What is church closals?
Church closings are not uncommon, but the practice is becoming more prevalent.
There are about 1.1 billion active members of church worldwide, of which roughly 1.5 billion are Christians, according to the United Church of Christ.
There is an estimated 15% to 30% drop in the number of active members during a one-year period.
The United Church has been trying to reduce the number by having pastors and deacons leave.
However, many churches, including the Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church, continue to allow them to be closed and many churches are not accepting new members in the interim.
Many churches are looking for ways to retain members, but not necessarily to reduce membership, said Dr. S.N. Singh, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The problem is that we have the biggest number of church members, the fastest growth of people who have become Catholics, so it is the church that has to figure out how to accommodate the needs of its members,” Singh said.
The trend has caught the attention of the U.S. bishops.
Earlier this year, they released a statement calling for a “deeper look” at church closers.
In an earlier statement, they said that church leaders should be more transparent about their closings to “ensure they are in fact being implemented in a way that is consistent with the mandate of the First Amendment.”
Church leaders need to do a better job of providing the necessary information to help them make a decision and not be forced to make a change, said Archbishop Daniel P. Martin, the presiding bishop of the Archdiocese of New York.
The bishop said the United Methodist Church needs to “take responsibility for the closings that are happening to our members and help us to make the right decisions for our congregations.”
The U.K. and Australia also have some church closures that have drawn attention.
In May, the Anglican Church of Australia closed a church after members refused to pay to have the service.
In June, the United Reformed Church of England in England announced that it was closing a church in the Uckfield area of Oxford, England after a meeting of its clergy found it to be un-Christlike.