UMC U.S. Conferences Lose 70K Members in 2011

(Photo Credit: United Methodist News Service/Cassandra Zampini)United Methodist deaconess candidates stand during a commissioning service at the Interchurch Centerchapel in New York.

The United Methodist Church's U.S. membership dipped by over 70,000 in 2011, according to a partial report including most of the denomination's U.S. conferences, a figure representing slightly less than 1 percent of the church's membership of 7.6 million in 2009.

The Church's membership in 55 of 59 U.S. Conferences fell by a combined total of 71,971 members in 2011, the United Methodist News Service reported on Thursday.

The figure represents less than 1 percent of its U.S. membership, compared with the most recently available report. In 2011, the denomination reported a 2009 U.S. membership of 7,679,850 members.

The U.S. decline is in line with decreases over the decade before 2009. In 1999, the U.S. membership was 9,665,008, according to the denomination's 2011 "State of the Church" report.

In Thursday's report declines also included drops in other measurements such as worship attendance or church-school participation.

While twenty-eight U.S. conferences reported declines in all three categories. Eighteen saw memberships of drops of 2 percent or more.

Eleven conferences saw an increase in worship attendance and five gained members. Of those only three reported membership and worship growth.

The total membership in the church, including regions outside the United States, was 12,080,360 in 2009. Over the previous 10 years, denomination's membership in Europe also fell while its membership in Africa and the Philippines rose sharply.

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