my 2 cents a day eventually goes up to 3 or 4 i think i can manage it.
Regarding anonymous posts, you may notice on this string that other than you and one other seemingly out of place and inexplicable post (probably on the wrong page?) all of the Layman supporters do the same. I don’t know their individual reasons. Frankly, although it may be a little vain, i don’t want anyone doing a search on my name turning up this page, since if they don’t read the post they might get the mistaken impression that i support the agenda of this organization. You use your name, you then have the right to say you know something about the military or how the meetings go in your particular presbytery. As an anonymous poster i am not going to claim to have some special knowledge as a doctor or lawyer or indian chief, since i would have no right to do so. Just comments on facts, such as the objective reasons that justin’s comment on the AFA as a hate group is well founded, and that your criticism of him is way out of line. There would be nothing particularly courageous for me in posting that under my name, and i have attached my name to opinions other places, a couple times in print in letters to major newspapers and occasionally online. IF i was posting on the PCUSA webpage, i would be happy to do so. But here, not so much.
” I did check the office in Louisville and appears that there are about 35 people with a phone extension.”
Were you actually trying to find a staff listing? The Alphabetical Staff Directory, which is Google’s first result from searching “PCUSA employees,” lists roughly 550-600. A few extensions are shared but most are unique to the various individuals.
If I am not mistaken, PG uses the term “bloated” for the office of the general assembly in louisville, which is also always the target of criticism on this webpage. The comparison was for staff listed on the OGA page with extensions in Louisville, and the similar office for the EPC. The 2 cents per day per capita is for the general assembly. If you want to expand to everything, my total per capita is more like 3 1/2 cents per day. I think my church spends that much per week on just the coffee I personally consume on Sunday morning.
And apologies for not making that more clear.
pres, you have got to get a life.
OK, but again you’re comparing apples to oranges. Comparing staff [as listed in easily available online directories] at denominational headquarters gives you a PCUSA-to-EPC ratio of something like 570:25.
Adding in presbytery and (for PCUSA) synod employees, I rather doubt you’d get the thousands that Peter Gregory says (well, I guess he includes seminaries and camps too, but they are presumably somewhat self-supporting?). But if each presbytery and synod office has even a handful of employees, that’s hundreds more in total. Neither of the EPC presbyteries of which I am familiar, had even one FTE.
But if you want to focus on PCUSA’s OGA with around 35 employees, then the relevant comparison is not to the entire staff at Livonia but probably to the Office of the Stated Clerk, which lists ten employees.
So while the presence of 500+ other Louisville employees does not on its own prove “bloat,” a comparison to other, much smaller Presbyterian denominations doesn’t do anything to disprove it, either.
[In case anyone cares, this is a different Don than the one who posted on Sept. 2.]
The 35 in louisville are the list for the pcusa ” office of the general assembly” and the 25 in livonia are the list for the EPC “office of the general assembly,” so not exactly apples and oranges and hardly 570 to 25. But you are correct that this is all pretty pointless, and only in response to the questionable comments about “3500.” Especially in light of the inherent lack of economies of scale in splitting off into so many little conservative presbyterian bureacracies. You may not like the direction of the PCUSA for whatever reason, but all together all of those little denominations are going to accumulate more overhead ( and there are a lot of them). And again, even if some adminstrative trimming is in order for the pcusa, my 3 1/2 cents per day per capita is a long way from an existential threat. Pretending that it is is just silly.
One can argue about data bases, phone books, metics, numbers, actual live bodies vs. positions. It would indeed be interesting to know that in a religious organization that has seen membership decline every year since 1978, where the median salary for full time clergy is about 54K, where 1/3rd of its churches lack clergy leadership, where the average size of a PCUSA congregation is now less than 90, where clergy unemployment/underemployment in the youngest cohort is pandemic, just how many of its leaders, managers, bureaucrats make an average of over 6 figures .Again, that data would be easy to access. I would guess the top 10 paid officials of the PCUSA, as well as goodly number of EPs, especially in the urban coasts, are doing quit well in terms of income and compensations. Quite detached in terms of their experience of the church on the ground or the realities of in 2014. The church itself as a 1% vs a 99 problem as well.
Petty, mean spirited, a fruitless and pointless exercise? Not when by any objective measure of the relative fiscal and material integrity of the institution points to continued contraction, schism, and endless institutional missteps, if not incompetence. (Zionism Unsettled/AIs) At what point does a tired and worn membership base, many on fixed and limited income say enough. That it is not their job to provide full employment to denominational staff and appointed management. One can argue per capita is the best deal in town, pennies on a dollar or a day. Like water off a ducks back. One cannot argue that each penny lost in the denominational matrix is a penny lost to something else or another worthy need. The rest of the 99% I think is getting tired.
Isn’t far left liberalism mixed in with Communism/Socialism great???? Amazing how those who claim to be tolerant, broad minded are the opposite lying their way to the Lake of Fire, Rev. 21.
While the patient lies near death one camp attempts to diagnose and treat the diseases. The other argues that other patients are worse than their patient. A quick read of church history shows that churches and church associations thrive when they hold fast to essentials and loosely hold to cultural values like dress and music.
As a former elder I saw this in practice over many years.