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Presbyterian Church (USA) is latest denomination to report losing membership, congregations

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the latest denomination to report troubling membership losses. The PCUSA lost approximately 56,000 active members and closed more than 100 congregations in 2020, according to a recent annual report on denominational statistics.

The PCUSA Office of the General Assembly this week released the annual statistics on membership and giving, which included minutes from the 224th General Assembly.

The denomination had approximately 1.2 million active members in 2020, down from 1.3 million in 2019, or a decline of 56,689.The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States also saw a drop in congregations, going from 9,041 in 2019 to 8,925 in 2020.

Although 2020 was a year of pandemic lockdowns, which affected ed churches of all denominations, Presbyterian Church (USA)  losses were comparable to 2019, when the denomination reported losing around 50,000 members and closing 120 congregations. Over the past several years, as with other mainline Protestant denominations, the PCUSA has experienced a considerable decline in membership numbers and congregations.

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The decline in membership comes as data have shown in recent years a decline in Americans who consider themselves Christians and a rise of Americans who consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. Another factor for PCUSA has been the theological direction of the church, as its affirmation of gay clergy led several congregations to leave the denomination in protest in recent years.

The Presbyterian Church (USA)  has openly considered no longer holding its biennial General Assembly as a mass gathering because of financial woes and declining membership. In a statement last August, Stated Clerk Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II attributed this plan to end “the big-tent General Assembly” to declining membership and financial giving.

READ: Southern Baptist denomination sees record drop in members


“That is happening, basically, because we are at a place financially with the drying up of per capita as it is, and the whole system is strained with regard to the fallout in the denomination with membership loss,” he said. “Dealing with the issue that we are not a denomination right now that can afford the kinds of things that we have been doing.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice