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Only 5 of top 25 U.S. churches report membership growth

Associated Press Modified: February 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm •  Published: February 17, 2010

''In an era in which we have come to expect the inevitable advance of secularism in the U.S., the influx of robust Christian communities among new immigrants once again amends the topographical map of the religious landscape," Lindner writes in the Yearbook.

While some congregations are no doubt shrinking, the Yearbook reports total church membership was up 0.5 percent in 2008, to 147.4 million members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) reported membership growth of 1.7 percent, to 5.9 million members. The Assemblies of God is the only other church in the 10 largest denominations to post an increase in size, up 1.3 percent, to 2.9 million.

While overall membership may be increasing, only five of the top 25 churches in the nation are growing, according to the Yearbook.

The 10 largest Christian bodies remain unchanged from last year's list, with one exception. The Assemblies of God moved up a notch, to the No. 9 spot, switching places with the Presbyterian Church (USA), which now finishes last on the Top 10 list.

The 10 largest Christian bodies reported in the 2010 yearbook are:

1. The Catholic Church: 68.1 million, up 1.49 percent.

2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million, down 0.24 percent.

3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million (U.S.), down 0.98 percent.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 5.9 million (U.S.), up 1.71 percent.

5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no change.

6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc: 5 million, no change.

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.6 million, down 1.62 percent.

8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.: 3.5 million, no change.

9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up 1.27 percent.

10. Presbyterian Church (USA): 2.8 million, down 3.3 percent.