Anabaptists increasing worldwide
MWC triennial census numbers are inBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
A new Mennonite World Conference census counts 1.77 million baptized Anabaptist believers in 243 national conferences. Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and related churches are located in 83 countries.
The triennial 2012 census indicates Anabaptist world membership as determined by MWC grew 9.8 percent since 2009, from 1,616,126 to 1,774,720 — a slightly higher rate of growth than the 9.3 percent from 2006 to 2009.
The total includes MWC members and associate members, as well as other churches also part of the Anabaptist movement.
Africa is home to the greatest portion, with 38.3 percent, followed by North America (29.8 percent), Asia/Pacific (17.8 percent), Latin America/Caribbean (10.5 percent) and Europe (3.6 percent). About two-thirds of baptized believers are African, Asian or Latin American.
The Meserete Kristos Church in Ethiopia, which grew by 30.2 percent to 224,396 members, continues to be the largest national conference. The next largest group is Old and New Order Amish in the United States, which reported 114,440 members in 1,877 congregations.
Mennonite Church USA was the second-largest conference three years ago, but its 103,245 reported members — which includes church plants — is now also behind the Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Churches in India, with 103,488, and Mennonite Communion of Congo, with 110,000.
The six countries with the most members remained the same in an order unchanged, led by the United States with 391,900 — an increase of 1.2 percent. The countries in the top six with the largest gains were third-place Ethiopia and fifth-place Indonesia. Ethiopia added 52,101 to grow by 30.2 percent, and Indonesia grew by 22.7 percent with 20,070. India was the only country to report a loss, reporting 4.5 percent fewer members.
Not all churches in the census are MWC members. Churches are included if they are rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite stream of church history or have direct fellowship with churches that are so rooted. Baptized members in MWC member churches increased 9.3 percent from 1,176,728 to 1,286,426.
The directory is available via MWC’s website.
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