Church Donations Dwindled, Membership Grew Steadily in 2010

Annual church donations were down by $1.2 billion in 2010, a recent report revealed, bearing witness to the ongoing financial problems hitting congregations and the U.S. economy. However, the same report also revealed that church membership remained steady, with the Assemblies of God registering the biggest increase in members among Protestant denominations. 

The 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches revealed that total donations to churches from all denominations in 2010 reached $29 billion, or $763 per capita. Between 2008 and 2009, donations dropped by $431 million, marking the heavy impact of the financial meltdown. The year 2010 was the second consecutive year that relfected a downward trend, The Associated Press reports.

Despite, or even because of, economic problems, churches still recorded a steady growth in terms of membership. Leading the way as the largest religious group in America, the Roman Catholic Church reported 68.2 million members, although it had a growth rate of less than one percent in 2010. Pentecostal denomination the Assemblies of God grew by nearly four percent to pass the three million members 2010.

The second biggest group was the evangelical Southern Baptist Convention, with 16.1 million members, a small decline in membership for the fourth year in a row.

In terms of big drop rates, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was down by 5.9 percent to 4.3 million members. Besides the Assemblies of God, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church, also reported a 1.6 percent increase, to 6.2 million members for 2010.

The 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches claims to include the most accurate statistical data on giving, membership and personnel for major church groups.

The statistics were collected with the help of the National Council of Churches, based in New York, which is an ecumenical group that includes Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox Christian denominations.

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