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ELCA (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is in trouble… in fact, trends show number of churches is down significantly over the past ten years, and the number of people attending services is down significantly as well.  From the Orlando Sentinel: The Lutheran magazine’s January cover story is about the decline in membership and churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

ELCA Trends: Nearly 30 percent of ELCA churches average less than 50 people for Sunday services. Average worship attendance dropped 26 percent between 2003 and 2011. More than 1,000 ELCA churches have closed during the past 10 years, some merging with other congregations and some just shutting down.

The plight of the Lutherans is not unfamiliar to Protestant denominations. In 2012, less than half of Americans identified themselves as Protestants, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Nearly every U.S. Christian denomination has seen membership declines in the past two years, including Southern Baptists, who seemed invincible in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s,” Radziszewski writes. The Lutherans have tried to reverse the trend with Congregational Renewal Partnership grants, which provided 163 congregations with $2.5 million in 2011. The grants are for three years, but renewal often takes five to seven years, said Neil Harrison, director for Renewed Evangelizing Congregations. // Read more here… What do you think will happen to the ELCA.  Can they turn it around?
Todd elca trends
   
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Trends
So… how are the denominations doing these days?  Not so well.  Here is the top ten of denominations in the United States as reported by the new 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, as well as their increase of decrease over the past year. 1. The Catholic Church: 68.1 million, up 1.49 percent. 2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million, down 0.24 percent. 3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million (U.S.), down 0.98 percent. 4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 5.9 million (U.S.), up 1.71 percent. 5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no change. 6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc: 5 million, no change. 7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.6 million, down 1.62 percent. 8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.: 3.5 million, no change. 9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up 1.27 percent. 10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); 2.8 million, down 3.28 percent. More here… Any thoughts? Todd
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Controversy
A fracture of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America became a real possibility Wednesday with the announcement by dissidents they will have a new Lutheran denomination ready for launch by August. That marks a speed-up in plans by Lutherans who oppose the ELCA’s decision to allow gay clergy to be pastors. “Every day we’re hearing from people asking us to do something, so we are responding,” said the Rev. Paull Spring, chairman of Lutheran CORE. CORE, an umbrella group of Lutheran organizations, led the fight against the gay-clergy vote at the ELCA convention in August in Minneapolis. The measure, which required a two-thirds majority, passed by one vote after days of contentious debate. At the time, ELCA officials asked unhappy members to take no quick action in response to the vote, and delegates to the CORE meeting in Indianapolis agreed to wait a year before moving to split from the ELCA. But last week the second-largest Lutheran congregation in Minnesota, the 4,500-member Hosanna Lutheran, announced it changed its mind about waiting and will take the first of the required two votes to leave the ELCA by mid-December. CORE organizers said their accelerated exit strategy is not tied to any particular church’s decision not to wait. The change in timing is the result of a sense of growing impatience among an increasing number of congregations, said Ryan Schwarz, the chairman of CORE’s Vision and Planning Working Group, the committee that will draw up the framework for the new denomination. “When we talked about waiting a year, we never intended to sit around for a year and just contemplate,” he said. “We expected to do planning. Now we’re also going to be doing the legwork in terms of creating a new church body.” The ELCA has 4.6 million members nationwide. It has 10,391 member churches. Splitting from the parent denomination is not going to be an easy decision for some churches. Of the 87 congregations that have informed the ELCA they are considering leaving, the vote to split has failed in 28 of them. Read More Here
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