The Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) reports annually on statistical changes that take place each year, including ministerial and congregational departures from the denomination.
Over the past two years, I have published posts (here, here, and here) which have brought together data to ‘track the stats’ regarding losses from the denomination. My question has been – and continues to be – What can this data tell us about the preferred destination(s) of the ministers and congregations that leave the PCA for other ecclesiastical settings?
The various lists of congregations added, transferred, or dissolved in 2022 are found on pages 239-240 of the Commissioner Handbook to the 50th General Assembly. Similar lists of ministers added to the PCA, dismissed to other denominations, deceased, or otherwise removed from office in 2022 are found on pages 240-246. Once the Minutes of the 50th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America are finalized and published, this post will be updated to direct readers to the appropriate page numbers in the Minutes.
After comparing the statistical reports on pages 239-246 with other information I could find online, here are my summary findings for the changes in the roster of PCA congregations and ministers in 2022:
Congregations Organized in 2022: 24 Gross Total of Congregations Added in 2022: 27
Congregations Dissolved in 2022: 8 Congregations Dismissed to Other Denominations in 2022: 6 (1 ACNA; 1 BPC; 1 CMA; 1 CREC; 2 Independency) Gross Total of Congregations Lost in 2022: 14
Ministers Ordained in 2022: 115 Ministers Received from Other Denominations in 2022: 21 (3 ARP; 1 EFCA; 4 EPC; 1 Independent; 6 International; 1 KAPC; 1 RCA; 2 RPCNA; 1 Reformed Baptist; 1 SBC) Ministers Added (Other) in 2022: 22 Gross Total of Ministers Added in 2022: 158
Ministers Dismissed to Known Other Denominations in 2022: 44 (8 ACNA; 5 ARP; 1 BPC; 1 CMA; 1 CREC; 3 ECO; 9 EPC; 1 Imago Dei; 7 Independent/Non-Denominational; 2 International; 2 OPC; 2 PCUSA; 1 TEC; 1 Vanguard) Ministers Lost to Unknown Destinations in 2022: 12 Ministers Demitted, Deposed, or Divested in 2022: 31 Ministers Deceased in 2022: 23
Gross Total of Minsters Lost in 2022: 110
Three of the six departing congregations in 2022 have found new denominational homes in denominations I previously classed as “more peaceful” than the PCA, two of them have joined denominations I previously described as “more strident,” and one transferred to a denomination that I classed as “about the same.” When considering departing ministers, the destinations are just as varied and typical of trends from previous years.
As noted in the past, there are many more opportunities for fruitful ministry and gainful employment in denominations such as the EPC as compared to other denominations sharing some kind of similarity to the PCA. Thus, it comes as no surprise this year that the EPC is the leading denominational destination for outgoing PCA ministers, followed by a close-second in the ACNA.
When we classify the denominational destinations using the taxonomy I introduced in the post Eight Years of Moving Out, and aggregate the data for 2012-2022, this is what we find:
More Peaceful: 143 More Strident: 67 About the Same: 50 Other/Unknown: 116
When compared with recent history going back to 2013, what I found from a quick look at the Stated Clerk’s report to the 50th General Assembly confirmed what I suspect to be the case in the near-term. While congregations will be evenly split in their destination denominations, the number of departing ministers will be concentrated in denominations described here (admittedly, somewhat subjectively) as “More Peaceful” (e.g., the EPC, ECO, ACNA, etc.). When viewed in historical perspective (going back to 2013), it remains the case that more than any other denomination, the EPC is the destination of choice for PCA ministers transferring out of the PCA (71 in the years 2012-2022). The same move is much less common for entire congregations, despite certain high-profile examples, going back to the 1990s.