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Southern Baptists expand north with church plants

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By JAY LINDSAY
Associated Press

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - 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% 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% - 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.

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