ELCA Offerings Soar While Membership Plummets

The ELCA reported a 2.45 percent increase in annual offerings despite a 1 percent drop in membership
( [email protected] ) Aug 19, 2004 08:34 PM EDT

Despite experiencing one of the largest exodus of it’s members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America received some $61.2 million dollars more in offerings and gifts from its members in 2003.

According to figures recently released by Rev. Lowell G. Almen, ELCA secretary, total receipts to the church amounted to $2,554,509,414, reflecting a growth of 2.45 percent from the previous year.

The 2003 increase, in conjunction with the 1.7 percent increase in offerings recorded in 2002, totaled to a growth of more than $100 million in parishioners’ support to the national church.

Oddly, during the same two years, the church experienced its largest decrease in membership ever – some 114,952 “slipped” away from the ELCA.

The average regular giving per confirmed member in 2003 was also up three percent; members gave some $550 to their church last year.

In total, the 10,667 ELCA congregations had a cumulative income of $1.7 billion, that was received in regular, unrestricted offerings. This figure reflected a 4 percent increase from 2002 - $62 million more.

Funds held in endowments and investments by congregations also grew; the churches had some $1.7 billion in savings and investments, endowments and memorial funds.

Meanwhile, the secretary reported a decrease in the “mission support” passed from congregations to the national church for the support of national and international ministries. Actual mission support funding for 2003 was $131,538,299, down $1.7 million from 2002.

In total, estimated value of assets owned by congregations exceeded $16 billion.