Executive Presbyter, New Covenant Presbytery
“We will be better off in another denomination,” said the person who has decided God’s will for their congregation. That assumption has always left me wondering what is meant by “better off,” but I’ve never seen any data to support or challenge that assumption. That’s why I decided to do my own research on the subject.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) graciously provided me with their 2012 statistics and the Office of the General Assembly provided our statistics for the last ten years. I tracked 85 congregations that were in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) prior to 2008 and have since left for the EPC, to gather basic statistical information and discover if there were any trends among congregations who departed for the EPC. These 85 congregations represent 20% of the current membership of the EPC, making them a statistically significant sample to study. Of note, without these 85 congregations, the EPC would have recorded a 3% loss in membership from 2011 to 2012.
If you are not a statistic “geek” you can skip to the last two paragraphs for my conclusions. Otherwise, here is a plethora of statistical information. In 2002, these 85 congregations had a collective membership of 31,822. In 2008, before any had left the PC(USA), they had declined by 601 members, a 2% loss. In the four years between 2008 and 2012, during and following their departures to the EPC, their membership losses skyrocketed to 16%.