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Report shows church giving down $1.2 billion in 2010


hurches continue to feel the effects of a struggling economy as giving declined by $1.2 billion to $29 billion in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available across 228 U.S church bodies.

The $1.2 billion drop was nearly

triple the $431 million decline reported in 2009, and “provides clear evidence of the impact of the deepening crises in the reporting period,” said Eileen Lindner, editor of the 2012 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches. Produced annually by the National Council of Churches, the yearbook is con- sidered one of the most authorita- tive sources of church membership. According to the yearbook, there was a $17 decrease to $763 contributed per member, a decline that “took place in the context of ongoing high unemployment and a protracted economic downturn,” Lindner said.

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said, “the number of people with no religion will overtake the number of Christians in Great Britain in 20 years.”

Rejoice wins ‘Golden Huggie’

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska awarded its “Golden Hug- gie” to Rejoice Lutheran Church, Omaha, Neb., for donating nearly 17,794 diapers. Eight Omaha area congregations spent a month collect- ing diapers and cash for the Diaper Derby to support LFS’ Centers for Healthy Families. The effort resulted in 62,947 diapers. The centers use diapers as one of their incentives to keep young parents engaged in ther-

10 The Lutheran • Church membership was fairly

stable, she wrote, although in the top 25 largest denominations it decreased by 1.15 percent, to 145.7 million.

The ELCA—the seventh largest church—had the sharpest decline (5.9 percent) to 4.3 million mem- bers. That loss occurred the year following the ELCA’s 2009 vote to ordain gay and lesbian people in committed same-sex relationships. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention had a decrease of less than 1 percent.

Only six of the top 25 churches grew in membership, including the National Baptist Convention, USA (up 3.95 percent), Jehovah’s Witnesses (up 1.85 percent) and Seventh-day Adventist Church (up 1.61 percent).

Nine of the 25 largest churches

didn’t offer any updates for mem- bership figures.

apy and parenting classes. Congregations lose property

Seven congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church were ordered to return all property to their diocese by April 30. A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge ruled that the congregations had the right to leave the Diocese of Virginia but not to take church property with them. They must return an estimated $40 million worth of property, including several historic churches, chalices, prayer books, crosses and some of the money they had on hand before they left the Episcopal Church. The congregations are now part of the Anglican Church in North America.

Norway: No state church Norway’s government took steps in March toward the disestablishment of its state church, the (Lutheran) Church of Norway. It sent proposals to Parliament to be acted on in May or June, likely changing the coun- try’s constitution. Norway would no longer prescribe that “the Evangeli- cal Lutheran religion should remain the state’s public religion,” but only that the state’s basis will be “our Christian and Humanist heritage,” the government said. The king would no longer appoint bishops but would still be required to “profess the Evan- gelical Lutheran religion.” About 3.8 million of the country’s 4.9 mil- lion population are members of the Church of Norway.

‘Death with dignity’ doctor dies Peter Goodwin, the first doctor in Oregon to campaign publicly for the terminally ill to obtain medi- cal help in ending their lives, died shortly after exercising the right he fought to secure. Goodwin, 83, took a planned overdose of a prescribed drug on March 11. He was diagnosed six years ago with a rare neurological disorder with no treatment or cure. Friends praised Goodwin as a brave public figure who took up a cause that in the early 1980s drew fierce criticism from doctors, clergy and politicians.

Decline pegged to rivalry

The only son and one-time succes- sor of Robert H. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral says sibling rivalry played a key role in the California mega- church’s decline. Robert A. Schul- ler, 57, said his older siblings took advantage of their father’s signs of dementia and halted his 2006 suc- cession to the ministry within two years. He left the church in 2008. Schuller’s parents recently resigned from the ministry they founded more

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