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UM Worship and Attendance Figures Continue to Drop

From: LayLeader@GatewayUMC.org [mailto:LayLeader@GatewayUMC.org]
Saturday, August 21, 2004 5:47 PM
NEWSCOPE: UM Worship and Attendance Figures Continue to Drop

From the Aug. 13 edition (attached)

UM Worship and Attendance Figures Continue to Drop  

Based on reports submitted by conference communicators and other reporters, the UMC in the United States is continuing its slow decline in membership and worship attendance. With 62 of 63 conferences reporting, membership at the end of 2003 has declined by approximately 60,000 persons, or 0.7%, from the year before. Average attendance at the principal worship service declined by about 60,000 persons, or 2% (61 conferences reporting). Numbers were provided by reporters in their annual conference reports printed in NEWSCOPE and are un-audited. Fifteen conferences reported a growth in membership, with North Georgia Conference reporting a 1.64% increase, or 5,399 persons, though worship attendance within the conference declined by 0.05%. No other annual conference reported a membership growth of more than one percent.

The largest percentage decline in membership (6.05% or 3,895 persons) was reported by the Wyoming Conference, covering parts of New York and Pennsylvania, though it reported no change in attendance. No other annual conference reported a decline in membership greater than 3%. In order of total membership, the top three conferences are Virginia (342,106), North Georgia (333,664), and Florida (329,018). However, Florida reported the largest worship attendance (161,375). West Ohio, with a 6,767-member drop to 243,888, slipped a notch to seventh in membership, behind Oklahoma (248,364). Kansas East Conference did not report membership or attendance information, while Tennessee Conference did not provide attendance statistics.

Only one annual conference reported both an increase in membership and an increase in worship attendance. The Mississippi Conference reported a 0.25%, or 483-person, increase in membership and a 0.57%, or 439-person, increase in attendance. Six other conferences reported an increase in worship attendance. West Ohio had the largest increase, with 2.34%, or 2,887 persons. The only other conferences to report an attendance growth greater than one percent were Peninsula-Delaware (1.61%) and Desert Southwest (1.52%, based on the 2002 figure reported in the General Minutes).

The other conferences reporting attendance growth in order of percentage were Mississippi, Pacific Northwest, North Alabama, and South Georgia. The largest decline in attendance was reported by the New York Conference. The 15.58%, or 6,428-person, decrease in 2003 follows a 6.3%, or 2,653-person, growth in attendance during 2002, as reported in the General Minutes. New York did report a membership growth in 2003 of 802 persons, or 0.62%. Four other conferences reported a decrease of attendance greater than 5%: Red Bird Missionary, 7.78%; Rocky Mountain, 6.27%; East Ohio, 6.13%; and Nebraska, 5.40%.  

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