It was just last week that the Central Lutheran Church of Dallas celebrated its 100th anniversary. The congregation, which recently merged with 70-year-old Bethany Lutheran Church of Dallas, is starting to reckon with the decline in attendance and membership that is plaguing mainline traditions across the U.S.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had seen a steady decline long before outbreaks of COVID-19 closed church doors. In North Texas, that fact is evident in ELCA congregations. According to data from the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, one of 65 synods under the ELCA, the pandemic has closed three congregations since 2019. Since 2013, the synod lost 6 congregations.
The synod’s Bishop Erik Gronberg explained that though there has been significant decline overall, other demographics have seen significant growth.
“We’re actually seeing growth in congregations of color and in languages other than English,” Gronberg said. “But in our Anglo…