The Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions
about the PC(USA)
We are asked many questions about the denomination. Brief answers to some of the more frequent questions are presented below. More details can be found by viewing the 2011 edition of Comparative Statistics (forthcoming).
- How many members and how many congregations do we have?
- What has been the membership change over the last 10 years?
- What is the size of the average Presbyterian church?
- What is the largest Presbyterian church? What is the largest presbytery?
- What is the average worship attendance?
- Where do Presbyterians live?
- What is the racial-ethnic makeup of the church? How diverse are we?
- How many ordained women are there? How many serve churches?
- What is the average contribution per member?
- How does my congregation compare to others in the denomination?
1. How many members and how many congregations do we have?
At the end of 2011 (our most recent data), there were 10,466 congregations and 1,952,287 members in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — a net loss of 63,804 members from 2010 (-3.2 percent) and a net loss of 94 congregations.
2. What has been the membership change over the last 10 years?
In 2001, the PC(USA) reported 2,493,781 members, so the current membership reflects a net loss of 541,494 members, or about 21.7 percent, over the last 10 years. There were 11,141 congregations in 2001, 675 more than in 2011.
3. What is the size of the average Presbyterian church?
Presbyterian churches tend to be small. Three-fourths (75 percent) have 200 or fewer members. The average, or mean, size of a Presbyterian church is 187 members. The median size is 93.
Eight in ten (80 percent) have 250 or fewer members. More than half (53 percent) have 100 or fewer.
4. What is the largest Presbyterian church? What is the largest presbytery?
The largest Presbyterian church in 2011 was Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga., with 8,675 members. Although Peachtree has been among the three largest membership congregations since reunion in 1983, it became the largest congregation in 1988 and has not budged from that position. Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minn. (with 5,541 members) moved up to the second largest congregation, while Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Ill. (with 5,438 members) dropped from second to third place having lost 754 members or 12.2%. Highland Park in Dallas, Texas and Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kan.retained their fourth and fifth place positions with 4,854 and 4,829 members, respectively. Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas with 4,343 members moves up from the ninth largest church to number six for 2011. Myers Park in Charlotte, N.C. with 4,325 members stayed at number seven. First Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas, falls from the sixth largest in 2010 to the eighth largest in 2011, with 4,300 members. First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. with 4,206 members drops from eighth position to ninth position for 2011. Menlo Park in Menlo Park, Calif., with 4,125 members, rounds out the top 10 congregations.
In terms of membership, Greater Atlanta Presbytery is the largest presbytery. With 43,690 members it is larger than three of the PC(USA)'s synods. Grace is in second place with 41,511 members. The largest synod is the Synod of Mid-Atlantic with 285,132 members.
5. What is the average worship attendance?
On an average Sunday in 2011, the number in attendance at worship in the average congregation was equal to about half of the congregation's membership (53 percent). Worship attendance is higher in smaller congregations. In congregations with 100 or fewer members, average worship attendance is 70 percent of membership; in congregations with between 101 and 250 members, average attendance is 59 percent of membership; and in the largest congregations (with over 250 members), average worship attendance is 47 percent of membership. Overall, the average, or mean, number in worship was 109 in 2011; the median was 61.
6. Where do Presbyterians live?
Presbyterians are scattered in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. On a relative basis, the largest concentration is in Pennsylvania (195,221 members or 10 percent of the denomination's membership) followed by North Carolina (147,384 or 7.5 percent) and California (135,393 or 6.9 percent). The least densely Presbyterian-populated states are both located in the northeast. They are Maine (414 members or less than 0.05 percent of the denomination's membership) and Vermont (604 or less that 0.05 percent).
7. What is the racial-ethnic makeup of the church? How diverse are we?
The PC(USA) is mostly White, and therefore, not very diverse. The majority of the church is White (89 percent). Other racial-ethnic groups for which data are collected by the PC(USA) are Asian (4.1 percent), Black (1.8 percent of all members), Hispanic (1.9 percent) and Native American (0.4 percent). (There is also an "other" category; 0.4 percent.) Three new racial-ethnic categories were added this year: African (0.5 percent), African American (2.0 percent), and Eastern (0.1 percent).
The race-ethnicity of active ministers is similar. The second largest group, other than those who are White, is Asian (3 percent). In addition, 3.5 percent of ministers are Black, 2.4 percent are Hispanic, 0.2 percent are Native American, and 0.7 percent are other. Elders and deacons follow a similar pattern, with deacons being the most likely group to have someone of color (15 percent). About 9.3 percent of elders are people of color.
There were a total of 21,064 ministers in 2011; 13,109 active and 7,955 retired. Of active ministers, approximately 34 percent are female (4,435). The table shows the distribution of active ministers by occupational code and sex.
Number and Percent of Active PC(USA) Ministers by Call
* = less than 0.5 percent; rounds to zero.
9. What is the average contribution per member?
Total contributions for 2011 were $2,003,565,190, a loss of $23,914,012 (1.2 percent) over 2010. The average contribution per member in reporting congregations was $1,169.95. The synod with the highest per member giving for 2011 was Alaska Northwest; the synod's 44,651 reporting members contributed a total of $78,167,739 averaging about $1,750.64 per member.
10. How does my congregation compare to others in the denomination?
To compare characteristics and trends of your congregation with those at the synod, presbytery or national level, see the tables and figures from Comparative Statistics 2011 (coming soon).
Download Comparative Statistics 2011 (coming soon).
Learn more about our Help for Congregations Toolbox for Church Home Improvement Projects including demographics, in-worship surveys and more! Resources for congregational study can be ordered from Research Services, 100 Witherspoon, Louisville KY 40202 or call (888) 728-7228, x2040. Email us with any questions.
See the tables for the 2010 edition of Comparative Statistics
1. PC(USA) Congregations and Membership, 1999 to 2010
2. Distribution of PC(USA) Congregations by Membership Size and Synod, 2010
3. PC(USA) Membership by Region and State/Territory, 2010
4. Membership Gains and Losses of PC(USA) Synods and Presbyteries, 2010
5. Distribution of PC(USA) Congregations with One-Fifth or More Racial-Ethnic Membership by Synod, 2010
6-7. Fifteen Largest PC(USA) Congregations Based on Membership Size, 2010 | Descriptive Statistics for PC(USA) Ministers and Candidates, 2002 to 2010
8. PC(USA) Active Ministers by Call and Synod, 2010
9. Number and Percent of Active PC(USA) Ministers by Call and Gender, 2006 to 2010
10. PC(USA) Membership, Total Individual Contributions, and Expenditures for Local Program and Local Mission by Synod and Presbytery, 2009 and 2010
11-12. PC(USA) Congregational Receipts, 2009 and 2010; PC(USA) Congregational Expenditures, 2009 and 2010
13-14. PC(USA) Synod and Presbytery Rankings Based on Per Member Validated Mission Expenditures, 2010 | Race-Ethnicity and Gender of PC(USA) Members, Elders, Deacons, Active Ministers and Commissioned Lay Pastors, 2010
15. Number of Congregations, How They Are Served, Worship Attendance and Giving Information by Membership Size, 2010
16. Technical Information
Download the entire report