The United Methodist Church (USA) has lost more than 3.3 million members. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has lost more than 2.3 million members since 1971. The Episcopal Church (USA) has lost more than 1.1 million members. The Evangelical Lutheran Church (USA) has lost more than 540,000 members, including a loss of 61,871 members between 2001 and 2002. Forty-five churches closed their doors in 2002. The majority of North American Protestant congregations and denominations, says Hamman, have experienced significant losses since the 1960s. Moreover, the dynamic and growing churches that are changing their traditions experience the loss of what was familiar to them. In many churches, losses past and present remain unnamed and unmourned.
This book explores the diverse nature of loss occurring in North American church contexts: numerical, relationship, material, identity, functional, role, and systemic losses, and suggests how to grieve loss well and move on from it in healthy, life-giving ways.