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New Church Yearbook Reveals Trends in American Denominations

Pentecostal, nondenominational, and ethnic churches are rising in membership while America’s historic mainline churches are continuing to decline.

New Church Yearbook Reveals Trends in American Denominations

WASHINGTON – Pentecostal, nondenominational, and ethnic churches are rising in membership while America’s historic mainline churches are continuing to decline, according to the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Among the largest 25 churches in the United States, the fastest growing were the Assemblies of God at 1.81 percent growth rate, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) at 1.74 percent, and the Roman Catholic Church at 0.83 percent. Furthermore, the yearbook found that only three mainline churches guarded their historic spots as the nation’s largest churches; All three churches – the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. – declined in membership since last year.

Such findings are not new. Similar figures and conclusions were drawn throughout the past decade as more Americans began flocking toward non-denominational and evangelical churches.

This year’s findings also spotlighted a new trend among churches and pastors. Blogs – online journals – are an increasingly popular medium used by the emergent churches. Examples of EC pioneers are Brian McLaren, founder of Cedar Ridge Community Church near Washington, and Spencer Burke, founder of The Ooze (http://theooze.com), "dedicated to the emerging Church culture."

"Blogs are particularly well-suited to communicating a nuanced religious viewpoint and fostering thoughtful conversation," said the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lidner, editor of the 89-year-old annual publication since 1998.

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