NEW YORK (AP) An annual statistical report on the strength of North American churches found membership has increased in some of the largest denominations and among some smaller Pentecostal churches.
The recently released 2004 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches reported growth in the two biggest U.S. faiths: the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Researchers also found rising numbers in the Cleveland, Tenn.-based Church of God, a Pentecostal denomination which now has 944,857 members.
Some mainline Protestant denominations including the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had membership losses, continuing a trend that began years ago.
The Catholic Church remains the largest U.S. denomination by far, with 66.4 million members, followed by the 16.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, the biggest Protestant group, according to the yearbook.
The United Methodist Church comes next, with 8.3 million members, followed by the Church of God in Christ, with 5.5 million.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ranked fifth, with 5.4 million members.
The yearbook is published by the National Council of Churches, an association of 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations, with 140,000 congregations nationwide.
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