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 2013 edition of Comparative Statistics.
- 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 2013 (our most recent data), there were 10,038 congregations and 1,760,200 members in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — a net loss of 89,296 members from 2012 (-4.8 percent) and a net loss of 224 congregations.
2. What has been the membership change over the last 10 years?
In 2003, the PC(USA) reported 2,405,311 members, so the current membership reflects a net loss of 645,111 members, or about 26.8 percent, over the last 10 years. There were 11,064 congregations in 2003, 1,026 more than in 2013.
3. What is the size of the average Presbyterian church?
Presbyterian churches tend to be small. Three-fourths (77 percent) have 200 or fewer members. The average, or mean, size of a Presbyterian church is 175 members. The median size is 87.
Eight in ten (82 percent) have 250 or fewer members. More than half (55 percent) have 100 or fewer.
4. What is the largest Presbyterian church? What is the largest presbytery?
The largest Presbyterian church in 2013 was Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga., with 7,066 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. Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Ill. (with 5,540 members) moved from third place to second place in 2012. Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minn. (with 5,421 members) dropped from being the second largest congregation in 2012 to the third largest congregation. All three top congregations increased their memberships. Highland Park in Dallas, Texas, Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, and Myers Park in Charlotte, NC retained their fourth, fifth, and sixth place positions with 4,896, and 4,789, and 4,554 members, respectively. Village added 29 members while Myers Park grew by 119 members. The seventh largest congregation was First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. with 4,316 members. First PC in Nashville first appeared in the top fifteen in 2006 as the fourteenth largest congregation and became the eighth largest in 2012. White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, NC with 4,121 members continued to climb up the list—from the 12th position in 2011 to the tenth position in 2012—to the eighth position in 2013. Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN with 4,049 members retained the ninth position. Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas with 3,461 members dropped from the seventh position to round out the top ten congregations. Eight of the top ten congregations increased their membership. Memorial Drive suffered the greatest loss, having lost 22% of their membership.
In terms of membership, Greater Atlanta Presbytery is the largest presbytery. With 39,432 members it is larger than three of the PC(USA)'s synods. Grace is in second place with 39,281 members. The largest synod is the Synod of Mid-Atlantic with 266,624 members.
5. What is the average worship attendance?
On an average Sunday in 2013, the number in attendance at worship in the average congregation was equal to about half of the congregation's membership. Worship attendance is higher in smaller congregations. In congregations with 100 or fewer members, average worship attendance is 67 percent of membership; in congregations with between 101 and 250 members, average attendance is 54 percent of membership; and in the largest congregations (with over 250 members), average worship attendance is 44 percent of membership. Overall, the average, or mean, number in worship was 97 in 2013; the median was 56.
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 (173,946 members or 10 percent of the denomination's membership) followed by North Carolina (136,556 or 8 percent) and California (118,152 or 7 percent). The least densely Presbyterian-populated states are both located in the northeast. They are Maine (385 members or less than 0.05 percent of the denomination's membership) and Vermont (587 or less than 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 (91.3 percent). Other racial-ethnic groups for which data are collected by the PC(USA) are Asian (2.7 percent), Black (1.1 percent), Hispanic (1.5 percent), Native American (0.2 percent), and an "other" category (0.4 percent). Three new racial-ethnic categories were added in 2011: African (0.5 percent), African American (2.1 percent), and Middle-Eastern (0.1 percent).
The race-ethnicity of active teaching elders is similar. The second largest group, other than those who are White, is Asian (6 percent). In addition, 3 percent of teaching elders are Black, 2 percent are Hispanic, 0.2 percent are Native American, and 0.5 percent are other. Ruling elders and deacons follow a similar pattern, with deacons being the most likely group to have someone of color (15 percent). About 10 percent of ruling elders are people of color.
There were a total of 20,562 ministers in 2013; 12,461 active and 8,101 retired. Of active ministers, approximately 36 percent are female (4,476). The table shows the distribution of active ministers by occupational code and sex.
Number and Percent of Active PC(USA) Ministers by Call
9. What is the average contribution per member?
Total contributions for 2013 were $1,846,740,554, a loss of $64,055,081 (3.4 percent) over 2012. The average contribution per member in reporting congregations was $1,211.46. The synod with the highest per member giving for 2013 was Alaska Northwest; the synod's 37,761 reporting members contributed a total of $73,708,131 averaging about $1,951.96 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 2013 (coming soon).
Have a question you don't see here? Email Ida Smith.
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 2011 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
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I think the general reason reason for both questions is that the PCUSA has been loosing membership since 1965 and is now a shadow of it's former self. To attempt to stem the mass exodus it has begun making broad general interpretations to appeal to a broader segment of the population instead of remaining true to Biblical teachings. There are so many new viewpoints being pushed that many of the older more conservative members and congregations are fed up and leaving for the PCA and ECO. I am not an expert, but that's what I see happening in our PCUSA church and that's just my opinion. And I think that's the answer to both of the above questions.
Given that since the UN approval for Israel, the Arab states have started wars, bombed civilians on a constant basis at events such as Jewish weddings, kipnapped children, taught their children to hate Jews, and in general called for the destruction of Israel, on what basis have you decided that Israel does not have the right to self-defense? You boycott implies blame for the sovereign state of Israel that is trying to keep the Hamas murderers under control.
Mr or Ms Retta, as the moderator of this discussion area, I am allowing your question because it is a good question. However, I am not a minister; I am a researcher. This is a research site, not intended to deal with theological answers. There are probably other places that are more appropriate for this conversation, as I don't know how many people will be viewing your question. Most sincerely, Deborah Coe, Ph.D.
Dear Ministers, On what biblical teaching that your church permitted Gay Marriage? Hopping to hear your prompt response! Regards Kibatu Retta