According to the Comparative Statistics released yesterday by the Office of the General Assembly, the denomination’s membership declined by 92,433 in 2014 to 1,667,767. That is a 5.54 percent decline from 2013’s total membership of 1,760,200. While this year’s decline was not the largest decline numerically, it was the largest decline statistically. In 2012, the PCUSA declined 5.26 percent. (Click here for chart showing PCUSA membership and losses 1960-2014.)
In the three years 2012-2014, the PCUSA’s membership declined by more than 15%. (view graphic at right.)
There has not been an increase in membership in the PCUSA since the reunion denomination was formed in 1983. The last recorded membership increase for the PCUSA’s two combined predecessor denominations – the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) – was in 1965.
The statistics reveal that the PCUSA dismissed 101 congregations to other denominations in 2014 and closed and dissolved 36 churches. However, the statistics also show that there are 209 fewer churches in 2014 – 9,829 – than there were in 2013 when there were 10,038 PCUSA churches. No churches joined the PCUSA in 2014.
Total contributions being put into the offering plate by Presbyterians across the nation also declined — by $109,891,829. In 2014, those contributions amounted to $1,738,915,711. In 2013, they were $1,848,807,540.
“Membership statistics and church numbers tell one story, but it’s not the entire message of how the PCUSA is impacting the world,” PCUSA Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons said in the article announcing the 2014 statistics. “God continues to breathe new life into our work and challenges us to find new, creative ways to touch and transform lives.”
Carmen Fowler LaBerge offered that “these numbers were expected. We talk daily to individuals and congregations that are leaving the PCUSA. The PCUSA is losing adherents. She is not doing the basic work of evangelism nor are her disciples making new disciples.”
She noted that the recent Presbyterian Mission Agency financial report and the Pew Research study released yesterday confirm the decline of the PCUSA.
LaBerge also identifies a question that arises from the stats. “There are some things that make curious, like the number of churches dismissed. I’m fairly certain that between the EPC and ECO more than 101 churches left the PCUSA in 2014. So there’s some lag or reporting error to be reconciled.”
Related article: Presbyterians collapsing, or “Settling into the new thing God is creating”?,by Jeffrey Walton, Juicy Ecumenism