Lutherans Report Global Membership Increase, Western Decrease

The Lutheran World Federation reported membership increase in the last year to just under 66.7 million.

In the latest report, member churches in 78 countries registered a growth of around 0.71 percent for 2005-2006, which amounts to 467,551 additional members.

The largest contribution to the membership rise comes from Asia which is now at 8.2 million members. Most Lutherans in Asia belong to LWF member churches. At the same time, LWF membership in Europe dropped by over 565,000 to approximately 37.4 million.

Lutheran churches in general rose to just over 70.2 million members, a growth of roughly 0.63 percent. Non-LWF Lutheran churches, however, dropped by 0.7 percent to over 3.51 million, the report stated.

While Germany maintains the largest number of Lutheran Christians in the world, numbers continued to decline. The total number dropped by 1.39 percent to over 12.73 million in 2006. In 2005, Lutheran church membership dropped from 13.1 million to 12.9 million.

Similarly, Lutheran Christians in North America decreased approximately 1.41 percent to just over 8 million. Those in the LWF (approximately 5 million) saw a 1.73 percent drop. The second largest LWF member church - the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - accounted for 4.85 million members with an approximately 1.6 percent drop in 2006.

Meanwhile, Africa continues to see increases in membership. Over the past year, Membership in Lutheran churches grew 1.47 percent to over 15.25 million. The previous year, the number had grown 1.48 percent.

Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced slight increases over the years. The general Lutheran church membership in the last year grew 0.57 percent to over 1.11 million. LWF reported slight growth by 0.75 percent to 841,760.

The Lutheran World Federation has 140 member churches, 10 congregations and one recognized council in 78 countries. The latest membership statistics are based on information received from the LWF member churches, recognized congregations and council, as well as from other Lutheran churches, organizations, mission bodies and congregations.

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