Presbyterian Church (USA) will Gather Nonbinary/Genderqueer Statistics for Its Membership
The mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) announced this week it will change the way it reports statistical information about the denomination’s membership to now include a category for nonbinary/genderqueer reporting.
The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in America. It claims to have 1.1 million active members and 8,813 churches. However, less than 425-thousand attend PCUSA churches, a drop of nearly 50 percent in the past decade.
The Office of General Assembly (OGA) said the new reporting will more accurately reflect the makeup of the denomination.
“If we want to be inclusive, then we have to start asking because you should be aware of who’s a part of your church,” Kris Valerius, manager of the PCUSA’s roles and statistics said of what she called an “important change.”
She admits she is uncertain how many members will choose the nonbinary/genderqueer category because it has not been offered as an option before.
In 2015, PCUSA amended its constitution to change the definition of marriage to read in part, “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.”
The prior year, the General Assembly had allowed pastors in the PCUSA to conduct ceremonies that united same-sex couples. This decision prompted the 2015 constitutional change.
The denomination is also removing the definitions for racial/ethnic sections of the reports based on the instructions of the General Assembly.
“We’ll have the same categories, we’re just not defining them any longer, which may upset people. The information will be there— we’re just removing the definitions,” Valerius said.
The motion to remove the definitions passed unanimously through the committee at General Assembly in June.
“[B]ecause we’ve often gotten pushback on the descriptions [in the form], the recommendation is not to remove the categories, but only the definitions” of race and ethnicity, OGA’s Charles Hargove told the committee.
In its statement, PCUSA also said it did not see a large loss of membership due to the COVID-19 pandemic as predicted.
“It didn’t happen, and we were very surprised,” said Valerius. “Because people still filled out the questionnaire, we realized that we didn’t lose nearly as many people as we thought we would.”
As the denomination has attempted to become more “inclusive,” it has seen precipitous drops in membership. In 2016, membership was reported to be 1.48 million, more than 400,000 more than today.
The number of denominational congregations has also dropped from 9,451 in 2016 to 8,813 presently.