Lutheran membership jumps by nearly two million

Published April 1, 2008

Africa’s Lutheran churches saw their total membership increase over the past year by nearly two million, boosting the total number of members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) worldwide to more than 68.3 million.

The Geneva-based federation says that Lutheran churches in Asia also registered an increase overall in the period, while slight decreases were again recorded in other world regions.

With an increase of 368,861 members, or 8.2 per cent, to 4.87 million, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the largest LWF member church in Africa, now becomes the second largest worldwide.

The largest LWF church is the Church of Sweden, which remained nearly unchanged over the course of 2007, with a slight drop of 0.03 per cent to reach 6,893,901 members. Still, Germany remains the country with largest overall Lutheran count at 12.63 million, but they belong to different churches, some of which are organized on a regional basis.

According to recent LWF statistics, membership in the organization’s 140 churches and other congregations in 78 countries worldwide rose by a total of 1.64 million reaching 68,322,299, an increase of 2.5 per cent over the previous year. In 2006, LWF member churches had some 66.7 million members worldwide, up from 66.2 million in 2005.

Meanwhile, membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada remained relatively stable in 2007, falling by a mere 0.03 per cent to count 174,500, while the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (Canada) recorded an increase of just under 21 per cent, pushing the total to 8,000.

Over the past year, LWF church membership in Africa rose by 1.93 million or 12.7 per cent to reach a total of 17,129,230. The membership of non-LWF Lutheran churches in Africa remained unchanged at 56,069 Lutherans.

The number of Lutherans in Asia rose 101,439 in 2007, an increase of 1.22 per cent.

In Europe, however, the total membership of Lutheran churches fell again, by 292,117, or 0.78 per cent, to reach 37,177,468. But the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia recorded a 25 per cent membership increase or 3,000 new members to reach 15,000. The Lutheran Church in Great Britain grew by 18.6 per cent (440 members) to 2810.

The total membership in Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean fell last year by 14,053, or 1.26 per cent, to reach 1.1million. A drop of 2.34 per cent among LWF member churches in the region put the total at 822 074. Non-LWF churches registered 5633 new members, a two-per-cent increase, to reach 282 120.

Total LWF membership in North American Lutheran churches fell by 98,652, or 1.23 per cent, in 2007. Of a total 7.9 million Lutherans, 4,958,203 belonged to LWF member churches. The region’s LWF member churches registered a decrease of 75,248 members, or 1.49 per cent.


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