PCUSA to add 'nonbinary/genderqueer' category to official Church statistics      

The Presbyterian Center, headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA), located in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Presbyterian Center, headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA), located in Louisville, Kentucky. | PCUSA Office of the General Assembly

The Presbyterian Church (USA) said it will be adding a “nonbinary/genderqueer” category to its annual reports.

PCUSA's Office of the General Assembly announced Tuesday that it was making a host of changes to how it reports denominational statistics on membership and the number of congregations.

Starting with next year’s statistics, the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States will add a nonbinary/genderqueer category, alongside the traditional men and women categories.

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Kris Valerius, manager of denominational roles and statistics, said if they “want to be inclusive, then we have to start asking because you should be aware of who’s a part of your church.”

“We’ll have the same categories, we’re just not defining them any longer, which may upset people. The information will be there ­— we’re just removing the definitions,” she added.

“For instance, we’ve always asked how many female members there are in the church. We’re now asking how many men, women and nonbinary/genderqueer members there are. We’ve never asked that question so we don’t know how many people will fill it out.”

Other changes include altering the finance section, adding an age category to count how many members are 17 or 18, eliminating definitions from the ethnic and racial sections, and removing the Christian education section.

“Statistics paint the picture of who we are as a denomination. It’s not just statistics, it’s ministers, churches, it is who we are at this particular time,” Valerius said.

As with other Christian denominations, the PCUSA has seen considerable decline in both its number of active members and the number of member congregations.

Earlier this year, for example, PCUSA reported that it had lost more than 51,000 members in 2021, along with over 100 congregations, and even four regional bodies, or presbyteries.

The most recent numbers for the denomination record that it has around 1.1 million active members and 8,813 member congregations, with 166 presbyteries.

By contrast, in 2012, the PCUSA reported having 1.84 million members (or over 700,000 more than at present) and 10,262 member congregations (or around 1,400 more than at present).

One factor contributing to this decline has been the PCUSA’s increased acceptance of homosexuality, which has driven hundreds of member congregations to leave the mainline Protestant denomination.

In 2012, a theologically conservative Presbyterian denomination known as ECO, or a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, was founded a couple of years after the PCUSA voted to allow the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.

In 2016, ECO reached the 300-member congregation milestone, with the vast majority of their churches having previously belonged to PCUSA.

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