Saturday, September 22, 2007

Whistling Past the Graveyard

The Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.), of which I am a former member (it was the United Presbyterian Church back then) has suddenly come to the realization that something is wrong with itself. When I was a child it had a membership of more than 4 million and now has a membership of just under 2.3 million. So, I would have to agree with their assessment. In the below quoted article Joan Gray, moderator of the General Assembly during a Sept. 17-21 GAC (General Assembly Council) meeting in Louisville, Ky. says, "I recently spent time in the Midwest, and these areas are drying up. The people are not there any more. In Detroit, 3,000 people a day are leaving to emigrate elsewhere. That is just the tip of the iceberg.”

'Tsunami' Hits Presbyterians; Dramatic Changes Ahead
The PC(USA) has suffered continual losses in membership and now claims a little less than 2.3 million. More dissident Presbyterians and some historic congregations have voted to split from the PC(USA), citing that the denomination is not consistent with written theology in such areas as the singular saving Lordship of Jesus Christ and homosexual ordination.

Many are moving into the smaller and more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

“Much of our discomfort is really about our coming to grips with the overwhelming change that is coming at us from all sides. The bottom line is that we simply cannot continue doing church the way we have been," said Gray, according to PNS.

"One thing I am seeing is that some of those churches and presbyteries who have come to the end of the string are making a choice,” she added. “They are letting go of what they had been doing and opening the way to what God is doing.”
The people are voting with their feet and going to churches that really do believe in the Holy (triune) God and in Jesus the Christ who was both fully God and fully Man - yes, orthodox Christianity. Many like myself have come to the Holy Orthodox Church, to the Catholic Church, or to other believing churches as mentioned in the article. Sadly, many others find that there is no point to membership in a church that doesn't teach that its beliefs are actually true and abandon Christianity. The children of many Presbyterian (and other liberal churches) do not continue church membership.

Look again at the table that is linked above;

% Change : Church
-57.6% : American Baptist Association
-56.4% : Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
-30.7% : Churches of Christ
-32.6% : Episcopal Church
-21.1% : Presbyterian Church (USA)
-35.9% : United Church of Christ
-23.6% : United Methodist Church

Granted, there are a couple of cases where conservative churches have lost members, but I believe that there were other factors at work in those cases. Also granted, the biggest gains have been for some very heterodox churches, most notably the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (3233.3%).

More regularly;
188% : Antiochan Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
188% : Armenian Orthodox Church of America
109.1% : Church of the Nazarene
25.0% : Greek Orthodox Diocese of North and South America
32.5% : Orthodox Church in America
57.7% : Roman Catholic Church

Yet, all Joan Gray can bring herself to say is that "change" is occurring.


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