BGCT baptisms set third-highest record in 1999
___By Dan Martin
___Texas Baptist Communications
___Texas Baptists recorded 68,083 baptisms in 1999, the third-highest year since record keeping began in the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
___The 1999 total trails only 1998, when Texas Baptist churches baptized 69,266 people, and 1955, when 69,944 baptisms were reported.
___The baptisms recorded in 1998 and 1999 make the decade of the '90s the second-highest decade for baptisms (633,497), following only the 1950s, when the "Million More in '54" campaign was in full swing and 634,785 baptisms were reported.
___A statistical summary for 1999 released last week shows the BGCT set new records in several key areas, including church membership, Bible study attendance, morning worship attendance and contributions.
___The reports are based on information provided to the BGCT through the Annual Church Profile. All churches are asked each fall to submit the statistical report.
___The 1999 report is based on the data submitted by 4,002 churches and 636 missions for a total of 4,638 congregations, explained Clay Price, manager of research and information services for the BGCT. That means 77 percent of the 5,975 congregations affiliated with the BGCT submitted reports.
___Except for baptisms, "we carried forward selective data from 528 churches and 258 missions--786 congregations--to arrive at the totals," Price said. "We did not, however, carry forward baptisms from 1998. Thus, the baptism total for 1999 is based on the (data) submitted by 77 percent of the churches."
___The baptism totals, therefore, would have been even higher if all congregations had reported.
___"We probably would have topped 70,000 baptisms for 1999 if all the churches had reported," Price said, noting many of those not reporting are smaller congregations, ethnic congregations and pastorless congregations. Also missing from the report this year are 28 churches that have formally affiliated with the newly formed Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and did not report statistical data to the BGCT.
___According to this year's data, baptisms of children under 6 years of age declined to 722 in 1999, compared to 864 in 1998, and baptisms of adults 60 and above increased to 1,549 in 1999, compared to 1,414 the previous year.
___Baptisms in the 35 to 59 age group also increased, to 14,667 last year, compared to 14,602 the previous year.
___Total membership in BGCT-affiliated churches topped 2.7 million for the first time last year. Total membership climbed to 2,716,006, up from 2,691,554 in 1998. Those figures compare with 2,539,117 in 1990. That's 1 percent growth for the year and 7 percent growth for the decade.
___By comparison, the population of Texas was 16.99 million in 1990 and was estimated to be 20 million in 1999, an increase of 3.05 million or 18 percent, Price said.
___Other highlights of the 1999 statistical report:
___ Sunday morning worship service average attendance was 860,658, the highest number to date and a 4 percent increase over the 826,537 reported in 1998 and a 27 percent increase over the 677,815 reported a decade ago.
___ Bible study average weekly attendance was 635,706, also the highest number to date. That's up 1 percent over the 628,467 the previous year and 6 percent over the 600,639 in 1990.
___ Bible study enrollment was up as well, registering 1,442,025. That's up less than 1 percent from the 1998 figure of 1,441,755 and 7 percent over the 1,346,482 enrollment reported in 1990.
___ Total receipts to the churches reached $1,364,020,989, up 7 percent from the $1,275,899,612 given in 1998. When inflation is factored in, 1999 total receipts are up 28 percent over a decade ago, Price said.
___ Undesignated giving was $936,922,155, up 10.5 percent from the $847,703,676 given in 1998, and 47.5 percent over the $635,023,215 given in 1990.
___ Giving to associational missions was $15,435,877, up 4 percent from the $14,806,368 given in 1998 and 38 percent over the $11,182,316 given a decade ago.
___ Vacation Bible School attendance was 456,525, down less than 1 percent from the 458,229 enrolled in 1998.
___ Discipleship training reported 326,419 enrolled and 118,782 in weekly attendance. Enrollment was 378,539 the previous year, yielding a 13.8 percent decrease.
___ Music ministry enrollment was 235,772, down 6 percent from the 1998 enrollment of 251,549.
___ Woman's Missionary Union enrollment was 120,482, a 2 percent increase from 1998 enrollment of 118,168.
___ Brotherhood enrollment was 54,891; and 148,748 people were reported to be involved in a mission project during the year. That's an 11.5 percent increase in missions involvement over last year but a 3.6 percent decrease in enrollment.
___ Value of church property reached $4.74 billion, compared with $4.43 billion in 1998 and $3.56 billion in 1990.
___ Church debt was $532,061,430, compared with $495,714,065 in 1998, and $443,017,425 a decade ago.
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