United Methodist membership again declines, Southern Baptists post tiny increase

Nashville, USA - The United Methodist Church, America's second-largest Protestant body, says its membership dropped in 2004 as it has in each of the 36 years since the denomination was formed through a merger.

The latest total was 8.07 million, a loss of less than 1 percent from 2003 and a decrease of about 5.5 percent for the past decade.

Despite the nationwide decline, membership increases were posted by 13 regional units located in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

The denomination is America's most widespread, with at least one congregation in 2,997 of the nation's 3,142 counties.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the biggest U.S. Protestant group, reported a membership of 16.27 million in 2005, a tiny increase over 2004, while baptisms and Sunday School enrollment showed declines for the year.

Southern Baptists listed 43,699 congregations, cumulative annual receipts of $10.7 billion and property worth $42.8 billion.