According to a new report compiled by the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of the General Assembly, there was a significant decrease in congregations, active members, ministers, and presbyteries in the PC(USA) in the past two years.
From 2020 to 2021, the number of PC(USA) congregations dropped from 8,925 to 8,813. Its active membership also dropped from about 1.24 million in 2020 to 1.19 million in 2021.
The report also showed a shrinking number of PC(USA) clergy in the past two years, with there being 18,785 ministers in 2020 and 18,458 in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of presbyteries, also known as regional bodies, dropped to 166 from 170 between 2020 and 2021.
As reported by The Christian Post, the PC(USA) lost four regional bodies in 2021 due to the reorganization of presbyteries in New Jersey last March and the merging of presbyteries in California last July.
The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, who serves as the PC(USA) General Assembly Stated Clerk, claimed that the drop in membership could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have come to the realization that our church has been forever changed by this pandemic,” Nelson said in a statement.
“But this report shows that even though the number of active members continues to go down, we are seeing a slight slowdown in [the] number of people leaving,” he added.
Despite the falling number of active members, the PC(USA) did, however, have a slight increase in the number of “youth professions of faith” and “professions of faith & reaffirmations.”
According to the statistics, the number of youth professions of faith rose from 5,319 in 2020 to 5,708 in 2021 and reaffirmations and professions of faith increased from 9,210 in 2020 to 10,921 in 2021.
The numbers, however, are still lower than pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, the denomination experienced 9,023 youth professions of faith and 21,408 professions of faith and reaffirmations.
“The challenge for the PC(USA) and other Christian denominations is reaching and retaining young people, developing new leaders for tomorrow’s church,” Nelson said.
“I am encouraged to see this turning around, and it will be imperative that we find new ways of being church in the years to come.”
The data for the report, which was released on Monday, was submitted by 82 percent of the PC(USA) churches, representing 91 percent of all denomination leadership.
The PC(USA), which is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, has lost a substantial number of members and congregations over the years due to its acceptance of same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT clergy.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.