MC USA membership drops
Numbers down by nearly 7,000; U.S. Mennonite Brethren hold steadyBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
Mennonite Church USA membership is down by nearly 7,000 over the past two years.
The 6.6 percent decrease to 97,737 comes two years after 104,687 members were reported.
Those figures do not include church plants, which would raise membership to 98,696.
Marty Lehman, MC USA associate executive director of churchwide operations, said while members and congregations are tracked regularly, accuracy has been an issue due to spotty participation.
“Getting congregations to report membership numbers is increasingly difficult as we have no uniform way of doing this,” Lehman said. “Some don’t distinguish between membership and attendance. Some only track attendance.”
She said much of MC USA’s recent growth isn’t officially recorded because it has mostly been with non-white congregations and church plants.
“Many of our racial-ethnic congregations don’t focus much on membership — it is more of an Anglo thing,” she said. “So as you can see, it is a complex issue.”
Some churches have left area conferences. MC USA counts 839 active congregations — 29 of which do not report a membership total. Including church plants, which have not yet formally joined, the number of congregations is 904. Two years ago, there were 872 active MC USA congregations.
MC USA Leadership Development Office manager Beth Hunsberger said part of the decrease comes from changing how some “nonparticipating” Lancaster Mennonite Conference churches are categorized.
“They are active congregations with Lancaster Conference but inactive congregations with Mennonite Church USA,” she said.
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