Evangelical Church membership stable in 2009

By William GreenThe Austrian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions reported today (Fri) its membership had remained stable last year.The Church said 3,128 people had left and 839 had joined in 2009. At the end of the year, it had 325,314 members, down 0.69 per cent year on year.The number of people who left it last year was 3.58 per cent higher than the figure for 2008, and the number of people who joined it was 1.45 higher than 2008, Church officials said.Bishop Michael B√ľnker said: “Each departure is one too many.” He added that his goal was to have more people join than leave the Church each year. He also noted that parish membership figures had been placed in a centralised database for the first time last year.The news comes after Catholic press agency Kathpress reported earlier this week that 53,216 people had left the Church last year – 30.9 per cent more than in 2008. The departures amounted to 0.96 per cent of all Austrian Catholics.The number of Catholics in Austria at the end of 2009 was 5.53 million, down by 0.8 per cent from the 5.58 Catholics at the end of 2008, Kathpress said.