A NEWS RELEASE
From Lutheran World Information
GENEVA, 6 March 2007 (LWI) -- The total membership of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches rose last year by 467,551 to just under 66.7 million (66,681,599). According to the latest LWF statistics, the LWF’s 140 member churches, ten congregations and one recognized council in 78 countries registered a growth of around 0.71 percent for the period 2005-2006. The LWF member churches around the world totaled some 66.2 million members in 2005 and 65.9 million in 2004.
The increase mainly reflects the development among LWF member churches in Asia, which together had an additional 900,000 members over the past year to reach 8.2 million. During the same period, the membership of churches in Europe dropped by over 566,000 to approximately 37.43 million.
The total membership of Lutheran churches worldwide rose by 442,829 to just over 70.2 million (70,200,399), an increase of roughly 0.63 percent. In 2005, the world’s Lutheran churches accounted for some 69.76 million members, up from 69.53 million in 2004. The number of Lutherans in non-LWF Lutheran churches fell by 24,722 or 0.7 percent, to 3,518,800.
Nearly 900,000 New Members in Asia
In 2006, the number of Lutherans in Asia rose by 897,345, an increase of roughly 12.1 percent. Of the total 8,314,337 members of Lutheran churches in Asia, 8,174,160 belonged to LWF member churches, an increase of 893,847 or 12.3 percent.
Asia’s largest Lutheran church, the Protestant Christian Batak Church (Indonesia), saw a 25-percent growth in its membership last year, which expanded by 750,000 to reach 3.75 million.
The Asian church with the highest percentage growth last year was the Lanka Lutheran Church in Sri Lanka, whose membership more than quadrupled, rising by 4,124 members or 344 percent, to 5,324.
The membership of the India Evangelical Lutheran Church increased by 41.6 percent to the current 80,000. The Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia registered an additional 99,715 members or 39 percent to reach 355,316. The Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church had 6,105 more members, raising the total to 23,000. The Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore had a 14.5 percent increase, totaling 8,750, while the Bangladesh Lutheran Church increased by 12.5 percent to reach 4,500 members. The Hong Kong and Macau Lutheran Church registered a 10.2 percent decline for a total of 2,217 members.
Membership in Europe Falls by More Than 566,000
Lutheran church membership in Europe fell last year by 566,343 or approximately 1.49 percent, to 37,469,585. Membership in European LWF member churches fell by 565,669, also 1.49 percent to reach 37,429,405.
The Church of Sweden, the world’s largest Lutheran church, accounted for 6,895,840 members in 2006, a decrease of 99,160 or 1.4 percent. The world’s third largest Lutheran church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, saw its membership decrease by 15,999 to reach 4,556,612. Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, the fourth largest LWF member church, rose by 6,941 or 0.15 percent to 4,506,442. The Church of Norway registered an increase of 8,098 to reach 3,939,044.
Among European churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia saw the greatest percentage loss in its membership, with 4,000 fewer members or a 25 percent decrease to reach 12,000.
The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church lost 38,000 members or 19 percent, with its total membership decreasing to 162,000. Membership in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands fell by 230,000 or 9 percent, to 2.3 million.
In the Czech Republic, the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession saw a decrease of 5,000 members or roughly 14.3 percent, to 30,000, while membership in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren fell by 7,656, around 6.7 percent, to 106,789. A non-LWF member church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England lost around 14.4 percent of its membership to reach a total of 1,500.
Membership in the Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein rose by 517 or 10.6 percent, to 5,370.
Declining Membership in Germany
The total number of Lutheran Christians in Germany was 12,732,991 in 2006, a loss of 179,110 or 1.39 percent. In 2005, the country’s Lutheran churches accounted for a total of 12.9 million members, down from 13.1 million in 2004. Germany continues to be the country with the largest number of Lutheran Christians in the world.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Germany’s largest Lutheran church, reported 3,045,354 members, reflecting a decrease of 27,268 or roughly 0.9 percent.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria counted 2,640,724 members after a decrease of 59,276 or 2.2 percent. The Evangelical Church in Wuerttemberg reported a decrease of 24,014 or around 1 percent, to 2,322,865. The North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church was down by 19,140 members to 2,109,960, for a decrease of roughly 0.9 percent.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony registered 833,826 members, down by 9,470 or 1.1 percent. Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia fell by 18,371 or 4 percent, to 440,629, while the Evangelical Church of Pomerania lost 2.7 percent of its membership, falling by 2,836 to reach 103,751. Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg fell by 4,455, around 2.1 percent, to 208,000.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick had a 1.2 percent decrease in membership last year, dropping by 4,886 to reach 405,614, while membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe declined by 950 members or 1.5 percent, to 61,350. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg reported a decrease of 7,023 members to reach 463,448 for a loss of roughly 1.5 percent.
Lutheran Churches in Africa Continue to Grow
Over the past year, Africa’s Lutheran churches saw their membership grow by 220,820 to a total of 15,258,892, for an increase of 1.47 percent. The LWF member churches in Africa gained 221,648 members in 2006, an increase of 1.48 percent, to reach a total of 15,202,823.
The Lutheran Church of Rwanda saw the largest percentage growth, with its membership rising by 15,480 or roughly 77.4 percent, to 35,480. Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique’s rose by 1,414 to 7,401, an increase of 23.6 percent. The Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church - up by 6,000 to 36,000 members - and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone - up by 500 to 3,000 members - each recorded a 20 percent increase.
The largest LWF member church in Africa, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, registered 187,889 new members, an increase of 4.36 percent to reach 4,500,296.
Membership remained stable in Africa’s second largest Lutheran church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, at 3.5 million members, and in the Malagasy Lutheran Church, the continent’s third largest Lutheran church, at 3 million.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana’s membership decreased last year by 4,400 or 16.7 percent, to 22,000. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Togo, which does not belong to the LWF, also saw a drop in its membership by 834 or 12.4 percent, to 5,920.
Latin American Membership Figures Rise Slightly
Last year, the Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean reported an increase of 6,300 in their total membership or approximately 0.57 percent to reach 1,118,247. This increase reflects a slight growth in the region’s LWF member churches, whose total membership rose by 6,300 to 841,760, for an increase of 0.75 percent.
While most Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean did not report any new membership figures last year, the region’s largest Lutheran church, the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, reported an increase of 7,821 members or 1.1 percent to reach 719,756.
The Lutheran Costarican Church reported 1,324 members last year, reflecting a rise of 75 members or around 6 percent. The Lutheran Church in Chile saw a 1,560 membership decrease or some 13.2 percent to reach 10,240.
Lutheran Church Membership in North America Down by Over 100,000
In 2006, the Lutheran churches in North America reported a total membership decrease of 115,293, a drop of approximately 1.41 percent. Of a total 8,039,338 Lutherans, 5,033,451 belonged to LWF member churches. Those churches in North America belonging to the LWF lost 88,575 members or 1.73 percent.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the second largest LWF member church, accounted for 4,850,776 members in 2006, reflecting a loss of 79,653 or approximately 1.6 percent.
The Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Diaspora (USA) recorded a significant loss in its membership, which fell by 1,400 or 48.3 percent, to 1,500.
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (USA and Canada), which is not an LWF member church, reported 2,440,864 members, for a decrease of 22,883 or 0.9 percent. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod, another non-LWF member, saw its membership drop by 3,500 or 14.6 percent, to 20,500.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada registered 174,555 members in 2006, which reflected a reduction of 7,522 or roughly 4.1 percent. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (Canada) remained stable at 6,620 members. (1,474 words)
The LWF membership statistics are based on information received from the LWF member churches, recognized congregations and council, as well as from other Lutheran churches, organizations, mission bodies and congregations. The figures recorded for the year ending 2005 were used for churches that did not indicate any changes by the end of January 2007.
The statistics in detail will be printed in Lutheran World Information (LWI) No. 01/2007.
A one-page summary of the 2006 LWF Statistics is posted in PDF format on the LWF Web site under: www.lutheranworld.org/LWF_Documents/LWF-Statistics-01-2006.pdf Full details can be found under: www.lutheranworld.org/LWF_Documents/LWF-Statistics-2006.pdf
For further information, please contact the LWF Office for Communication Services at:
Tel.: +41/22-791 63 69
Fax: +41/22-791 66 30
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(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of nearly 66.7 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)
[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF’s information service. Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]
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