East Texas pastor talks attendance after study finds that fewer Americans than ever attend houses of worship

Local News

WINONA, Texas (KETK) – For the first time in Gallup poll history, fewer than 50% of Americans said they belonged to a house of worship. The impacts of this are even being felt here in East Texas.

At New Zion Baptist Church in Winona, Pastor S. L. Curry said that even though the church has over 600 members, a good portion of those are inactive.

47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque in 2020, Gallup announced Monday, the lowest number in the poll’s eight-decade trend.

Pastor Curry said that for his church, he feels the lower number of members is due to the pandemic.

“We were preaching to maybe four or five people in the audience when the pandemic first hit, so that’s something,” he said. “I’ve been preaching 39 years and been pastoring 38 years and so that was new to me.”

The Gallup study said that part of the reason for the drop is generational changes, and another cause is the rising number of Americans who express no religious preference.

New Zion Baptist Church has had very few new members join since the start of the pandemic. Curry said that in 2020, the church only had four new members, and they joined right before March when COVID-19 cases rose.

So far this year, Curry said the only new member is a young girl who was baptized Sunday.

Prior to the pandemic, Curry said that the church was taking in 25 new members per year. He hopes to see those numbers continue to rise.

“We’re going to have to do some work as active members, we’re going to have to go out and reach those who are a little hesitant to come back,” Curry said.

Currently, 31% of millennials say they have no religious affiliation, up from 22% ten years ago, while 33% of Generation Z have no religious preference.

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