Lutherans Worldwide See Gain of 1.5M Members

The Lutheran World Federation added more than 1.5 million new members to its member churches last year, according to the latest report.

Membership gains in Africa and Asia contributed to the approximately 2.3 percent increase, bringing the total to just over 70 million for the first time.

LWF churches in Africa saw the largest increase with the addition of more than 1.2 million members. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania is the largest LWF member church on the continent with currently 5.3 million members and the second largest LWF church in the world after Church of Sweden, which has 6.75 million members.

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is the third largest LWF member church.

Significant increases in membership were also seen in Asia, particularly in India and Indonesia.

Europe also saw a slight increase of 0.7 percent.

Though Sweden is the world's largest LWF church, it experienced a decline in member by one percent last year. The highest percentage of membership loss in Europe was recorded by the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, Czech Republic.

Churches in Latin America and the Caribbean also experienced a slight decline.

In North America, LWF membership fell by 1.95 percent to 4.78 million. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the LWF's fourth largest member church, reported a decrease of 1.8 percent.

Total membership of Lutheran churches worldwide (including non-LWF members) rose by 2.5 percent to just under 73.8 million.

The LWF membership statistics are based on information received from the LWF member churches, recognized churches and congregations and council, as well as from other Lutheran churches, organizations, mission bodies and congregations.