Recent Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the U.S.Census Bureau's figures, West Virginia has grown in population from 1,808,344 in 2000 to 1,852,994 in 2010. This represents a population growth of approximately 2.5% in this time frame. (Of passing interest, please note that the population of the United States as a whole went from 281,421,906 in 2000 to 308,745,538 in 2010, an overall American growth for the decade of 9.7%).

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of West Virginia went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 3,983 in 2000 to 3,015 in 2010. This represents a decline of 24.3% during this decade. Doing some historical digging, I noticed that the Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) in 1994 for West Virginia was 4,511.

To see a pictorial representation of some of the statistics for the diocese of West Virginia you may examine the graph here.

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

23 Comments
Posted June 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm

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1. Statmann wrote:

Not only has ASA declined by almost 25 percent, but between 2002 and 2010 Plate & pledge adjusted for inflation has declined by about 20 percent. Infant Baptisms have dropped by 48 percent and Marriages by 31 percent. In 2010 the Dio had 58 Marriages or less than ONE per each of its 66 churches.  Statmann

June 13, 7:47 pm | [comment link]
2. MichaelA wrote:

What steps are being taken by the Diocese of West Virginia to deal with this rather dramatic decline in Average Sunday Attendance?

June 13, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
3. MichaelA wrote:

Statmann, my post crossed with yours.

That is a rather alarming picture, even by TEC standards. Surely this is reaching the unsustainable stage?

And the picture doesn’t seem much better for ACNA.  There seems to be only one AM congregation in the whole of WV (although as you point out, if they host slightly more than one wedding per week, they will do more than the whole TEC diocese!)

There is also the “House of Prayer” which appears to be a monastic ministry centre rather than a congregation per se.

But whatever, its not much of an Anglican presence in WV.

June 13, 8:16 pm | [comment link]
4. c.r.seitz wrote:

My father and two brothers served as clergy in this state, one presently active. I’d be curious what the numbers were in the period when Bishop Wilburn Camrock Campbell was in charge. He was an outstanding leader, church builder, and defender of the faith (he was one of the ones who sought to bring charges against Pike, I believe alongside Bishop Gray of FL). Granted it was a ‘church attending’ period, but he did an excellent job in a very difficult region to entice clergy to work in.

June 14, 4:11 am | [comment link]
5. Terry Tee wrote:

Chris, I can answer your question.  Here are the figures from the 1972 Red Book aka Episcopal Church Annual.  Campbell was still bishop having been so since 1955:
Parishes and Missions: 78
Clergy:  87
Baptised Persons 19,535
Communicants in Good Standing:  14,025
Infant Baptisms:  342
Adult Baptisms: 50
Marriages:  196
(Parenthetically:  you may wonder why an RC priest has an old Red Book on his bookshelves.  The answer is that I bought a job lot of books from USPG when they moved from the told Tufton St building in Westminster.  Also, I collect reference books.  Some people have sad hobbies ... )

June 14, 9:48 am | [comment link]
6. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#5 Father Tee - you are a mine of useful information.

I couldn’t access the graph for West Virginia but what if found gobsmacking were the figures shown for ASA across the TEC provinces 2000-2010 - in province after province in 10 years TEC lost 25% of its average sunday attendance.

Looking at the loony resolutions slated for the upcoming General Convention in July in the light of that, it is pretty clear that this is a church leadership living in La La Land.  Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

They are coming to take you away ho-ho hee-hee ha-haaa - to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time ... rumpity tumpity tum.

Some days I sit and think. Other days I just sit!!

June 14, 10:15 am | [comment link]
7. David Keller wrote:

I haven’t been paying alot of attention to the TEC numbers lately, but looking at the chart of ASA by Province—the numbers are staggering.

June 14, 5:03 pm | [comment link]
8. c.r.seitz wrote:

I suspect there are local economic and cultural variables, but 34 TEC dioceses have under 3500 ASA. It is probably the case that when you get at this number, you are barely viable (paying a bishop’s salary, staff, etc). One-third of TEC dioceses are in this condition. Obviously their giving to the ‘national church’ must be at an historic low; or nil. The budget for 2013-15 estimates a 19% giving and adjusts that a bit in the notes. One wonders if the yield will be even 12% across the board, as many strong dioceses give little if nothing for matters of conviction (SC, CFL, Dallas, et al).

#5—thanks. My father left Christ Church Fairmont in 1967. One wonders what a 14,005 communicants in good standing translates into the new ASA category. Let’s guess 5500 in 1972.

June 15, 2:58 am | [comment link]
9. evets18 wrote:

Quick! Someone name a liturgical denomination in this country that, not including immigration or some quirk regarding a schism, isn’t losing members/adherents. In fact you might be gobsmacked at some of the losses over the last decade for some of them. TEC losses can look rather quaint by comparison.

I see that you can regurgitate numbers and calculate a percentage, I just don’t see much useful analysis here.

June 15, 2:28 pm | [comment link]
10. Terry Tee wrote:

Well, let’s rise to the challenge.  First of all, why should # 9 exclude immigration?  There has been plnety of that for TEC from countries with a strong Anglican presence, eg Nigeria, the West Indies.  Second, to mention an example that meets the challenge:  the Antiochian Orthodox Church.  Anybody out there got the stats?

June 15, 2:44 pm | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:

I’m with Terry Tee—why exclude immigration when all churches have equal opportunity for immigrants—but only one is growing with immigrants.

And further—why limit it to only “liturgical” denomination—other than that, of course, TEC is liturgical and non-sacramental churches are growing.  ; > )

RE: “TEC losses can look rather quaint by comparison.”

Um—actually . . . TEC losses are faster and more dramatic than the rest of the mainline.

RE: “I just don’t see much useful analysis here.”

No—not useful for revisionists, that’s for sure! Heh.

June 15, 10:29 pm | [comment link]
12. Charles52 wrote:

I was prepared to bet the Catholics hadn’t done too well in West Virginia, either, but it’s not a bad picture at all: 97,232, or 5.4% of the population in 2000; 112,960, or 5.9% in 2010. 

Which leads to an important point when considering church stats: it’s not the raw numbers, but the percentage of the population, that matters. Looking at the Catholic Church, you see a steady rise in numbers, but it’s also been a steady 24-26% of the population in the U.S. and about 18% of the world population since the mid-70s.  Looking at the U.S. alone, it’s generally claimed that the Catholic Church is staying afloat on the basis of immigration, but I’ve not seen real numbers attached to that, and the global picture should be wash anyway. 

Sarah is correct: since the mid-70s, TEC has declined as a percentage of the population from about 2% to something around .8%. That represents about a 40% decline in numbers, but 60% in percentage of the population.  Anyone who cares about an organization should take those sort of nubers seriously.

It is fair to note that several measures of church vitality show decline over the past generation, but numbers are only facet of the story and there are positives as well. Clearly, we are not enjoying another Great Awakening, but neither are things all gloom.

June 15, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
13. c.r.seitz wrote:

#9—are you suggesting that 34 dioceses with under 3500 ASA are somehow magically OK by virtue of some larger declining demographic (which, as indicated, is dubious anyway). How would an alleged decline in Methodism or Lutheranism (neither of which are anywhere near the decline in TEC) serve to vitiate the viability problem in 34 dioceses?

At some point recourse to external comparisons will collapse as the Bishop’s salary and the electricity bill can’t be paid.

Fortunately there are minimal signs that people in power are beginning to ‘get it.’

June 16, 6:45 am | [comment link]
14. evets18 wrote:

According to a Pew report, while 31.4% of Americans say they were raised RC, today only 23.9% say they are affiliated with the RCC. And while RC numbers have remained stable due to immigration, around one-third of those raised RC have left the church. In percentage terms, these are losses that at least rival those of TEC.

The largest non-liturgical denomination, the Southern Baptists, have just reported a decline in membership for the fifth straight year. And one can find even sharper percentage declines in General Social Survey data over the last decade, declines that exceed those of TEC.

If I were making claims that liberal theology was causing declines in TEC’s membership, I wouldn’t want to be unaware that the two largest theologically conservative denominations are also losing members/adherents.

June 16, 9:39 am | [comment link]
15. c.r.seitz wrote:

You fail to answer a simple question: how can TEC remain viable in 1/3 of its dioceses? We are a church with bishops/dioceses. Is the Southern Baptist Church as an entity in peril of collapse? Hardly.

June 16, 9:49 am | [comment link]
16. evets18 wrote:

#15 - I’d like to first hear your solution. Tell me what it is that the people in power should “get.”

June 16, 10:18 am | [comment link]
17. c.r.seitz wrote:

What people in power DO get is that TEC is extremely fragile and the budget for 2013-15 is a cause for widespread concern. Where is the 15-19% going to come from? What will have to be done in the light of this?
But you are one arguing there is nothing critical here. Just typical decline of a kind no different than anywhere else.

June 16, 11:37 am | [comment link]
18. evets18 wrote:

#17 Actually, I don’t disagree with you. Losses in membership by the Southern Baptists and RC’s aren’t going to help TEC. I’m just pointing out that a little context would be helpful when it comes to membership losses. I think the TEC’s problems are at the parish level.

Let me tell you what I believe works. If TEC simply held onto even half of the young people that left the church over the last couple of decades, we’d be growing not shrinking. And I think that this has less to do with liberal versus conservative than you might think.

At the parish I attend, there is an excellent youth program, and not simply because there are a lot of kids. There are a lot of kids because the youth program is so strong. I saw the failures at another parish and I’ve seen the efforts made at this one.

Also, while the priest is a theological liberal, as am I, he tends to soft-pedal controversial issues, which I think is wise. Nothing ever becomes make or break. His sermons are very good and I think most people would find them relevant.

These may seem like trivial items, but I don’t think so. The road back for TEC is a long one but it begins at the parish level.

June 16, 12:27 pm | [comment link]
19. c.r.seitz wrote:

#18 fascinating analysis. I am on staff part of the year at a very large parish in Dallas, and our outreach to youth and young singles would never succeed without clarity about the Gospel. I put our growth down to that. See http://www.incarnation.org if interested. I agree that ‘the road back’ is at the parish level, but sadly that means clarifying the parish and/or diocese vis-a-vis a diminishing ‘national’ church overall. Still, it is fully possible to achieve.

June 16, 12:38 pm | [comment link]
20. Charles52 wrote:

Actually, RCC numbers grow because we don’t cut people from the rolls, as do many churches.  Immigration has nothing to do with that. Unless someone specifically requests it, they stay registered at the Church of their baptism.  The reason we don’t is that many folks turn back to the Church at the end of their lives, whatever they tell survey takers.

Moreover, it’s not placement on a roster that matters, but placement in the pews. Across the board, from Southern Baptist to Catholic, Episcopalian to fundamentalist, that number is abysmal, ranging from 30-40% of membership, unless the roster is routinely culled. Immigration, again, has nothing to do with that.

Of course, all surveys are subject to one serious limitation: we don’t have that much historical data to which we can compare the numbers. What percentage of Catholics didn’t believe in transubstantiation in, say, 1734?

June 16, 12:40 pm | [comment link]
21. Sarah wrote:

RE: “around one-third of those raised RC have left the church. In percentage terms, these are losses that at least rival those of TEC.”

Sure—except they don’t, since the RC church isn’t experiencing *net* losses. 

Really—what an utterly fatuous comparison. Have you no shame at all? It’s not as if readers don’t actually see this, you know. Losing “about one-third of those raised RC” is not the same as losing 1/3 of one’s net ASA.

RE: “The largest non-liturgical denomination, the Southern Baptists, have just reported a decline in membership for the fifth straight year.”

Sure—and they’re in full-blown panic mode over their *teensy* percentage loss.  Again—the percentage declines in the Southern Baptists are as nothing compared to the percentage declines in TEC, and it’s already been stipulated above that there is 1) standard decline in the mainlines while there is also 2) full blown meltdown decline in one particular mainline which happens to be raving revisionist activist at the national level.  Shocking as it may seem to revisionists in TEC, Christians don’t want to join a church that is now announcing the glories and joys of transexualism and attempting to make it canonically illegal to not consider them as excellent candidates for the priesthood. The “market appeal” of such decisions is to an extremely extremely tiny audience in the US.

RE: “I think the TEC’s problems are at the parish level.”

Another facile assertion.

TEC parishes—the *conservative to moderate* TEC parishes—are struggling because they’re having to deal with the utterly catastrophic national brand. TEC is simply no longer an option for actual Christians who are moving to a new community—which is one of the top two main categories for new members in a church—those who move into a community from elsewhere.

RE: “If TEC simply held onto even half of the young people that left the church over the last couple of decades, we’d be growing not shrinking.”

That’s lovely—in my parish, we’ve had scads of young people leave the church of their fathers and grandfathers to join churches *in the local area* whose national denominations are actually Christian. That’s what’s happening all over the country. Whole families in my parish have been gutted of their 20-something children who are worshiping elsewhere in the community—as opposed to the days when multi-generations sat in the same pews.

The fact is . . . TEC is now set up on a national level [and the national brand is a horrible stench to Christians in local communities] to be attractive solely to the teensy number of liberals who are interested in liturgical churches—that’s just not a very large market at all.

June 17, 10:00 am | [comment link]
22. Charles52 wrote:

To the credit of Southern Baptists, they began to address the problem when their baptism rate stagnated a few years ago, before membership actually declined. They recognize a problem as a problem and address it. I haven’t looked a more recent data, so I can’t tell you how effective they have been, but at least they are honest.

June 17, 10:27 am | [comment link]
23. MichaelA wrote:

Evets 18 wrote:

“I think the TEC’s problems are at the parish level.”

Hmmm, nice motherhood statement, but what does it actually mean?

If you say that TEC’s problems are *manifesting* at the parish level, then sure.

But where do the problems *originate*?  How can problems in parishes right across the USA be said to originate “at the parish level?

“If TEC simply held onto even half of the young people that left the church over the last couple of decades, we’d be growing not shrinking.”

Isn’t that a statement of the obvious?

Not to mention wildly counterfactual - so why bring it up?

“And I think that this has less to do with liberal versus conservative than you might think.”

Of course you think this - if you support the current regime in TEC you will continually think of reasons why its not its fault (nor your fault as one of its supporters) that TEC’s numbers are falling dramatically. 

But what objective reason is there to think that you are correct?  You have tried to spin the numbers on this thread, but the stats are obvious - TEC’s losses are exceptional in comparison to any church, and the times when it has most publicly embraced progressive values (e.g. 2003, 2006) are the times when its losses are heaviest.  Occam’s razor - the most obvious explanation is that the combination of liberal teaching and incompetent leadership at 815 are responsible for this.

“These may seem like trivial items, but I don’t think so. The road back for TEC is a long one but it begins at the parish level.”

Have you any objective reason to think that (a) TEC has started on “the road back”; or (b) that your anecdote from your parish has any real relevance to TEC’s trajectory?

June 17, 7:07 pm | [comment link]


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