The 2012 WELS Statistical Report once again shows some interesting results, some encouraging, some less so.

The statistical report is an estimate of the actual synodical statistics. 137 of the 1,278 congregations did not report statistics for 2012. In those cases, the most recently reported statistics from those congregations are used, which may cause discrepancy between the figures for net gains/losses and the overall reported totals. The net gains/losses indicate that the synod gained 11 communicant members in 2012 (compared with a loss of 876 in 2011), but the overall reported totals show a decline of 2,465 communicants (-0.8%).

The report shows that the synod’s congregations experienced a healthy growth in the number of adult confirmations, with 332 more than in 2011 (+8.75%). We also saw a significant decrease in the number of members leaving to join other churches, with 716 fewer than the previous year (-21.7%). Total offerings for all purposes increased from $292.6 million to $303.5 million, an increase of 3.5%. On the other hand, the number of infant baptisms decreased slightly. Adult baptisms, adults joining by profession of faith, deaths, and average church attendance were virtually unchanged.

Overall, the baptized membership of the synod showed a slight decrease of 2,778, from 383,506 in 2011 to 380,728 in 2012 (a loss of 0.72%). Communicant membership also decreased slightly from 303,130 in 2011 to 300,665 in 2012 (a loss of 0.8%).

Enrollment in early childhood, elementary, and area Lutheran high schools all declined slightly; enrollment at the two synodical prep schools grew from 631 to 668 (an increase of 5.9%).

Statistics can always be somewhat misleading and do not always tell the whole story. But they can serve as an encouragement to every congregation and every member of the synod to rededicate ourselves to our mission of sharing the gospel with as many people as possible. We want to be as faithful and diligent as possible in planting the seeds of the gospel, with the full confidence that results of faithful ministry are in God's gracious hands.

View the full statistical report on Connect or purchase a copy from Northwestern Publishing House.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder