Rev. George Speake, the Conference Statistician, shared encouraging news Wednesday afternoon about positive increases in the North Carolina Conference’s statistical numbers. The good news was tempered by some words of challenge to the churches and clergy.
In 2014, church membership increased by 409, reflecting 2806 professions of faith and a total membership of nearly 230,000. Professions of faith are made by those desiring to become full members of the church and are people who have never publicly professed faith in Christ at any other time in their lives.
However, average worship attendance did not follow the same trend. Data from our reporting shows a decline in 2014 by 1,785 people which gave us an average worship attendance of 76,896. Rev. Speake encouraged the Annual Conference to “work out a common, foolproof system in each of our churches to record and report an accurate number for worship. This will reflect the strength of each church and our Annual Conference.” Attendance numbers are reported annually in January in Table I, Table II, and Table III.
Some other encouraging news is as follows:
• Participation in UMVIM (United Methodists Volunteers in Mission) increased by 69. There were a total of 1,479 participants in UMVIM short-term mission trips.
• We set a record for local benevolent giving which included our churches’ efforts to help the needy, provide support with utilities and rent, and other ministries in our communities. We spent $14,160,276 this year which was an increase of over a million dollars!
• Programming expenses and building improvements increased, as we continued to grow in ministry and mission.
• All together, we spent $175,960,582 in ministry and mission, an increase of more than $3.6 million over 2013.
Despite a slight decline in average worship attendance, the North Carolina Conference ended 2014 on a positive note in regards to church membership growth and professions of faith.