Yet another commission reports that TEC is in steep decline. We are helped to digest this news with the sweetener that there are good things going on as we decline! So what happened to us?
The extraordinary thing about all this is our fairly sudden and dramatic collapse. The late fifties were a time of growth in numbers, income and “membership” both in England and the US. Over 3 million people in the US identified themselves as Episcopalians. New church plants were on the rise and special shorter courses were established in seminaries to train older men for ordination. For the CofE, things were better than at any time since Victoria died.
I do not for a moment believe that suddenly in the sixties people became less religious or religiously inclined. I do believe that Anglicanism lost its nerve. I do believe that we began to produce a leadership, lay and ordained, that assumed that the voices heard in academia and among the “culture-vultures” reflected the thoughts of most people. Yet the “intelligentsia” of that day ”“ I am not speaking of truly educated people ”“ no more reflected the feelings and thoughts of every day people then than they do now.
We went for a ride with “right thinking” people and still not cannot get it into our heads that these people, what ever their social or political ideals, are a vocal minority.
The vast majority of people were left out of this small company of the self-obsessed.