Living Church: Blue Book Report Warns of Long Term Episcopal Church Decline

More than five years later, tensions caused by the consecration of a partnered homosexual man as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire continue to affect half of all Episcopal churches, according to census information compiled in the Blue Book prepared for the 76th General Convention, to be held July 8-17 in Anaheim, Calif.

The report, based on results from 783 completed surveys, is a sober snapshot of an aging denomination, struggling with unresolved conflict and in danger of long-term decline. It was written by the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church and included in the Blue Book report published in advance of Convention.

“In prior years the Committee on the State of the Church often heard the criticism that our church seemed unwilling to recognize the presence of a major source of internal controversy that some argued was having an impact on our common life, as reflected in declining membership and attendance statistics,” the Blue Book Report states. “The metaphor most often used was that we ”˜failed to acknowledge the elephant in the room’, referring to what many viewed as the momentous decision by the 74th General Convention (2003) to consent to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

29 comments on “Living Church: Blue Book Report Warns of Long Term Episcopal Church Decline

  1. A Senior Priest says:

    Actually, the correct term is not “decline” it’s irreversible death-spiral. Though I hold office in TEC and pretty much stuff my opinions on this topic in public discourse, I do quite sincerely believe that not only is TEC irrevocably spiraling downward, such a consequence for the leadership’s actions is to be regarded as a necessary result of heretical decisions which have caused the Lord to prune this particular branch of the Vine. Within a few decades TEC will be SMALLER than ACNA, I predict.

  2. robroy says:

    Senior Priest is correct. The forces that are at work in the TEClub are defocusing or centrifugal (moving away from center).

  3. Bishop Daniel Martins says:

    I also am a priest in TEC and also believe Senior Priest is correct. Individual communities, however, can possibly survive the apotheosis and emerge on the other side to help poke through the ruins and put something new together. At least that’s where I’ve put my marbles.

  4. Jim the Puritan says:

    I don’t see TEC lasting for another 10 years. It’s basically gone the same way as “fraternal” organizations of the 19th, early 20th century such as the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, etc.

  5. Undergroundpewster says:

    And the Dio of SC was the only one that grew…I note the lack of speculation in the report as to why that might be.

  6. jkc1945 says:

    TEC is not, by any means, the only denomination that is suffering this decline, and for the same fundamental reasons. When the religious authorities of the Jews found “new ways to serve new Gods,” the Glory of the Lord left the temple, and visibly moved away. So it is now; God will remain where He is truly welcome, and He seems to measure His welcome by our willingness to live by His precepts. Failure to do so apparently causes God to feel He has “worn out His welcome,” and He simply abandons those who have already abandoned Him.

  7. Fr. Dale says:

    The decline of TEC reminds me in some respects to the Shakers. Both began in England. Neither the Shakers or TEC is much on breeding or successful evangelism. Both believe that everybody could find God within him or herself and both focused on the furniture.

  8. Henry says:

    [blockquote] Within a few decades TEC will be SMALLER than ACNA, I predict. [/blockquote]
    That is the only point you make, Sr. Priest, that I disagree with….I don’t think it will take a few decades!

  9. A Senior Priest says:

    LOL! Thanks Henry #8… may it be so! And I do agree with Dan Martins. In the diocese in which I serve the only really solvent congregations are orthodox ones, with maybe 3 headed by revisionists doing ok, as well. The more moribund churches the diocese closes (may that be so, as well) the greater the preponderance of orthodox clergy.

  10. Henry Greville says:

    Perhaps most alarming in the latest “State of the Church” report is that “the Baptismal Covenant” from the baptismal rite in the 1976 BCP is singled out – twice! – as foundational normative theology for the Episcopal Church, while there is no mention of the historic affirmations of Christianity found in the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed and no mention of sacramental theology.

  11. Franz says:

    Well of course ECUSA is declining. If one maintains that Jesus of Nazareth is not the Christ, but one among many (optional) avenues to an (undefined) salvation, the question then becomes, “why bother?”

    There are two possible responses to those currently holding the reins at ECUSA. (1) They are straying from the truth of Christianity in dangerous ways, in which case, if you are a believing Christian, you should run, not walk, away or (2) you accept what they are teaching as true, in which case they are ultimately pointless, and a Sunday morning at the ashram or the golf course, ski slope or beach is as valid as one spent at church, so why bother.

  12. Fr Nathan says:

    We have what I call the “Anti-Chicken Little” phenomenon in the Anglican Church of Canada- “The sky isn’t falling, the sky isn’t fallin…” Thump!

  13. palagious says:

    Good riddance! Those that are leaving aren’t real Episcopalians anyway. Jesus this, and Jesus that, and what’s all this evangelizing and sin talk. We’re much better off now without all this Jesus talk. 🙂

  14. youngadult says:

    i am finding it somewhat humorous that the comments in an article about the episcopal church’s blue book are asserting that TEC does not focus on evangelism or the uniqueness and divinity of jesus. anyone who has looked at any of numerous reports will find this to be simply false — the domestic mission and evangelism report might be a good start….

  15. Fr. Dale says:

    #14. youngadult,
    [blockquote]the domestic mission and evangelism report might be a good start….[/blockquote]
    OK, I like the resolution to encourage evangelism but the statement “Reconciliation is the mission of the church and the ongoing mission of God” says to me that TEC” has lost it’s focus on Christ and making him known. It also discusses evangelizing underrepresented groups and includes gays and lesbians. Do you believe they are underrepresented in TEC? What percent of TEC’s total budget is for Evangelism against the percent for lawsuits?

  16. DaveG says:

    TskTsk! Don’t you all realize that “the worst is behind us?” Just ask the PB!

  17. John Wilkins says:

    The episcopal church is declining because we’ve decided to organize our common life like franchises. We’ve allowed church to be dominated by market forces.

    So yes, the Episcopal Church will be a “niche” church, just as the Anglican Church in North America will be a “niche” church. Those who think the Word is agnostic about sexual identity will choose the former; those who think the bible has a lot to say will choose the latter.

    I’m a capitalist, myself. But its made churches into competing forces, now competing with soccer, the NYTimes, megachurches and more sleep.

  18. Fr. Dale says:

    #14. youngadult,
    I have reread and reflected further on “the domestic mission and evangelism report”. Although it is good to discover and train those with the gift of evangelism, There are drawbacks to requiring these individuals to be licensed like LEMS. Does this mean that one must have a license to evangelize others like a license is required to commune others? Couldn’t this tend to discourage or give others an excuse not to evangelize? The major problem I noted earlier is that TEC needs to refocus its efforts on Christ and making him known to others not some PC “Culturally Appropriate Evangelism”. It is God the Holy Spirit who points to Christ and empowers Evangelism. If Christ is not the center of the church and evanlgelism, God the Holy Spirit will not guide and empower the “evangelists” and God will not add to the numbers of the church. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect and comment on this.

  19. libraryjim says:


    taking one section out of the report and saying “see the rest of the report doesn’t say what you say it says, we don’t have to worry about all that heresy stuff, only the part that affirms evangelism” is like taking one line out of the Gospels and saying “see? Jesus only spoke about love, not repentance, sacrifice and atonement! So we only have to worry about inclusion and not all that other icky stuff!”

    Reality requires reading everything in the report to get the overall picture.

    Truth requires reading and believing and acting upon everything in the Gospels, to get to the heart of God’s message of repentance and forgiveness based on God’s Love.

    In His Peace
    Jim E.

  20. youngadult says:

    hi jim e.,
    i agree that you need to take the blue book as a whole, which is why i had originally said that you should look at “numerous reports” and that the DME section would be a “good start” (not a conclusive whole). i actually read all the resolutions that the blue book has to offer (even the loooong title iv revision!), so i would say that i do have a sense of “the overall picture.” pick most any report you want, and what its resolutions will tell you is that the church, though faced by challenges from without and within (hiv/aids, antiquated communication systems, a tight economy, shrinking membership numbers, etc.), is working to serve christ and serve the world. think about it.

  21. libraryjim says:

    But in order to serve Christ, one has to first KNOW and proclaim the Christ of the Gospels. From what we HEAR coming out of the Episcopal Club, the Christ KJS and others are proclaiming is NOT the Christ of the Gospels. And therein lies the crux of the problem.

    I pray daily for TEclub to return to their first calling, repent of their syncretism and heresy and become TEChurch again.

  22. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “the church. . . is working to serve christ and serve the world.”

    Well — if by the “church” you mean the HOB, HOD, Executive Council, 815, and General Conventions — it’s certainly serving it’s own “christ” and its gospel yes.

  23. youngadult says:

    #21 – if by syncretism, you are referring to the recent debate over northern michigan’s bishop and the other much-discussed priest, then i should hardly think that these constitute the whole of tec, to say nothing of the questionable nature of the original claim. and heresy? exactly where are you finding heresy in the official teaching/acts/canons of tec?
    #22 – yes, those are all parts of the church, as are individual dioceses, parishes, soup kitchens, clothing pantries, and foremost of all the faithful christians who love and serve christ (that would be the christ of the bible, taught and preached by apostles and saints throughout the ages, since i guess i must not know the other christ you mentioned) in the world.

  24. libraryjim says:

    Heresy is found in the Episcopal Club:

    by KJS announcing that Jesus is ONE way to the divine, not THE ONLY Way to the Father
    by John Spong being accepted by KJS without her decrying his denial of every main Christian doctrine
    by KJS and her predecessor, Frank Griswold, refusing to acknowledge one truth, but rather that each culture has their own truths that may be honored when present there but then doing exactly the opposite when home and saying “we did not lie” (the most recent example being KJS signing the Dar es Salaam accord as the PRIMATE, then breaking that promise, saying “I only agreed to take it to the HOB, not that I’d agree to it”)

    There are many more examples.

    Bishops who, from the pulpit of the National Cathedral, openly deny the unique divinity of Jesus, saying to admit that “Jesus is the only way to the Father puts God in too small a box”
    Bishops who proclaim that “the church wrote the Bible, the church can re-write the Bible”
    PB Griswold who admitted “we will act against scripture” in consecrating a practicing homosexual man to the episcopate.
    Bishops who deny the Trinity, or refuse to affirm it.
    Bishops who deny the sacrificial atoning death on the cross.
    Bishops who omit the creed from Sunday services because they don’t believe it.
    Bishops who break the canons by allowing the unbaptized and non-Christians to participate in the Eucharist.

    And so many others.

    Persecution and inhibition and deposition of bishops and priests who verbally oppose the heresy of TEc, and the threatening of vestries for the same.

    Priests who practice druidism, Islam, Buddhism, and have idols to other gods on the Christian altar, and yet see no conflict with Christianity’s claim of exclusivity of service with serving other gods.

    And much, much more. All these have been documented on this forum and StandFirm and others.

    The Episcopal leadership needs to either resign their positions or repent and return to the Faith received from the apostolic line.

  25. libraryjim says:

    Those last “Bishops” should read “Bishops and priests….”

  26. Sarah1 says:

    Libraryjim — young adult already knows all that — and he’s cool with it. That’s his gospel. We all need to live into who we are and what we believe.

    We have two gospels in one organization. Youngadult represents one — and quite ably — and others on this blog represent the other.

  27. youngadult says:

    #26 – sarah, i will ask again: if you know me as well as you apparently do, so as to unreflectively assert that you know what “my gospel” is, please tell me all my theological and doctrinal sins. what do i think about the trinity? what do i think about eschatology? unless you know the answers to basic theological questions such as this, maybe you should think about the wisdom of condemning who may in fact hold views with surprising overlap to you own.

  28. libraryjim says:

    Well? What DO you think about the Trinity? About Jesus’ identity? About the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus? About Jesus being the only way to the Father (his own words!)? About acceptance of Jesus as the prerequisite for being called ‘children of God’? About the need for repentance and forgiveness as the key to an inclusive relationship with God? etc. And about following the precepts set out for us by the Apostles and their successors in the creed, etc., as the minimum STANDARD for being able to be called ‘Christian’?

    Care to enlighten us and put an end to our suspense?

    In His Peace
    Jim Elliott <><

  29. John Wilkins says:

    #28 – I think you are confused about the nature of blogging, Libraryjim. Books have been written about these things. that is, if we want to address these issues seriously.

    As far as being called a “Christian” the standards are, by and large, imposed by either oneself, or by a particular church.