Charlotte, NC is an incredibly diverse community with many practicing faith groups and faith traditions. This year in order to learn about this community – and many others with the same faith groups – I decided to write 365 articles (one per day) on a faith community. I hope through these articles we can learn about faith groups and faith practices in our city and around the world.
City Data lists major religious groups of Charlotte as: Evangelical Protestant 22%; Mainline Protestant 15%; Black Protestant 3%; Catholic 9%; Orthodox 1%; Other 2%; and no affiliation as 48%. This means that our city is about 50% Christian; 2.3% other faiths; and 48% who claim not to practice any faith.
Within Evangelical Protestant Baptists are the largest group with 161 congregations and 83,078 members representing 13.5% of the population. United Methodists are the second largest denomination with 61 congregations and 58,637 members representing 8% of the population. Because of Scotch-Irish migration Presbyterian churches in Mecklenburg County have a lengthy history. Today there are 75 congregations representing several Presbyterian denominations, and 38,300 members within these congregations.
Migration patterns have changed Charlotte over the past thirty years bringing a population from other regions of our nation. According to City Data the second largest religious denomination in our community is the Catholic Church, with 15 congregations and 78,021 members. Because of population shift, Charlotte is home to many faiths of the world with congregations scattered around the city.
International congregations have sprung up not only as new denominations, but also within historic Christian denominations in Charlotte. Several churches cater to a variety of language groups by offering these groups places to worship in their native language. Faith groups from around the world bring their own ethnic culture to our city.
Charlotte, an international city is home not only to a Christian population, but also religious groups from all over the world including Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i, and Wiccan groups. These other denominations represent 2.3% of our population with 68 congregations and 20,979 adherents.
Beyond the religious groupings which show up on City Data, other groups exist even among the 442,000 who profess no faith. Some people practice their faith in the privacy of their home, other religious groups are so small they can meet in a home as one, two, or three families. Religious groups also meet on several college campuses across the city as part of campus ministries. And some practice their religion in secret.
Home grown, transplanted and imported religious groups are changing the make-up of Charlotte. Sometimes people turn their backs and ignore outsiders immigrating to or community. But turning our backs on people who are different than us neither makes them go away nor does it build a stronger community. People have moved to Charlotte because of the tremendous business opportunity, and most immigrants improve our community in some way.
Over the next year I would like to look at faith groups in our community, how they interact and interconnect, and how they come together for worship and celebrations. Through understanding we can see how people relate to each other, the community, the world, and to God.