FALL RIVER, Mass. – The Southern Baptist Convention is making a multi-million dollar push to plant more churches in New England, a region skeptical of the South and increasingly indifferent to religion.
Since 2002, Southern Baptists have spent roughly $5 million to plant churches around the region. Another $800,000 is committed this year.
They've started 133 new churches in that time, a nearly 70 percent increase that brings their regional total to 325.
Hartford Seminary professor Scott Thumma says no denomination is investing as much in New England church planting. He notes that church attendance — which is up 20 percent — is not growing as fast as the number of churches.
Thumma said there's little proof they're reaching area lifers, including the Roman Catholic population and increasing numbers of secularists.