More than 1 million people were added to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2021, according to data from the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research (ASTR).
ASTR director Dr David Trim, speaking on day two of the General Conference session, said accessions (the total number of baptisms and professions of faith) had rebounded in 2021 after a marked decline during the pandemic.
“2004 was the first of 16 years in a row of 1 million-plus accessions globally, but then came the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Trim explained.
“From 2019 to 2020 accessions declined by more than half-a-million, going down from 1.32 million to 800,000, which was the lowest global total of accessions since 1997. In 2021, however, despite the ongoing effects of the pandemic, accessions increased by more than 200,000, so that they once again topped 1 million.”
Despite the significant number of people joining the Church, retaining them remains a challenge, with the Church experiencing heavy losses over recent years.
This was particularly true for 2019—”the first ever year in which there were more than 1 million living losses”, Dr Trim said.
“Accessions, deaths and losses together affect church growth—as a result of their interplay, the Church’s reported membership at the end of last year was some 21.91 million.”
Dr Trim also shared data on increases in the number of Church organisations and institutions over the 50-year period from 1970 to 2020, including a rise in the number of unions (by 54%), local conferences/missions (98%), primary schools (64%), high schools (570%) and medical institutions (500%). In the same period, the number of pastors increased by 142% and all other employees by 159%.
“There are trends we need to be aware of and there are areas in which we can and need to do better, but the data shows how God has led and prospered the efforts of His people in mission,” Dr Trim concluded.
Dr Trim’s presentation formed part of the GC Secretary’s report, which also included presentations on the Secretariat’s strategic plan, missionary program, Adventist Volunteer Service and Adventist Mission.
To view the session live go to https://www.gcsession.org/live/.