Rocked by a sex abuse scandal, biggest US Protestant church shed half a million members last year

May 12, 2023

Southern Baptist congregations shed nearly half a million members in 2022, the denomination's biggest one-year loss in more than a century, amid a damaging sex abuse scandal, new data show. Research from Lifeway Christian Resources shows that America's biggest Protestant and second-biggest Christian denomination lost 457,371 members to end the year with some 13.2 million members. Once a denomination of 16.3 million, the SBC has declined by more than 3 million members since 2006Emptier pews in SBC churches. Attendance dropped from 4.4 million in 2020 to 3.6 million in 2021, but recovered to 3.8 million last year. A worshiper at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, which has been a Baptist strongholdThough membership dropped, worshipers started coming back to church services last year as the pandemic wanedAging congregations.