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 - Faith & Values

FAITH & VALUES SATURDAY • April 21, 2001


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News and notes of interest to the religious, spiritual and volunteer communities of metro Atlanta
From staff and wire reports
Saturday, April 21, 2001

By the numbers: SBC members near 16 million

Membership in churches of the Southern Baptist Convention is nearing the 16 million mark.

The total number of members reached an all-time high of 15,960,308 in 2000, the denomination reported.

That total reflects a 0.68 percent increase of 108,552 members, according to the Annual Church Profile, compiled by the LifeWay Christian Resources division of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The 2000 total of 414,657 baptisms represented a decline of 4,685 from 1999. Sunday morning average worship attendance increased 2.33 percent, totaling 5,544,439 in 2000, compared with 5,418,348 in 1999.

Total receipts were $8,437,177,940, an increase of 8.55 percent.

Sunday school enrollment increased by 38,958, or 0.48 percent, in 2000. The total enrollment of 8,186,415 followed a 0.01 percent decrease in 1999.

'OLD ORDER' GROUPS: Amish thriving

Amish communities and other isolated religious colonies are thriving by persuading their children to continue their largely preindustrial ways and remain with their churches, according to a new study.

The Amish, the largest of four ''Old Order'' groups examined, keep more than 75 percent of their children in the fold, according to the study.

Hutterites, the nation's oldest rigidly communal Protestant order, persuade more than 95 percent of their young to remain in the large agricultural communes located mostly in the northwestern United States and western Canada.

''Simply making babies will not ensure growth,'' said Don Kraybill, co-author of the study. ''Children must be persuaded to stay with the church as adults. And the surprise is that they are.''

Results from the 10-year study have been compiled in a book published this month, ''On the Backroad to Heaven'' (Johns Hopkins University Press). It is billed as one of the most extensive studies ever conducted of the Old Order religious groups.

UNIFICATION CHURCH: 'We Will Stand' tour

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon culminated a 52-city speaking tour upholding marriage and traditional families with a Washington appearance this week.

''The divorce rate of around 50 percent is completely obliterating the sanctity of the family,'' said the Unification Church leader in prepared remarks before 2,000 people, including many clergy.

''The fact that black people, white people and yellow people (can be) married couples is among the most significant factors in accomplishing God's will.''

The ''We Will Stand'' tour has drawn an estimated 100,000 listeners nationwide, The Washington Times reported. It began Feb. 25 in the Bronx, N.Y., and Moon was scheduled to complete his travels with appearances in West Virginia and Vermont on Tuesday. The tour passed through Atlanta last month.

Officials have described the tour as a ''substantial interfaith movement.'' Blacks and Asians from the nation's inner cities have especially supported the events that have focused on traditional sexual morality and racial reconciliation.

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