The exodus from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues, as congregations seeking a more conservative home leave for other denominations. Some are small congregations ― 20 or 30 members ― and some are among the largest and wealthiest churches in the PC(USA).
The departures, mostly for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, have been ongoing for some time now, but the cumulative impact is adding up. ECO reports that 60 congregations so far have formally joined its ranks, with more either in discernment or on the way.
The PC(USA) reported that in 2012, the denomination dismissed 110 congregations to other denominations, compared to 21 in 2011. Another 86 congregations were dissolved ― typically, too small to continue operating ― and overall, the PC(USA) lost more than 102,000 members in 2012, according to the denomination’s 2012 comparative statistics report.
That 5 percent membership loss constituted the denomination’s net numerical loss since the 1970s and largest loss, in percentage terms, in almost 50 years of ongoing membership declines. The PC(USA) now reports 1.84 million members, less than half of its peak membership of 4.25 million members in 1965 and down from 1.95 million members in 2011.