Magazine article The Christian Century

Yearbook Focuses on Religious Pluralism

Magazine article The Christian Century

Yearbook Focuses on Religious Pluralism

Article excerpt

The Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church remain the nation's largest church bodies, reports the new edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The volume, prepared annually by the National Council of Churches, continues to report on North American denominational and ecumenical bodies but also includes in its 2000 edition contacts for eight non-Christian American faith traditions for the first time.

Eileen W. Lindner, editor of the Yearbook, said there is "a more nuanced interpretation" of the various factors effecting changes in liberal and conservative church growth statistics. "For the first time the Southern Baptist Convention reports a loss rather than a gain in membership," she said. "The percentage of membership loss for the convention is virtually identical to that of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), raising increasing doubts about the adequacy of a conservative-church growth as opposed to a progressive-church decline scenario. "On the other hand, a solid and consistent growth pattern continues to be reported by the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination often identified as a growing conservative communion."

The membership totals for the top three denominations are reported as follows: Roman Catholic Church, 62,018,436; Southern Baptist Convention, 15,729,356; United Methodist Church, 8,400,000. The yearbook lists the following top ten U.S. church bodies: 1. …

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