Since Lexington has an upcoming Diocesan election, I decided to look at some history and and lo and behold the statistics for that diocese were discussed in a post and spirited discussion on August 14, 2009 with the title “Kendall Harmon: Significant Subsurface Deterioration in the Episcopal Church”. For starters, that whole blog post and all the comments are well worth the time to reread.
Since that blog post was nearly three years ago, the statistics in view were those from 2007–
If you look at baptized membership, Lexington shrank from 8949 in 1997 to 8002 in 2007. That is a decline of 10.6%. Now, however, consider the more meaningful number, Average Sunday Attendance. In this category, Lexington fell from 3905 to 2973 in the period from 1997-2007. That is a decline of 24%.
If you now go to the research and statistics website of the Episcopal Church, you can look at an update of these numbers for 2010. These figures show 2010 baptized membership of the diocese of Lexington at 7504 and Average Sunday Attendance at 2,693. If you now consider the 13 year trend, note that the decline in baptized membership from 1997 to 2010 is 16.15% and that of Average Sunday Attendance is just over 31%.
Also note that according to the U.S.Census Bureau’s figures, Lexington, the see city of the diocese, has grown in population from 260,512 in 2000 to 295,803 in 2010. This represents a population growth of approximately 13.5% in this time frame (the growth for the whole state of Kentucky’s population was 7.4% during this period).
Now, consider all this and ask yourself this question–given these trends and numbers, what is the one question you really must ask of each finalist to be next bishop in Lexington? Why something about their vision and strategy for growth and for reversing the precipitous decline, surely. And yet was such a question asked in the published profiles? No. This is what I mean by deep denial–KSH.