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 2012 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 2012 (our most recent data), there were 10,262 congregations and 1,849,496 members in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — a net loss of 102,791 members from 2011 (-5.3 percent) and a net loss of 204 congregations.
2. What has been the membership change over the last 10 years?
In 2002, the PC(USA) reported 2,451,969 members, so the current membership reflects a net loss of 602,473 members, or about 24.6 percent, over the last 10 years. There were 11,097 congregations in 2002, 835 more than in 2012.
3. What is the size of the average Presbyterian church?
Presbyterian churches tend to be small. Three-fourths (76 percent) have 200 or fewer members. The average, or mean, size of a Presbyterian church is 180 members. The median size is 89.
Eight in ten (81 percent) have 250 or fewer members. More than half (54 percent) have 100 or fewer.
4. What is the largest Presbyterian church? What is the largest presbytery?
The largest Presbyterian church in 2012 was Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga., with 6,940 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 5,388 members) moved up to the second largest congregation in 2011 and has stayed there. Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Ill. (with 5,251 members) which dropped from second to third place in 2011, remained the third larges congregation in 2012. Highland Park in Dallas, Texas and Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas retained their fourth and fifth place positions with 4,896 and 4,760 members, respectively. Highland Park actually grew by 42 members. Village also increased its membership by 57 members. Myers Park in Charlotte, N.C. with 4,435 members surpassed Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas with 4,417 members to take the sixth position. First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn. with 4,256 members moved up from ninth position in 2011 to the eighth position. Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN with 4,068 members moved up from the 11th position in 2011 to the ninth position. White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, N.C. with 3,996 members moved up from the 12th position to round out the top ten congregations. Falling out of 2011's top 10 list were First Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas with 3,567 members (losing 733 members) and Menlo Park in Menlo Park, Calif., with 3,382 (losing 743 members).
In terms of membership, Greater Atlanta Presbytery is the largest presbytery. With 41,082 members it is larger than three of the PC(USA)'s synods. Grace is in second place with 40,495 members. The largest synod is the Synod of Mid-Atlantic with 278,008 members.
5. What is the average worship attendance?
On an average Sunday in 2012, the number in attendance at worship in the average congregation was equal to about half of the congregation's membership (51 percent). Worship attendance is higher in smaller congregations. In congregations with 100 or fewer members, average worship attendance is 69 percent of membership; in congregations with between 101 and 250 members, average attendance is 57 percent of membership; and in the largest congregations (with over 250 members), average worship attendance is 46 percent of membership. Overall, the average, or mean, number in worship was 103 in 2012; the median was 60.
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 (186,422 members or 10 percent of the denomination's membership) followed by North Carolina (142,237 or 8 percent) and California (127,045 or 6.9 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 (609 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 (90.2 percent). Other racial-ethnic groups for which data are collected by the PC(USA) are Asian (3.8 percent), Black (1.3 percent of all members), Hispanic (1.6 percent) and Native American (0.3 percent). (There is also an "other" category; 0.3 percent.) Three new racial-ethnic categories were added last year: African (0.4 percent), African American (2.0 percent), andMiddle-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 (7 percent). In addition, 3.5 percent of ministers are Black, 2.5 percent are Hispanic, 0.2 percent are Native American, and 0.8 percent are other. Ruling elders and deacons follow a similar pattern, with deacons being the most likely group to have someone of color (17 percent). About 10 percent of ruling elders are people of color.
There were a total of 20,849 ministers in 2012; 12,807 active and 8,042 retired. Of active ministers, approximately 35 percent are female (4,464). 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 2012 were $1,910,795,635, a loss of $92,769,555 (4.9 percent) over 2011. The average contribution per member in reporting congregations was $1,207.08. The synod with the highest per member giving for 2012 was Alaska Northwest; the synod's 42,457 reporting members contributed a total of $77,053,385 averaging about $1,814.86 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 2012 (coming soon).
Download Comparative Statistics 2012 (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 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
Download the entire report