6,826 churches by the end of 2011, an increase of 367 churches from the previous year. This in spite greatly reduced man hours available to do the massive email sweeps through entire denominations required now days to find the affirming churches. The good news is that the movement has clearly ‘main line’ in several denominations (e.g. Episcopal). The ‘bad’ news is that to find the affirming churches now in these groups massive email sweeps are required. This is very time consuming, exactly the time commitment we were in short supply of this year. In spite of our resource limitations, the directory grew at a rate of over one church a day and was on pace at the early part of the year to completely smash the one year new church add record before resource limitations stepped in to slow down the ‘grand search’ for affirming churches throughout the world.
By Elaine, January 2012
Major Trends Continue
In almost a mirror image of last year the same five major trends continue to influence the directory in 2011. These five being:
The five denominations of Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Lutheran ELCA, Presbyterian and United Methodist account for 4,623 of the churches listed which is close to 68% of the directory.
The Movement is Beyond Affirming Associations and Groups
It has become abundantly clear that the best place to find new affirming churches isn’t through their denominations ‘welcoming’ associations and groups. But it is instead to email literally every church in the denomination to find their stance on the issue and to see if they would like to be listed in the directory. Our directory listings would be 3x what they are now if we simply had more time to email every church – a very labor intensive process. Instead you can see the jump in numbers directly correlated to which denomination we are emailing that particular year. This past year emails were going out to Lutheran congregations and we saw an 18% corresponding jump in their numbers. Last year it was the Episcopalian churches. The year before that the UCC congregations and so forth.
Non-Denomination/Charismatic Churches Defy the Odds
The one exception to the ‘email rule’ is the non-denominational churches that don’t belong (usually) to any association, denomination or group so finding and emailing them is virtually impossible. Instead they have to contact us and request to be listed. In spite of this hurdle, their numbers continue to increase at a rapid clip showing an 11% rise from the previous year.
Taking the ‘Roman’ out of Catholic
Catholic off shoot groups have outstripped the number Roman Catholic parish listings. Not that surprising given the Vatican’s negative stance toward the gay and lesbian community.
Beyond ‘our’ Borders
One of the fastest growing areas continue to be beyond the borders of the United States with denominations like the United Church of Canada, the Uniting churches (Australia) and the like. Again the number of these churches listed in the directory is constrained by our ability to find and email each one.
Currently the top fourteen denominations contained in the directory are:
|1,040||3%||United Church of Christ|
|655||1%||United Methodist Church|
|293||1%||Catholic (other) (1)|
|198||78%||United Church of Canada|
|132||8%||Disciples of Christ|
Only denominations that self-identify as being “Christian” are contained in the church directory.
Notes of interest:
- Includes all Catholic denominations that are not associated with the Roman Catholic church (e.g. Independent Catholic, Old Catholic, American Catholic).
I strongly believe that the movement is growing rapidly and far more wide spread than our current means of canvassing the churches can capture. To accurately track the movement now we would need two things. First more people to assist in the church canvassing effort. And second the church web site and underlying database directory need to be updated to automate the process. If either of these two ministries strikes a chord within your heart and you have advanced skills with Dreamweaver and would like to assist our ministry with this vital work – contact me at GALIP Foundation.
The gay affirming movement within the Christian churches continues to expand at a rapid rate. At the same time the movement has expanded across fifty countries and over ninety denominations. We have seen this growth reflected not only in our church directory but in the thousands of new visitors we get every month searching for a church home and support for their Christian walk.
Numbers aside, I believe we are seeing a continuation of a ‘grass roots’ support which now propells the leading edge of this revival. These affirming pastors and churches may not belong to their particular denominations gay affirming organizational body. Yet they are looking for others ‘like them’ who have opened the doors of the faith to everyone and anyone the Holy Spirit sees fit to send their way.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Eric for his boundless energy and stead fast support of this ministry. Your hard work, support and encouragement has helped more than a few churches open their doors to our community. Without your tireless effort, countless numbers of people would not have found a church home. Together we have a front row seat to a marvelous work that is unfolding before our eyes and slowly transforming the Church into a more accessible place for all people to find Christ. It truly is an exciting time to be in the Lord’s service.
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