A growing church: a look at reported church members in 2018

Worship at a congregation of Uganda Mennonite Church. Photo: Uganda Mennonite Church
Release date: 
Tuesday, 20 November 2018

“Uganda is ripe for evangelism and the church is growing,” says bishop Simon Okoth, national coordinator of Uganda Mennonite Church. The new Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member church (accepted by the Executive Committee in 2017) grew from 310 members in 7 congregations reported in 2015 to 553 members in 18 congregations in 2018.

Every three years, MWC collects information from its members to publish for its members, showing the growth of national churches around the world in member churches and those who are not members or are on the path, like Uganda Mennonite. Global statistics, a global map showing the most recent statistics for Anabaptists churches in each country and a large wall map are found here.

One international association (IBICA) and 107 national churches are MWC members, comprising 69 percent of the total Anabaptist-Mennonite faith family identified.

Overall, Anabaptism worldwide has grown: 2 131 000 baptized members in 86 countries.

Much of the growth in Anabaptist-Mennonite congregations can be seen in the Global South, in national churches like Uganda that are springing up in peri-urban areas (the hinterlands outside cities). Growing greatly in number, Uganda Mennonite Church congregations face many challenges: buildings barely covered by a roof, and no windows; lack of chairs for church members to sit on during services, pastors who have no formal training and sometimes no paycheque.

MWC member churches in Africa reported 701 814 baptized members in 2015. That increased by five percent to 738 315 baptized members in 2018.

Asia and the Pacific saw a two percent growth in baptized members, although the number of baptized members of Mennonite World Conference decreased slightly. Greater precision in reporting accounts for some of the decreases reported in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Bharatiya Jukta Christa Prachar Mandli, an Anabaptist church based in Kolkata, India, shows the greatest increase: 36% growth from 2015’s 2 725 baptized members to 4 260 in 2018.

Baptized members of MWC member churches in Latin America grew by six percent: from 102 377 in 2015 to 109 177 in 2018.

Two national churches in Latin America grew by more than thirty percent. New MWC member COBIM, the Mennonite Brethren church in Brazil, grew from 6 960 baptized members in 2015 to 10 400 in 2018. Conferencia Peruana Hermanos Menonitas went from 664 members in 2015 to 1 000 in 2018.

In Venezuela where economic collapse has made daily life difficult, MWC associate member church Casa de Restauracion y Vida Shalom saw their members fall by more than half from 250 in 2015 to 120 in 2018.

Europe, cradle to Anabaptist faith, sees losses in historic areas, like the Netherlands where the Algemene Doopsgezind Societeit fell from 7 650 members in 2015 to 5 725 in 2018. However, new expressions of Anabaptism are growing in Albania and Spain. The former grew exponentially from 30 baptized members in 2015 to 120 in 2018, while Anabautistas, Menonitas y Hermanos en Cristo in Spain increased from 376 to 501, aided by mission work from Amor Viviente of Honduras.

In North America, Mennonite Church USA reports a 33 percent decrease in baptized members as Lancaster Mennonite Conference leaves the alliance to form a separate conference. Several other national churches report slight decreases overall, while the Conservative Mennonite Conference in USA shows two percent growth. The Be in Christ Church of Canada (formerly Brethren in Christ) is growing steadily with approximately 17 000 attendees in 2018. (2015’s reported membership of 4 080 used a narrower measure of membership).

Overall, Mennonite World Conference member churches have grown by two percent since 2015 while Anabaptists counted globally have grown one percent. Globally, two thirds of Anabaptists are found in the Global South.

Counting only MWC-member churches, that number shifts to 81 percent of members living in the Global South, in places like Uganda.

“The Mennonite Church Uganda is quite happy and honored to be member of the global family of the MWC,” says Okoth. “May God sustain us together.”

—Mennonite World Conference release

Geographic representation: 

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