The leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) began enforcing reforms to combat the loss of members in their aboriginal churches, the Taiwanese Church Newsletter reported, Feb. 18.
According to the 2002 year-end figures, the PCT had numerical growth in 11 judicatories and shrinkage in 16. Those with the greatest loss were the Central Amis, Eastern Amis, Western Amis, and Southern Bunun Presbyteries – all part of the aboriginal church system.
These presbyteries reported up to 10 percent loss in congregational membership, leading to what they called “unbearable shrinkage.”
“I don t know why we are losing members. In the past we have sponsored women s, youth and elderly peoples fellowship groups,” said the Rev. Icang from the Eastern Amis Presbytery. “We only hope that devoted believers will once again give themselves to their churches.”
Western Amis Presbytery moderator Rev. Ingay Looh said the PCT must undergo a transformation to stem the trend.
“The PCT has become old and gray,” said Looh. “Transformation is needed. If the church cannot satisfy the desires of its membership, it will not attract anyone new.”
According to Looh, the PCT has been “inflexible” to the needs for “modernization and the acceptance of ideas and methods from outside.” Therefore, he called upon the member churches to humbly repent for errors in church methods and practices, and gradually accept the outside influences toward transformation.
“Taking care of our own houses first can influence change in the PCT as a whole,” said Looh. “The most important and far-reaching reforms must begin within local churches themselves.”
The PCT is composed of 1205 congregations organized into 27 judicatories. 992 congregations returned annual statistical report forms for the year 2002.