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List of Largest UMC Churches?

Discussion in 'Wesley's Parish - Methodist/ Nazarene' started by jinc1019, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Does anyone know of a list out there or a database that shows the largest UMC churches in the U.S.? Or even in the world? Just curious!
     
  2. JCFantasy23

    JCFantasy23 In a Kingdom by the Sea Staff Member Administrator Supporter CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team

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  3. JCFantasy23

    JCFantasy23 In a Kingdom by the Sea Staff Member Administrator Supporter CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team

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    WOW how strange, there is a church on that list in my hometown.

    First United Methodist Church

    Had no idea we had such a large one here in my area.
     
  4. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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    I do not, but I know it is out there some place (maybe the Board of Discipleship located in Nashville) because a few years ago there was a meeting of the 100 largest UM churches.

    I think I could identify a few of them for you:
    Church of the Resurrection (Kansas City)
    Ginghamsburg
    Glide Memorial (San Francisco)
    St. Luke's (Indianapolis)

    In my Illinois Great Rivers Conference, our two largest churches are First UMC in Springfield and First UMC in Peoria. Peoria used to be the largest church in the entire 9-state North Central Jurisdiction, but now it is only the 2nd biggest church in our conference, losing over 1000 members (a full 1/3) in the last 30 years. This isn't because of bad leadership or bad preaching either. It's just a reality of the community in which it is place and the changing demographics of America.

    They are a downtown church in a small Midwestern city, and everyone is getting older on them and moved away. The city center is dead even during the middle of a weekday, let alone on weekends. But they have elected to stay downtown because they know there is a need for the church's ministry there.

    Springfield First on the other hand, having a similar location, choose to abandon the downtown and move with its membership to the suburbs. They have continued to grow, but they don't have the same ministry that Peoria First has.

    I believe the largest church in Chicago used to be the Chicago Temple (aka, First UMC, Chicago) located directly across the street from City Hall. Whether it still is or not, I have no idea.

    The internet can find some of this out for you if you utilize search engines effectively. I stumbled on this interesting bit of trivia while surfing: Fastest Growing among the large UM Churches.
     
  5. BryanW92

    BryanW92 Hey look, it's a squirrel!

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    Lakeland is home of the Florida Conference. FUMC probably has a lot of old money in it's endowments.
     
  6. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Hey Grace Seeker,
    Thanks for the suggestion and for your thoughts...I agree with you about the changing demographics.

    By the way, you are correct about Chicago Temple, it is still the largest in Chicago, although not the biggest in the area. Grace United in Naperville has about 600 or so for average weekly attendance.

    Justin
     
  7. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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  8. JCFantasy23

    JCFantasy23 In a Kingdom by the Sea Staff Member Administrator Supporter CF Senior Ambassador Angels Team

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    Are you meaning in size of congregation only?
     
  9. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    No, I would like to see all kinds of factors, but the one I am most interested in is average weekly attendance (which is how most people judge the size of a church year-to-year these days).
     
  10. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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  11. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Hey Grace Seeker,
    I too have seen these lists, although not the building one or the international list. I don't know why, but I am really interested in it.

    You'll notice on these lists that the vast majority are NOT UMC, which is why I was looking for a list for that, but these lists are interesting on their own. Thanks for posting them.
     
  12. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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    The UMC is one of the largest congregations in the country, NOT because it has the biggest churches, but because there are more of them and they are all over the country.

    McDonald's isn't the largest restaurant, but they have served billions because they too are all over the country. But there are actually more UM churches than there are McDonald's restaurants. More UM churches than there are US post offices. But the average size of a UM congregation is less than 100 in attendance.

    And there is nothing new about that, it has always been that way. The old Methodist and EUB denominations were denominations that established small churches. They were so intent on making sure that they blanketed the country, that in some locations, there were actual developed plans with the intent that there would be a congregation within walking distance of every household in the county or often an entire conference. So, in my county of only 15,000 people total we have 10 UM churches, mine being the largest barely averaging over 100 on Sunday. So, while the two biggest churches in town average 50% more people than my church does, altogether the UMC denomination averages 50% more than the next two biggest denominations combined. And this story is repeated across the country. In eastern Kentucky and West Virginia it is nothing to drive 10 miles from one small town to the next have a couple of UM congregations in each community and 2 or 3 in the country in between. That's just how close they built them 150 years ago, and while small, those congregations keep going as long as the town itself doesn't die.

    But what is happening in the UMC is that until recently we had quit building new churches. After all we covered the country, or so we thought. We ignored the fact that all those small towns I the east and the Midwest were dying. A few years ago I pastored a church that celebrated 150 years. It was built where a tiny town had grown up around the water refueling stop for the coal train. It wasn't even a official town, never had been. I doubt if more than 50 people had ever lived within 2 miles of the place. And though we were down to 30 people in the entire community, and most of them were people who simply moved there because you could buy a 4-bedroom house for less than $35,000, the church kept going. Our youth graduated, moved to other communities, and were responsibility for starting new churches there, churches that became some of the quickest growing congregations in the conference. They became pastors of struggling UMC churches in other communities where they turned things around resurrecting the church and making it once again the center of the community it had been decades ago. But for my congregation, down to averaging barely a dozen, and most of them past 80 they were ready to close. They had tried for literally decades to witness to their neighbors, but weren't able to generate any new interest. And they were now ready to let drive the few miles to the next town and give up 2 or 3 of the many hats they were wearing to keep the congregation. And that story too is repeated over and over again. As is the story of even the once large UM congregation, the downtown county seat congregation that disappears because even when the city grows, downtowns have disappeared. And suburbs, not county seats, are where people are hopping, raising their children, and going to church now.
     
  13. jinc1019

    jinc1019 Newbie

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    Great insight. You have really added a lot to this conversation and I have learned a lot from your comments.

    Just as a note, I must have misunderstood what you were asking...I know very well that UMC typically has smaller churches and that as a denomination, it is one of the largest.

    I wonder how the UMC will react to the changing landscape in America over the next twenty years or so. Of all the mainlines, they have the best chance of being relevant going forward, but they need to make up a lot of ground.

    Personally, I think one of their problems is...There really is no reason to be Methodist. They don't claim to have the best church, they don't claim to have the best understanding of Christianity, they don't claim that independent Evangelical churches are in error...Basically, they are so busy trying to make the argument that all Christian denominations are essentially equal that it has become difficult to understand why a person should be a Methodist at all. I think it may be different in various parts of the country, but where I live, there is no distinctive Wesleyan element to the UMC...It's just another church on the block with a particular worship style that is falling out of favor (in many but not all UMC churches) and with a lot of internal political problems (at least that's how it is perceived).
     
  14. Gods4Life4Ever

    Gods4Life4Ever Newbie

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    jinc1019,

    It is my opinion, emphasis on opinion, that UMC has some resistance to becoming a Paul: "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Cor. 9:22-23 ESV

    Some of the congregations I have been in were strict high church UMC with hymns and liturgy, no contemporary worship songs.

    Others have been contemporary, in praise and worship, but were so small that the music was not very professionally done.

    The high church UMCs had very professional musicians, though rather dry.

    In my life I have been in both and appreciate each. I favor a mixture of hymns and liturgy with contemporary praise and worship with more personal touches where the Pastor walks the center aisle preaching from the Bible as he/she walks from time to time. I don't think it is necessary for a Pastor to stay in the pulpit.
     
  15. Gods4Life4Ever

    Gods4Life4Ever Newbie

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    Personally, I think the UMC is one of the best kept secrets in Christiandom. We have the correct message. (smile, wink).

    Perhaps we, as a denomination, have lost our fire, our first love. Perhaps an Asbury style revival is needed like the one back in the '70s.

    What I do know about God, is that He is never late. He will bring revival into the UMC when He decides to do so. We have members ready to follow His leading.
     
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