Recently Read: Top annual conferences in the UMC

UMC-ConferencesSeveral bloggers today have shared Len Wilson‘s 2011 post in which he examined the 2009 statistics for the annual conferences in the United Methodist Church and compiled a list of the top 25 based on membership and worship attendance. As interesting as the top 25 was the analysis of conferences based on the percentage of members engaged in weekly worship, which suggested that raw numbers from the larger conferences don’t always represent active participation:

It is interesting to note that many of the smaller conferences of the Western Jurisdiction have a high percentage of their members in worship. Of the top 10 conferences in percentage of members in worship, five reside in the Western Jurisdiction, four in the North Central, and one in the Northeast. None are from the Southeast or South Central. The only conferences to rank in the top 10 in both attendance and in percentage of members in attendance are West Ohio and Indiana, which speaks well of the vitality of these conferences. The Southeast and South Central jurisdictions continue to enjoy the influence of a passing cultural era, whereas the Western Jurisdiction, while smaller, is doing more to engage its members through worship.

Click here to read the full post and see if your annual conference made the list.

Recently Read

Recently Read

Recently Read posts are stories the editors of The United Methodist Reporter have found interesting from other sites and wanted to share with our readers. The editors do not necessarily endorse the opinions shared in these stories, and referral here should not imply endorsement of that content.

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15 Comments on "Recently Read: Top annual conferences in the UMC"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Linda C.
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If we are still assigning delegates to General conference based on membership, then maybe the entire church should have one standard for determining who is and is not a member of a local church.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor
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Creed Pogue
Guest

And to what should be no one’s great surprise, the state of Georgia has almost the same number of United Methodists attending on an average Sunday as the ENTIRE Western Jurisdiction. Yes, the Western Jurisdiction is the light we should follow (if we want to go over the cliff).

This is also indicative of why a number of conferences have changed their apportionment formula to take membership out of the equation. Membership being in the formula created an incentive to strongly scrub the rolls. Virtually all of the Southeastern Jurisdiction has used expenses-based formulae for years.

Deb Smith
Guest

For those interested in this information for the 2012 statistics, the most recent available, you can find them at
http://spreadsheetstories.blogspot.com/2014/05/chapter-seven-2012-stats-annual.html

David
Guest

Judging by the comments of Mark, Wes, and Paul, I guess I’m silly to think that having a higher percentage of members in worship is a good thing–shame on me! But then, I’m in one of those “declining” conferences in a “weak region” so what would I know? What I do know is that we’re doing a lot of wonderful ministry and that perhaps our critics should treat us with a little more Christ-like love rather than with disdain and contempt. BTW, our 70 and 80-year olds tend to show up for worship, and we love having them there! Peace.

Mark
Guest
“Disdain”? “Contempt”? Methinks you overreact. No one said that having a higher percentage of people in worship is a bad thing. If you are enjoying wonderful ministry then that’s great…the question then becomes why aren’t you growing? My point had to do with the lack of balance of the article in the apparent attempt to give a particular impression. Facts and perspective are important if one is to form realistic conclusions about anything. And I think you reveal something important when you mention the 70 and 80-somethings in worship (God bless ’em!). The UMC consists of aging white folks, and… Read more »
David
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Overreacting? You too might react strongly when others are actively trying to de-fund you (which you appear to support–“Bishop over-representation and disproportionate funding”–which isn’t necessarily as cut-and-dried as it appears on face value, but I won’t go into that here). Interestingly enough, the 2011 article was written by a Southerner, and if you read all the way through the comments, you’ll see his responses to similar complaints. As for the young people, many surveys been conducted and stories written showing that they actually are very turned off by the anti-gay stance of the UMC, in that they accept marriage equality… Read more »
Mark
Guest

Same to you my friend. I don’t intend to offend as some of my comments are meant to portray truth in tongue-in-cheek fashion (liberals do it habitually), but I find it regrettable that you assume a defensive posture and ignore the facts I cite, while I consider your views and attempt to offer objective rebuttals. If you reach a point when you are more inclined to deal with reality in a balanced fashion and jettison the victim mentality then I am ready to have a conversation. Until then, peace.

Mark
Guest
David, I mentioned nothing about sexuality; yet you move right to that topic…and you guys on the Left say traditionalists are obsessed with that issue? Hmmm. Well, I suppose I should offer my congratulations. You have attained a level of enlightenment that supercedes Scripture, natural law and centuries of Christian teaching. But back to the topic at hand. Why should churches with lower per capita incomes—such as from the South and Midwest—subsidize churches in more affluent areas of the country? Isn’t that robbing from the poor to give to the rich? I thought you guys were against such things! Or… Read more »
David
Guest

Mark, I find your level of sarcasm to be extremely antagonistic and certainly not in keeping with the guidance for conversation here, specifically:
“May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Your assumptions and assertions are incorrect. Furthermore, you don’t know me and don’t appear ready to consider anything that challenges your world view, so I’ll just wish you grace and peace.

Paul W.
Guest
I agree with Mark and Wes. Len’s second table probably only shows which conferences are most diligent at clearing out their membership rolls, or possibly which conferences are new enough that they haven’t yet experienced the phenomenon of generations of families that consider the church “their church” even though they rarely, if ever, attend. (I see that in my conference, with quite a few members in their 70’s and 80’s who have not actively attended worship since their children were young.) In looking at the numbers in the blog post, all one can really says definitively is 1) which conferences… Read more »
Taylor Wade Loy
Guest

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a tiny church that isn’t growing and hasn’t been for decades is far easier to maintain books on than one that has surged for years. I’m shocked at the blatant bias of this article.

Wes Andrews
Guest

Yes, Mark, there is a lot of spin going on here. When I read the article, I kept thinking “so, this tells us what?” It really doesn’t tell us anything except raw numbers interpreted in a way that suggests that the weakest regions of the church are actually the strongest….

Mark
Guest

Exactly. Not a balanced piece. Could easily leave a cursory observer with a totally misleading impression.

Mark
Guest

Unfortunately, all these numbers must be taken with a grain of salt since record-keeping, particularly regarding purging membership roles, has been historically inaccurate.

I do admire the creativity, however, in spinning this in such a way as to make the declining conferences look good! If you look at Bishop over-representation and disproportionate funding you might see a vastly different picture.

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