Well, 'tis convention season. (On of the reasons I'm preaching at the Swedenborgians next week is that their convention starts next week.) Next up: the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Some how I missed the news of their huge hit in membership when it came out earlier this month.
According to statistics released by the Office of the General Assembly, communicant membership at the end of 2003 totaled 2,405,311 a decline of 46,658 from 2002. The combined membership of the former United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America and the former Presbyterian Church in the United States at the time of reunion was 4.2 million.
General Assembly Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, in an op-ed in The Presbyterian Outlook, said the ongoing membership decline should call us to prayer and repentance and said hes convinced God wants us to be a growing church.
Repentence the solution? Sheesh, how post-WWII Presbyterian can you get? Assuming they survive, of course. In a year, they lost a third as many members as the UUA has. That's can't last forever.
But as Larry Ladd points out in the current UUA annual report (and what I pointed out, dear readers, earlier this year) is that the UUA didn't grow this year, and lost numbers (the ill-described "market share") against population growth.
Methinks Universalist theology has something to add here: action which comes out of understanding, and is powered towards common action. So I'm watching the Commission on Appraisal and its early reporting this year. Nothing on that so far on the UUA GA website. But we live in hope.