Further steep decline reported in The Episcopal Church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church continuesin its course of a steep decline in the wake of its divisions over doctrine and discipline, with the national office reporting that in 2009 average Sundayattendance (ASA) fell by three percent to 682,963.

As of the end of 2009, the Episcopal Church reported having 2,006,343 active members—at its peak in the 1960s the Church counted over 3.5million members. The church shed 22,294 members in 2009, following a loss of 22,565 in 2008. Income from parochial giving also declined by 2.8 per cent last year, falling to £1.33 billion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Data* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

19 Comments
Posted November 19, 2010 at 4:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Fradgan wrote:

This is truly a mystery.  What could have happened to cause legions of believers to abandon the Episcopal church?  I’ll work on it and let you know when I figure it out as soon as I get from church.  Tonight, the lesbian Bishop and her lesbian lover are hostessing a traditional Hopi yarn twisting to celebrate the upcoming Feast of the Cold Weather.

November 19, 6:39 pm | [comment link]
2. Already left wrote:

And this is all predicated on the 2009 numbers being truthful!?!

November 19, 6:58 pm | [comment link]
3. LumenChristie wrote:

Although many of the priests I know, including myself, make a real effort to locate actual members, the average Episcopal church has a LOT of ghost members in their registers: people who have never asked for a letter of transfer, or notified the parish in any way of moving away or death in the family.  Unless you do a serious head count with a lot of phone calls, those “lost” folks just stay on the rolls.  My guess would be that a lot of those ghosts don’t really exist as “active” members.

The average Episcopalian seems to go to church, on the average, twice a month—every other week.  So take the ASA of 682,963 and double it (to account for the “missing half” each week) and then let’s add half of the ASA again just to be generous.  This adds up to 1,707,407.  To get a total “active” membership of at least 2 million, you would have to triple the ASA.  Where are those other 1,365,000 or so folks on all those Sundays?

That, of course, is merely a gues-timate, but one based on observation of behavior.  I would be willing to bet a lot that the real membership number is way below 2 million.

November 19, 7:12 pm | [comment link]
4. deaconjohn25 wrote:

It is sad what is going on in the Episcopal Church and other mainstream Protestant churches. The irony is that in the Roman Catholic church there are plenty of supposedly intelligent people who, in pursuit of their religiously correct “mod” agendas
want to take our Church down the same road to near self-destruction.
Interesting that as numbers melt away from the Episcopal Church, according to the report the church continues to grow in wealth. Is there a connection????

November 19, 7:39 pm | [comment link]
5. Choir Stall wrote:

So, at the current trend, it is safe to say that the Episcopal Church will fall below 2 Million members within the next 18 months?
I’d say that somebody better get a clue.

November 19, 9:22 pm | [comment link]
6. Cennydd13 wrote:

I think it’s a certainty.

November 19, 9:25 pm | [comment link]
7. A Senior Priest wrote:

Does anyone at all believe that the so-called Diocese of Haiti has 83k congregants when they have around 45 active clergy, SUPPOSEDLY 85 extant congregations, and ASA rises from 12k to 16k 2003-2008? Supposedly. I bet 5k congregants actual, and 3k genuine (as distinct from fictional) ASA. And Mrs S wants ten mil to give them? All I can say is LOL!

November 19, 9:30 pm | [comment link]
8. martin5 wrote:

After holding steady for a number of years, the Church began its sharp decline in the wake of the divisions surrounding the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, as four dioceses, dozens of congregations and tens of thousands Episcopalians withdrew from the Church.
This is not quite true. While some left in 2002, 2003 and 2004 because of Robinson and what that meant. Many have been leaving since 2006 due to the leadership of Schori. Not because she is a women (though for some that is an issue and wanted oversight) so much as her teachings are not Christian. She is not alone for there are many leaders in TEC that agree with her. As you will see from 2006, there has been a steady decline:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Domestic_FAST_FACTS_Trends__2005-2009.pdf

November 19, 10:15 pm | [comment link]
9. David Hein wrote:

Martin5: I think you’re right to suggest that some left in ‘03 but more starting around ‘06. But my sense is that, while that’s undoubtedly true for many, I’d add that perhaps some of those left because they didn’t see remediation coming. At first they did—via the quite reasonable Windsor Report—but then they were disappointed. Very disappointed. Might that not have caused the departure of some, when they simply could hope and hold on no longer and the only option was to vote with their feet?

November 19, 11:09 pm | [comment link]
10. Statmann wrote:

Members in TEC (USA) fell below 2 million in 2009, but misreporting by Fort Worth and Quincy kept the number above 2 million. Also. misreporting by Los Angeles amd Ohio added to the bogus figure.  Statmann

November 19, 11:18 pm | [comment link]
11. David Hein wrote:

#3: Good work. That 1.7m looks like a much harder and more realistic number to me.

November 19, 11:22 pm | [comment link]
12. martin5 wrote:

David, they voted with their feet and more often with their priest. All of a sudden they have another option. Faced with a building and questionable teaching vs unknown future but solid Christian teaching .... Some fought for their building, but many just walked away. In some cases, whole congregations walked away to start anew.

November 19, 11:34 pm | [comment link]
13. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Here is the best statement in the whole article.

“This is a cataclysmic decline that suggests the immediate need for an all-hands-on-deck leadership summit focusing entirely on the issue of evangelism and parish health. Not only is the TEC leadership not doing this, the fact that they are not doing it is not even bothering them — a truly tragic situation,” Canon Harmon noted.

Yep. The church is in decline and the leadership just doesn’t care. Just give us our property and we will be happy.

November 20, 12:45 am | [comment link]
14. A Senior Priest wrote:

” the immediate need for an all-hands-on-deck leadership summit focusing entirely on the issue of evangelism and parish health” - actually a summit focusing on ORTHODOXY. That’s all that’s needed.

November 20, 2:00 am | [comment link]
15. Larry Morse wrote:

But it appears that many who have walking out are NOT walking into another church. This is a double loss.  Larry

November 20, 8:47 am | [comment link]
16. FatherS wrote:

On the upside, however, we’re now the largest by far of all the vagans jurisdictions.

November 20, 10:24 am | [comment link]
17. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

I think part of the problem is that we can’t have an open discussion about what is wrong with the leadership and direction of the church. We need to ask serious questions about “Why are we badly led?” The response, however, is automatically something emotive like, “Why do you hate gay people?”
It’s like we get into screaming matches about the deck chairs while the ship is listing out of control near the iceberg.

November 20, 10:28 am | [comment link]
18. wildfire wrote:

It would be instructive to learn from someone with actuarial expertise what the expected number of deaths and long term disabilities is for a population of 700,000 whose median age is 60—roughly TEC’s demographic profile.  TEC’s ASA declines on average by 20-25,000 every year.  I suspect that most of these people are not walking out in protest—they are being carried out!  But there is no reason to join TEC—the real scandal.

November 20, 11:37 am | [comment link]
19. lostdesert wrote:

#18 - Not so being carried out.  I walked out.  Left the church after they really got out the socialism megaphone.  I am not a young person.  Left anyway, starting over in a new in a non-episcopal church, one which seems to be orthodox; with a really a wonderful message.  Don’t underestimate the power of people to renew their faith.  My priest try to insult and bully me.  None of it mattered, he was a phony. 

My job is to find Christ and find the true message.  I am heart broken that it is not in my beloved Episcopal Church, but, that cannot be helped.  I still cry in my new pew.  Crying over what is lost. 

We should be happy about what has been gained.  Look at how many have woken up to the false preaching.  That is the good news and we are living proof that Christ’s message is alive and well and we are willing to pay the price to find it.

November 20, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
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