NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Membership in Southern Baptist churches continued to climb toward the 16 million mark in 2000, with an increase of 108,552 bringing the total number of members to an all-time high of 15,960,308.
While the increase of 0.68 percent was less than the 0.78 percent gain of 122,400 members in 1999, the 2000 total surpasses the previous all-time high of 15,891,514 members reported in 1997, according to figures from the Annual Church profile (ACP).
The ACP is compiled by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention from church reports routed through local Baptist associations and state conventions.
Total baptisms surpassed 400,000 for the fourth consecutive year, although the 2000 total of 414,657 entailed 4,685 fewer, or 1.12 percent less than the growth in 1999.
Sunday school enrollment increased by 38,958 or 0.48 percent in 2000 to a total of 8,186,415, following a 0.01 percent decrease in 1999.
Increases in Discipleship Training and men/boys mission education enrollment were significant, due in part to an increased number of state conventions reporting in these categories. Discipleship gained 232,118 participants, an 11.75 percent increase, for a total of 2,208,427. Men/boys mission education gained 9.52 percent or 42,353 for a total of 487,410.
Other increases were reported in total tithes and offerings and special gifts, $7,793,931,050, a 7.37 percent increase compared to the 1999 increase of 5.38 percent. Of that amount, undesignated receipts totaled $5,980,939,876, an increase of 6.67 percent. Total receipts were $8,437,177,940, an 8.55 percent increase.
Sunday morning average worship attendance increased 2.33 percent from 5,418,348 in 1999 to 5,544,439 in 2000.
Music ministry enrollment/participation declined by 12,072 or 0.72 percent to a total of 1,654,877.
Woman’s Missionary Union enrollment declined by 17,370 or 1.91 percent to 892,157.
Totals in two other categories — value of church property and church-type missions operated by churches — were affected by changes in the numbers of state conventions providing data. Church property value declined by 7.24 percent to $25,201,554,006. Church-type missions increased by 39.55 percent to 5,243.
(BP) graphic posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Chart title: ANNUAL CHURCH PROFILE CHART.