Category : TEC Data
Read it all. The whole piece as well as the links and comments are well worth the time. Of all the bits, I found this most revealing. If you look through the Christian Century article you see this quote:
[James B. Lemler, Episcopal director of mission] also said that officials were heartened that average Sunday attendance in 2005 did not decline as it did in the previous two years. The average Sunday worship attendance in 2005 was 787,000 people, down only 8,500.
Since that time, according to the most recent data available (from 2017) ASA has declined to 556,744, a decline of more than 29%.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 21, 2018
One significant cause of the decline in Episcopal attendance in recent years is, of course, the schism that began after the General Convention of 2003 consented to the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a relationship, as Bishop of New Hampshire.
In the following decade, five diocesan conventions voted to leave the Episcopal Church: Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, South Carolina, and San Joaquin. Some congregations in each diocese remained with the Episcopal Church, effectively splitting each diocese. The small remnant of the Diocese of Quincy was absorbed by the Diocese of Chicago; ASA in the other four dioceses all declined 70 to 80 percent in the past decade, by far the worst declines in the church. (These statistics, drawn from the parochial reports filed by every Episcopal church, are available from the Research and Statistics section of episcopalchurch.org.)
The departures had a dramatic effect in those dioceses, and individual parishes elsewhere in the country have also left the Episcopal Church. Most of the departing dioceses and congregations have joined the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), founded in 2009. But nationally, ACNA is dwarfed by the Episcopal Church. Based on reports from the two churches, ACNA had 111,853 members, while the Episcopal Church was 16 times larger, with 1,779,335 baptized members.
Still, ACNA membership is growing, while Episcopal numbers are declining. With declining attendance comes declining revenues. The church does not exist for the purpose of making money, of course — but eventually money has a kind of veto power. If a church fails to pay the electric bill for enough months in a row, the lights will be turned off.
Real estate poses a particular problem for cash-strapped congregations and dioceses.
Episcopalians have yet to hit bottom in their downward membership spiral that began in the early 2000s.
Updated statistics made available today by the Episcopal Church General Convention Office show a denomination continuing a sustained decline in 2016 to 1,745,156 domestic members. The U.S.-based denomination shed 34,179 members, a decline of 1.9 percent, while attendance losses were relatively limited compared to previous years, declining 9,327, down 1.6 percent. A net 37 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,473 congregations.
Among dioceses facing the largest declines is Eastern Michigan, which dropped 14.7 percent from 5,888 down to 5,022 members (-866). The diocese also saw a 3.5 percent drop in Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), down to 1,922 attendees.
The diocese’s past bishop, Todd Ousley, recently joined the staff of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to serve as bishop for pastoral development after 16 years serving in Michigan. In a letter to the diocese, the local standing committee wrote about its decision to pursue a provisional bishop rather than seek a new diocesan bishop to replace Ousley.
[Jeremy] Bonner’s analysis shows how TEC has dramatically declined in recent years. There is a sense that the wider Anglican Communion has not awakened to how far and fast that decline has happened. In significant parts of the United States, TEC has ceased or will soon cease to have a meaningful presence. That said, those who write TEC off are overstating their case. Despite severe decline, it remains a substantial presence in parts of the nation, especially in some major cities.
Estimating the size of TEC’s decline and understanding its causes is complex. Suggesting remedies is beyond the scope of this short article. But a few things can be said.
First, churches need to face demographic realities. If, for example, a city’s or town’s ethnic make-up shifts, wise dioceses and congregations will adapt, not pretend everything is the same.
Second, denominations have to learn to value the local church theologically. If the local church is seen only as an adjunct to some higher good, often called the kingdom, it is not surprising that little effort is made to multiply such congregations or seek their growth. Seeing kingdom as different from, and better than, church is against the grain of the New Testament, in which local churches are integral to the kingdom. The things that we value are the things that tend to flourish. If we want to see growing local churches, we need a theology that values the local church more.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) October 28, 2016
(TEC Office of Statistics)
You can find a chart of some recent parish statistics there.
Declines in Episcopal Church membership continue a downward spiral that began in the early 2000s. Updated statistics made available this week by the Episcopal Church Office of Research show a denomination continuing a gradual, uninterrupted decline in 2015. The U.S.-based denomination shed 37,669 members in 2015, a decline of -2.1 percent, while attendance declined -20,631, down -3.4 percent. A net 43 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,510 congregations.
The pattern is consistent with past years, in which dioceses in New England, the Rust Belt and predominantly rural areas post sharp declines, while dioceses in the South either retain their numbers or decline at a more gradual rate.
Episcopal Church officials, including former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori ”” who completed a nine-year term in office in late 2015 ”” have predicted that decline would level off after years of internal dispute and the departure of dioceses, congregations and individual members. While there were no major congregational departures in 2015, the denomination still exceeded its baseline rate of decline of approximately 28,000 members a year by a substantial margin. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has struck an optimistic tone, encouraging the church to embrace its role in “the Jesus Movement” even as he seeks to address a workplace culture marked by “fear, mistrust and resentment” at the church’s national headquarters.
New Hampshire Episcopalians just reported a banner year. After a decade of consistent losses under now-retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the small diocese reported a nearly 23 percent jump in attendance.
What is the secret to New Hampshire’s sudden reversal of fortune? The diocese, which Bishop Robert Hirschfeld assumed leadership of in 2013, changed whom it is counting in a practice that has been advocated by some in the dwindling denomination.
A sudden influx of worshipers would seem counter-intuitive: ever since Robinson was consecrated the denomination’s first openly-partnered homosexual bishop in 2003, diocesan membership declined nearly 16 percent, marriages down 37 percent, receptions down 51 percent, children’s baptisms down 57 percent, and adult baptisms down 75 percent. In short, it’s been a tough decade, not only in New Hampshire, but in all New England Episcopal dioceses….
The decreasing numbers have had an effect upon the ability of smaller congregations to employ full-time clergy. In a first, a plurality of Episcopal congregations in 2014 (34.5%) have only a part-time or unpaid priest, outnumbering those with a lone full-time priest.
More than a century of…[Episcopal] worship in Nyssa is coming to a close.
Dwindling membership has led St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to seek permission to close. After several months spent looking for options, the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon has consented.
“There are so few of them,” the Rt. Rev. Bavi Edna “Nedi” Rivera said. “Several of the members are older and some of them have moved away to places where they can get ”¦ care or be near family.”
“Despite the tendency of new congregations to grow, the impact of these congregations on the level of attendance in the Episcopal Church is relatively small ””simply because there are so few of them.”
Take the time to read through it all.
Statistics released this week by the denomination’s Office of Diocesan and Congregational Ministries indicate that Jefferts Schori is leaving her successor, Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry, with decline that is steepening rather than tapering off.
The church’s domestic U.S. membership dropped 2.7 percent from a reported 1,866,758 members in 2013 to 1,817,004 in 2014, a loss of 49,794 persons. Attendance took an even steeper hit, with the average number of Sunday worshipers dropping from 623,691 in 2013 to 600,411 in 2014, a decline of 23,280 persons in the pews, down 3.7 percent.
The numbers are significantly worse than 2013, when the church reported a 1.4 percent decline in membership and 2.6 percent decline in average Sunday attendance. One contributing factor is figures from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), the local Episcopal Church jurisdiction formed after the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina departed the denomination in the autumn of 2012.
It was clear that all four denominations were declining, but that in Wales, Scotland and the USA the Anglican churches were declining much faster than the Church of England. Both the C in W and the SEC had potential extinction dates about 2040, with ECUSA possibly lasting 10-15 years longer. Indeed, although the Church of England is declining, it is only on the margins of extinction if the current pattern remains, thus unlikely to face extinction this century.
Rather than just repeat the standard reasons given for church decline, in the light of the contrasts in decline patterns, I would rather look at a different question: What does the Church of England have, that the other three denominations do not, that may have helped reduce the effects of numerical decline?
Here are some suggestions, not exhaustive, and some may be a bit controversial….
The report reveals that in U.S. dioceses, baptisms are down five percent from 27,140 in 2012 to 25,822 in 2013. Similarly, marriages are down four percent from 10,366 to 9,933 (the denomination has seen a 40 percent decline in children baptized since 2003 and a 46 percent decline in marriages over the same period). The losses are not evenly distributed, with some dioceses performing worse than others: in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, where an ordained Buddhist was elected (and later failed to gain consent from other dioceses) to be bishop in 2009, zero children were confirmed in 2013.
Episcopal “renewing” dioceses in San Joaquin and Fort Worth are also continuing to struggle: Fort Worth closed five parishes in 2013 (from 22 to 17), with San Joaquin closing two (21 to 19). Pittsburgh added one new parish (36 to 37). Other diocese closing parishes include Maryland (4) and Massachusetts (3), with most of the dioceses in Northeastern Province 1 seeing the closure of at least one parish.
Despite continuing to claim over 70 parishes and 28,000 members following the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (DioSC) and the vast majority of its parishes ending their affiliation with the Episcopal Church, the renewing Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) has posted updated information on baptisms and weddings, showing a drop from 388 children’s baptisms in 2012 to only 135 in 2013. South Carolina reported 170 children and 143 adults confirmed in 2012, dropping to 54 children and 37 adults in 2013.
–2012 Table of Statistics of the Episcopal Church
–Domestic Fast Facts: 2012
–Episcopal Domestic Fast Facts Trends: 2009-2013
–Statistical Totals for the Episcopal Church by Province: 2012-2013
–Statistical Totals for the Episcopal Church by Province and Diocese: 2012-2013
–Membership and Attendance Totals for the Episcopal Church: 2013
The most significant measure remains average Sunday attendance, and you can see the Ten Year % Change in ASA has gone from -23% in 2011 to -24% in 2012. This does not reflect the completely fallacious way in which the diocese of South Carolina’s majority membership is still included in these figures; if it were the decline would be even greater–KSH.
You can find all of the links at the bottom of this page and you should examine them all.
At some point, young people contemplating a clerical career will have to consider just how long there will indeed be a church for them to serve.
This isn’t meant to be panic-mongering, and infinite extrapolations rarely follow exact lines. But if any church is losing 2.6 percent of its attenders every year ”“ not every decade ”“ it should be deeply alarmed. Why isn’t it?
The church has faced steep losses since the early 2000s with a perfect storm of changing demographics, low fertility and departures by traditionalists.
The 2013 reporting year saw a continuation of the downward trend, with a membership drop of 27,423 to 1,866,758 (1.4 percent) while attendance dropped 16,451 to 623,691 (2.6 percent). A net 45 parishes were closed, and the denomination has largely ceased to plant new congregations.
The new numbers do not factor in the departure of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, of which the church continues to report over 28,000 members and over 12,000 attendees, despite the majority of South Carolina congregations severing their relationship with the Episcopal Church at the end of 2012. If South Carolina departures were factored in, the membership loss would be closer to 50,000 persons.
Diocesan Baptized membership: 12,645; in 1998, this number was 16,852
Average Sunday attendance: 4,328
With clergy full time: 26
With clergy part-time: 30
With supply clergy: 10
Priests: 83 (including parochial, non-parochial, retired, and licensed but not canonically resident)
Deacons: 28 canonically resident, with 17 active
Parish staffing statistics
Fifteen of our parishes share clergy. In 2014, six of our parishes will move from full time clergy to
part-time. About half of our parishes have half-time or quarter-time clergy.
Christian Formation in our parishes
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye upon you.”
Thirty-seven of our parishes offer church school.Twenty-three of our parishes have a mid-week
Twelve of our parishes reported persons under the age of 16 being confirmed.
In 1998, 52 of our parishes reported having some form of Adult Education; in 2013, 34 did.
For the Episcopal Church Office of Communication, 2013 was a remarkable year.
“The year 2013 showed continued dramatic growth in audiences for all of our digital publications, our website and our social media outlets,” noted Anne Rudig, Director of Communication. Our internal and external media relations efforts yielded some significant placements and much expanded activity.”
“It’s something that had to happen,” said senior warden Calvin Hefner. “The finances were a small portion of our problems. We simply were not able to move forward as a vestry.”
The Rev. Canon Michael Hunn, who represents Bishop Michael Curry and also is in charge of church transitions, says the diocese had worked with the congregation, including a series of meetings held over the last year.
“We were aware because of recent history that the finances were in dire shape,” Hunn said. However, he acknowledged problems within the church went further than the ledgers: “It’s been a struggling situation for some time.”
[Bumped from Saturday]
Jeff Walton, Anglican program director at the Institute on Religion & Democracy, told The Christian Post that these losses may even be larger than what is recorded.
According to Walton, TEC’s numbers are not factoring in the losses it technically sustained when the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina voted to leave the denomination last year.
“The reported nearly 29,000 member drop does not include an estimated 22,000 that departed with the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina in November of 2012. So the real decline is about 51,000 persons,” said Walton. “The Episcopal Church is continuing a gradual, predictable decline in both members and attendance.”
[Bumped from Saturday]
Read it all and think about what is said and left unsaid.
As posted on the TREC website: “The members of the Taskforce want to hear the memories, hopes and dreams that people have for The Church. We are trying to reach as many people as we can over the next few months. We will use what we hear to help us shape recommendations for The Church’s structure, administration and governance.”
TREC member the Rev. Joseph M.C. Chambers pointed out, “The Engagement Kit on the web offers an opportunity for people to participate as individuals, even though it was designed for in-person gatherings. “
Check out the material in the top links under each category and see what, if anything else, you observe.
Is the primary problem TEC faces today a “structural problem?” While we clearly have structural issues, I do not think we have yet come up with the right diagnosis. I would point to two issues that are symptomatic of our situation.
First, we have been involved in serious conflict for the past decade that has held the attention of our leadership, led to an acceleration of our decline and costs us millions of dollars in litigation. Like it or not, this conflict is related directly to our theological and missional identity, namely who are we and what we are called to do. I would caution that just because one side in the conflict seems to have won, this does not mean that we have determined an identity and way forward, especially a way that is significant to our wider cultural context. If the Episcopal Church is to have a future other than shrinking numbers, budgets, and congregations, we must be able to reach people in our society and draw them into this part of the body of Christ.
Second, there continues to be a major disconnect between our corporate structures and the local congregation. We continue to hear from denominational leaders that recent decisions have made us more viable to new generations and new ethnic groups which is making us a more inclusive and multi-cultural church. However, the numbers of declining congregations and the reality in the field is that local congregations are not, nor are most becoming, the kind of church that General Convention and the Executive Council say we are. Of course, we have some congregations that reflect this, but they are far from the norm of our local congregational life. I have spent much time over the last ten years visiting Episcopal Churches and making presentations on congregational development. I observe that many of our congregations are struggling with basic survival issues.
Unlike steep declines in membership, finances, and number of parishes that have negatively impacted the life of the Episcopal Church, the denomination has seen a more gradual decline in priests, maintaining ”“ in some areas like Virginia and Texas ”” more than enough to meet its needs. While rural congregations do struggle to attract or support full-time paid clergy, an overall ample supply of priests is surprising, given that a recent report on the state of the clergy in the Episcopal denomination identified a 26 percent drop in ordinations over the past six years….
The average age at ordination is now 44 (up from the early 30s in 1970) and the average age of active Episcopal clergy is 58.
According to the U.S.Census Bureau’s figures, the state of Missouri has grown in population from 5,595,211 in 2000 to 5,988,927 in 2010. This represents a population growth of approximately 6.6% in this time frame. Please note, however, that there are two Episcopal dioceses in Missouri and that this one encompasses the eastern portion of the state and its see city is Saint Louis. According to the U.S.Census Bureau’s figures, Saint Louis as a city went from a population of 348,189 in 2000 to a population of 318,069 in 2010, a decline of about 9.5%.
According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of Missouri went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 5185 in 2000 to 4128 in 2010. This represents a decline of 20.4% during this decade. Doing some historical digging, I noticed that the Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) in 1994 for Missouri was 5644.
To see a pictorial representation of some of the statistics for the diocese of Missouri you may examine the graph here.