Two conservative denominations rank among the top three major Protestant bodies in percentage of ethnic-minority members, according to a survey conducted by the United Methodist Reporter.

Surveying Protestant denominations with more than one million members, the newspaper found that the conservative Assemblies of God and Southern Baptist Convention, and the mainline American Baptist Churches, have experienced the largest increases in ethnic-minority membership during the past ten years. Meanwhile, ethnic membership growth was “stagnant or minor” in most mainline Protestant denominations, said associate editor Roy Howard Beck.

Ethnic membership increased by 48 percent in the Assemblies of God and by 70 percent in the Southern Baptist Convention. The growth resulted primarily “from aggressive evangelism and church-starting efforts,” according to the United Methodist Reporter.

Southern Baptists started nearly 400 black congregations during the past ten years. The Southern Baptist Convention also claims 4,600 non-English-speaking churches, including congregations in which a total of 87 languages is spoken.

The Assemblies of God, which maintains separate Spanish-speaking districts, added 118 congregations in its Gulf Latin American District in the past five years. The denomination has maintained Korean districts for three years, claiming 10,000 Korean members in 70 congregations.

The American Baptist Churches ranked far ahead of other mainline denominations, reporting a 43 percent increase in its ethnic membership. The increase came primarily from black congregations that are dually affiliated with both the American Baptist Churches and a black Baptist denomination.

According to Beck, officials of several mainline denominations said they have difficulty gathering data on ethnic-minority membership because keeping such statistics might be viewed as racist. Because statistics were difficult to compile, some of the data gathered by the United Methodist Reporter were based on church officials’ estimates, Beck said, and thus “findings are likely best used for general comparisons.”

The newspaper reported that the American Baptist Churches leads other denominations in total percentage of ethnic-minority members with 38 percent. Following are the Assemblies of God (10 %); Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (5 %); Southern Baptist Convention (4.9 %); United Church of Christ (4.9 %); United Methodist Church (4.7 %); and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (2 %).

The American Baptist Churches also leads other major denominations in numbers of minority members, with 610,000. Next are the Southern Baptist Convention, with 590,000; United Methodist Church (450,000); Assemblies of God (125,000); United Church of Christ (84,000); Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (65,000); and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (57,000).


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