Presbyterian Congregational Identity and Membership Decline in Yonkers, New York

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Fri, 11/01/1985
End Date: 
Fri, 03/31/1989

In order to understand the changing relationship between Presbyterianism and American culture in the 20th century, Mark Wilhelm researched on Presbyterian congregational identity and membership decline in Yonkers, New York; he also studied the congregational histories of several churches in this metropolitan area where significant membership losses had occurred. Wilhelm focused on the role a church’s congregational identity played in sustaining its ministries despite decades of membership loss and institutional decline. Wilhelm concluded that: (1) an understanding of why congregations have often been able to maintain positive ministries despite membership decline constitutes a significant part of a description of congregational response to that decline; and (2) the historical description of congregational identity helps to provide such an understanding. Wilhelm’s study served as part of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary’s larger project on 20th century American Presbyterian history.