Mormons atop growth list

The Charlotte Observer/February 26, 2005

Mormons are the fastest-growing church in the United States and rose to No. 4 of the country's Top 10 churches, according to annual church membership figures compiled by the National Council of Churches.

The 2005 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches reports a 1.71 percent growth rate for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2003, for a total U.S. membership of 5.5 million.

The 2005 Yearbook (based on data from 2003) found 163 million members in 217 denominations.

The Roman Catholic Church, with 67 million members, continues its strong lead as No. 1, with the third-highest growth rate of 1.28 percent. Southern Baptists maintained their No. 2 spot with 16.4 million and a growth rate of 1.18 percent.

The United Methodist Church, with 8.2 million U.S. members, held on to No. 3. The Mormons bumped the Church of God in Christ out of last year's No. 4 slot to fifth place, with 5.4 million members.

The figures continue to look bleak for the country's mainline Protestant churches -- Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and others -- who have been overtaken by Mormons, Pentecostals and black churches in recent years.

"Of the top 10 largest churches, only three are mainline Protestant," wrote the Yearbook's editor, the Rev. Eileen Lindner. "These three churches are also the only churches in the top 10 ranking to report an overall decline in membership. In the top 25 church groups, only six are mainline Protestant, and all of them report an overall loss of membership for the reporting year."

Lindner noted that Pentecostals, generally speaking, are shadowing the fast growth rates seen among Catholics and Mormons.

Largest U.S. churches

  1. Roman Catholic Church: 67.2 million.
  2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.4 million.
  3. United Methodist Church: 8.2 million.
  4. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 5.5 million.
  5. Church of God in Christ: 5.4 million.
  6. National Baptist Convention USA: 5 million.
  7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.9 million.
  8. National Baptist Convention of America: 3.5 million.
  9. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): 3.2 million.
  10. Assemblies of God: 2.7 million.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.