2017 Growth and Change

By Rev. Ron McClung

As The Wesleyan Church moves into a new fiscal year of ministry, 2016-2017 closed on an encouraging note.

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Worship Attendance

Worship attendance in The Wesleyan Church in North America reached an all-time high for the tenth consecutive year in 2016-2017. On a typical weekend, nearly 240,000 people walked through the doors of our Wesleyan churches in the United States and Canada. Average attendance has resulted in a decadal growth rate of 22.9 percent.


Baptisms during the past year also hit an all-time high at 12,287. By comparison, 7,836 persons were baptized in our churches in 2007.


Conversions for the past fiscal year totaled 32,141, the fourth largest total on record. In other “dashboard indicators,” total membership dipped slightly to 140,844, as churches adjusted to new parameters for membership approved by the 2016 General Conference.

Some noteworthy district changes occurred this past summer.

Three new Wesleyan district superintendents were elected:

  • The Rev. Wesley Smith was elected by the Northwest District to become its superintendent upon the retirement of former district superintendent, The Rev. Isaac Smith.
  • The Rev. Peter Moore was elected superintendent of the Atlantic District when Dr. H. C. Wilson vacated the office to devote more time as national superintendent of The Wesleyan Church of Canada.
  • Dr. Billy Wilson was elected by the Mountain Plains District to replace outgoing district superintendent, Wesley Smith.

The Eastern New York-New England District Conference voted to change its name to the Northeast District. The Rev. W. Paul James is the district superintendent of Northeast, which includes the eastern counties of New York, and the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Of the 30 North American General Conference districts, the following showed at least a five-percent gain in worship attendance:

  • Chesapeake
  • Distrito Hispano Suroeste
  • Greater Ohio
  • Mountain Plains
  • North Carolina East
  • Shenandoah
  • Western New York

“These stats – along with stories of transformed lives, churches and communities – give us cause for celebration,” said General Superintendent Dr. Wayne Schmidt. “And we do celebrate every time a disciple makes a disciple and a church multiplies itself until The Wesleyan Church has a transforming presence in every ZIP code.”