Yearbook reports Church of the Brethren denominational statistics for 2022

By Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Church of the Brethren membership in the United States in 2022 was 81,345, according to the statistical report in the 2023 Church of the Brethren Yearbook, published by Brethren Press. The 2023 edition–published late last year–includes the 2022 statistical report and the 2023 directory for the denomination.

This is the most recent official reporting of denominational statistics including statistics on congregations, districts, Annual Conference agencies, church-related colleges and universities, and Bethany Theological Seminary. The directory includes listings and contact information for congregations, districts, ministers, and more. Other denominations that are part of the Global Church of the Brethren Communion are not included in the Yearbook.

The statistical section relies on self-reporting by local worshiping communities (congregations, fellowships, and new church projects), which means Yearbook figures are approximate. The 2022 statistics reflect reporting by 385 local worshiping communities, or 45 percent of the total churches in the denomination. Numbers for non-reporting churches are taken from the last year that they reported.

Church of the Brethren congregations and districts have received this year’s Yearbook forms by mail. Forms are due April 15 for congregations, and April 5 for districts.

The Church of the Brethren Yearbook is published annually by Brethren Press in searchable PDF format, find out more at www.brethren.org/yearbook. The 2023 Yearbook may be purchased for $28.99 at www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=1654.

Please note that since the 2023 Yearbook was finalized for publication, the six congregations in Puerto Rico District, representing some 340 members, withdrew from the Church of the Brethren (see the full article at https://www.brethren.org/news/2024/withdrawal-of-p-r-congregations/). The 2022 statistics include those six churches, and Puerto Rico is included in the 24 districts listed in the 2023 Yearbook.

Numbers for 2022

The Yearbook reported 81,345 members in 24 districts and 857 local worshiping communities (823 congregations, 22 fellowships, and 12 new church projects) in 2022. This represents a net loss of 5,836 members over 2021. Average worship attendance for the denomination was reported as 20,733.

Shenandoah District, with 12,096 members, continued to be the largest district in the Church of the Brethren. The next top 5 districts by membership were Atlantic Northeast, with 8,768 members; Mid-Atlantic, with 7,980 members; Virlina, with 7,964 members; Middle Pennsylvania, with 6,539 members; and Western Pennsylvania, with 5,235 members. No other districts reported more than 4,000 members in 2022.

The two largest districts also reported the largest membership losses in 2022: Atlantic Northeast reported the loss of 1,733 members, and Shenandoah reported the loss of 1,112 members. No other districts reported losing more than 1,000 members.

Of the smaller districts, 6 had total memberships of less than 1,000 in 2022: Idaho and Western Montana, Missouri and Arkansas, Pacific Northwest, Southeastern, Southern Plains, and Puerto Rico.

Four districts reported small increases in membership: South-Central Indiana gained 19 members, Atlantic Southeast gained 10, Missouri and Arkansas gained 9, and Pacific Southwest gained 8.

Five districts reported having more than 50 local worshiping communities in 2022 (no inactive churches and no meeting points are included in these numbers):
— Shenandoah reported having 92 local worshiping communities (down from 96 reported in 2021).
— Virlina reported 88 (down from 90 in 2021).
— Atlantic Northeast reported 67 (down from 68 in 2021).
— Mid-Atlantic reported 58 (down from 59 in 2021).
— Middle Pennsylvania reported 54 (an increase of 1 over the 53 reported in 2021).

Western Pennsylvania, which reported 53 local worshiping communities in 2021, fell to 49 in 2022.

Comparisons over the years

The statistical report includes a comparison of total denominational membership over 5 years, from 2018 to 2022:

— In 2018, denominational membership was 104,446, representing a net loss of 4,813 over 2017.

— In 2019, denominational membership was 98,680, representing a net loss of 5,766 over 2018.

— In 2020, denominational membership was 91,608, representing a net loss of 7,072 over 2019.

— In 2021, denominational membership was 87,181, representing a net loss of 4,427 over 2020.

— In 2022, denominational membership was 81,345, representing a net loss of 5,836 over 2021.

To compare denominational membership over 15 years, for 2008 the Yearbook reported a total membership of 124,408–the first time since the 1920s that Church of the Brethren membership fell below 125,000. In 2008, 66.2 percent of congregations reported (www.brethren.org/news/2009/newsline-for-june-3-2009).

A comparison of the total number of local worshiping communities, from 2018 to 2022:

— In 2018, the total number of local worshiping communities was 994 (953 congregations, 33 fellowships, 8 new church projects), representing a net loss of 5 over the previous year.

— In 2019, the total was 978 (935 congregations, 33 fellowships, 10 new church projects), a net loss of 16.

— In 2020, the total was 915 (874 congregations, 29 fellowships, 12 new church projects), a net loss of 63.

— In 2021, the total was 887 (852 congregations, 23 fellowships, 12 new church projects), a net loss of 28.

— In 2022, the total was 857 (823 congregations, 22 fellowships, and 12 new church projects), a net loss of 30.

The loss of local worshiping communities represents those that have become inactive or have been closed (usually because of insurmountable membership losses or financial difficulties) and those that have left the denomination. While a number of withdrawing congregations have joined a split-off group, others have gone independent.

— Yearbook staff James Miner contributed to this report. Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.


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