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Lutheran membership slips slightly

(ran LA edition of LT)

Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran in America (ELCA) dipped slightly between 1993 and 1994, with the denomination reporting it lost 12,752 members in the year.

Current membership is 5,199,048. The ELCA remains the nation's fifth largest Protestant body, behind the Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, National Baptist Convention USA, and the Church of God in Christ (Memphis, Tenn.).

Denominational data, released Monday, also showed the church had 10,973 congregations at the end of 1994, down 47 from 1993. Officials said the decrease was primarily the result of mergers and consolidation of congregations.

The church said the average size of an ELCA congregation is 351 confirmed (adult) members and 474 baptized members.

On the giving side, contributions to the denomination's congregations totaled $1,720,742,578 _ up $60,672,311 from 1993. It was the largest increase since 1991.

Of the more than $1.7-billion given to congregations, $118,085,1999 was passed on to the ELCA's 65 synods and churchwide organizations.

The average giving per confirmed member was $367.55 in 1994, compared with $355.69 in 1993, the ELCA said.