Diocesan Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s figures, Knoxville, the see city of the diocese, has grown in population from 173,890 in 2000 to 185,100 in 2009. This represents a population growth of approximately 6.45% in this time frame.

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of East Tennessee went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 6,376 in 1998 to 5,649 in 2008. The finally released 2009 numbers shows a small further decline in ASA to 5645 in 2009. This represents an ASA decline of about 11.65 % over this eleven year period. Please note that if you go to the link toward the end of this sentence and enter “East Tennessee” as the name of the diocese and then “View Diocese Chart” underneath on the left you can see in pictorial form some of the data from 1999-2009.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Census/Census Data, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes, The U.S. Government

22 comments on “Diocesan Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee

  1. Kendall Harmon says:

    Alas as of this writing the 2010 census data was not yet available that I could find for this state/area:



    If others can find it, let me know.

  2. wildfire says:

    I can’t find this online, but from a hard copy of stats I see that the 2000 ASA for this diocese was 6361.

  3. Sarah says:

    How distressing that Canon Harmon persists in posting such divisive, belligerent, and inflammatory content on this “blog” of his.

    Such content truly strikes a discordant and disruptive tone in what is a healthy, prophetic, joy-filled, truth-to-power speaking church. If he is going to continue digging up such obscure, unhelpful, arcane, and irrelevant “facts” such as census statistics and average Sunday attendance when all of us are focused on more helpful and interesting ideas like inclusion, dialogue, and transformative community building, then perhaps he would be better gone from our loving community.

    There are plenty of other churches out there who can take in malcontents who research things that nobody is really interested in.

  4. robroy says:

    I gave a reference to this [url=http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map ]2010 census resource[/url] on another thread. Really fascinating. You see from the map that Knox county (as opposed to the city cited above) grew 13%, Sevier county grew 26%, etc. Eyeballing it, I would estimate the growth of Eastern Tennessee to be on the order of 15%.

    The new bishop is a Bishop Howard yes-man that served on Howard’s Standing committee that deposed dozens of orthodox priests in the Diocese of Florida. He certainly bodes ill for the East Tennessee conservatives.

    But I think – but don’t know – is that strong ACNA presence correlates to TEO decline. I will simply say that looking at the ACNA website there is a presence in Eastern Tennessee but not a strong one.

  5. Statmann says:

    I was deeply touched by Sarah’s comments in ssupport of East Tenn. For 2002 through 2009, East Tenn. lost 3.8 percent of Members, lost 12.3 percent of ASA, and lost 3.4 percent of adjusted for inflation Plate & Pledge. I ranked them at 11 of 95 dioceses considered. One could say that East Tenn did quite well or that most of TEC did much more poorly. Oh, by the way, Marriages declined by 32.8 percent. Statmann

  6. Jackson says:

    Simply said – Numbers matter. They are not the most important piece but they tell a story. One test of whether a “healthy, prophetic, joy-filled, truth-to-power speaking church” focused on “ideas like inclusion, dialogue, and transformative community building” is meeting the deep needs of its populace is growth.
    For some reason, there is not growth in this diocese.

  7. Jackson says:

    To add – I don’t know the answer, but I think its an intriguing question in search of an good answer. Maybe my assumption is wrong.

  8. Undergroundpewster says:

    The two E. Tenn. Episcopal churches I have visited have been creepily like my own revisionist parish. The revisionist message eventually leads the pewsitter to conclude that God loves us, we are saved, and it really doesn’t matter what we believe, so we really don’t need to go to church. In E. Tenn. that means you are free to go hiking in the Smokeys or shopping in Pigeon Forge instead.

  9. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    Is Sarah’s comment above serious or a parody? Sadly, I can’t tell.

  10. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    In all seriousness, I grew up in East Tennessee and was confirmed there. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have left the Diocese of East Tennessee over the recent spats over homosexuality. I can name at least 35 off the top of my head who have fled.

    This is truly a feat because its the bible belt and there are other churches (from the Orthodox church to Pentecostals) all over the place that are full to exploding in growth in that region.

  11. Milton says:

    Archer, Sarah is doing her by now standard parody of revisionist “all-is-well” dismissals of signs of terminal decline in TEO.

  12. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    No. 11,

    That’s what I thought, but it was so well done that I couldn’t tell.

  13. NoVA Scout says:

    I used to do a lot of navigation work when I was sailing. I never could figure out much of anything useful for the care and tending of the ship from a one-legged bearing. These posts are hearty perennials here, but I can’t tell from the data whether the declines are typical or atypical of other denominations, whether there’s something going on that’s peculiar to a particular diocese or a parish, whether it’s part of a larger phenomenon related to growth of non-denominational churches, where the people who are leaving are going etc. Most of you don’t have that problem. You know exactly what’s happening. You might be right some or all of the time. But I wouldn’t want you taking sights for me on any vessel under my command or responsibility. I’d be a little concerned that you weren’t accumulating and testing the data enough to establish a proper fix or course.

  14. Pb says:

    Healthy things grow. Unhealthy things do not. It is that simple.

  15. Cennydd13 says:

    Speaking of Pigeon Forge, I’m sure that Dolly Parton appreciates the business at the amusement park on Sundays, but I’m equally sure that she’d encourage everyone to attend Church on Sunday mornings before coming to the park.

  16. Cennydd13 says:

    But of course, Dolly no longer owns the park…..but she is a Christian.

  17. Larry Morse says:

    Tut ,Sarah. Watch out for sarcasm, even of the most obvious sort. LOL

  18. dave7 says:

    I can not answer for the entire Diocese of East TN, but I can answer for my own congregation. We started out about 6 years ago with 3 people saying Evening Prayer in a crumbling 150 year old building. We only had clergy once or twice a month, but the bigger problem was no people in the pews and no money to pay the bills.

    Advance the clock to today. We have a 2011 ASA of almost 50, close to $100,000 of renovations made to our historic building (a former United Methodist Church),and doubled our parking area by purchasing additional land (all paid for, no debt).

    Our congregation is mostly made up of folks who were of a liturgical church background, allbeit not TEC (former Roman Catholic is the largest group). We have a very active group of senior’s, and a very active group of 20-30 year olds, lots of young folks (but not many children). We are growing steadily in ASA, plate and pledge, and (more importantly) mission/evangelism efforts and spending.

    We have in our congregation people who would represent conservative and liberal views. We have gay couples who are active and respected members. We all get along well, keeping focused on our similarities and the goal of fulfilling the great commission instead of fighting about our differences. We are a congregation of loyal Episcopalians who support our Diocese and TEC.

    Sorry to disappoint, but the reality is that the picture is not uniformly bleak.

    I can, however, affirm Robroy’s comment about ACNA not having a strong presence in E. TN. They do not, and in the environment of East TN, likely will not. Evangelical fundamentalism is far and away the dominate force in this part of the state (always has been), and Anglicanism (whether of the mainstream variety or the ultra-conservative variety) will not change that reality to any great extent. We will always be a minority in this area.

  19. Sarah says:

    RE: ” the reality is that the picture is not uniformly bleak. . . . ”

    Of course, nobody said that the picture was “uniformly bleak.” All people pointed out was that a parish like yours — a rather slowly, creepingly growing revisionist parish — is an anomaly in the Diocese of East TN which “went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 6,376 in 1998 to 5,649 in 2008” to “5645 in 2009” — a “decline of about 11.65 % over this eleven year period” all [i]within a region that is growing in population.[/i]

    You’d need a *whole lot* more teensy revisionist parishes like Dave7’s to make any sort of dent in the plummeting decline of the diocese.

  20. NoVA Scout says:

    How did Dave7’s story in any way define his parish as a “revisionist parish” or “creepingly growing”? He did say that gay couples are active and respected members. Does that mark the parish as “revisionist.” Would it not be possible in, say, and ACNA or “non-revisionist” TEC parish for homosexual members to be active and respected? I thought the debate was not about whether one variety of sinner as opposed to another could be a member, but whether non-celibate unmarried persons, heterosexual or homosexual, should be ordained or elevated to bishop status.

  21. NoVA Scout says:

    How did Dave7’s parish (which appears to have a very admirable story to tell about its growth and development) get to deserve the label (a pejorative one in these parts) “revisionist parish”? There was nothing in his account that revealed any particular theological position that would identify the parish as departing from orthodoxy. Is it the fact that he said that, among the disparate group of parishioners, gay couples were “active and respected”? Is it not possible, in any parish of any stripe (given that all members are sinners) that a “conservative” Episcopal parish, or an ACNA parish would have gay members who would be active and respected? If that is not what earned the “revisionist” taxonomy in comment 18, what did?

    Apologies in advance if this duplicates an earlier comment I submitted. I have been encountering multi-day delays in comments appearing after submission. Anyone else having similar problems? Elves?

  22. NoVA Scout says:

    I remain curious as to how we know that Dave7’s parish is “revisionist.” (“teensy” and “Creepingly growing” seem a bit uncalled for also). I went back through the comments and found a description of a varied (“conservative” and “liberal”) aggregation of parishioners. Is that “revisionist”? The only other thing I could find that might have caused a reflexive utterance of the “revisionist” label (one that it generally used pejoratively in these parts) is that there was a reference to homosexual couples attending and being “active and respected.” Can we assume that homosexuals either don’t attend or cannot be active and respected in “non-revisionist” TEC or ACNA parishes? If so, should parishes, in order to avoid being deemed “revisionist,” treat gay members of a congregation with less respect that other sinners who might be among us (or be all of us)?