A Look at a TEC Parish Based on the Latest Data–Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, S.C.

If you go to the link toward the end of this sentence and enter “Upper South Carolina” as the name of the diocese and then go to “Church” (the third possible entry line) and enter “Trinity (Columbia, SC) ” underneath the entry point (where you will see a list of parishes alphabetically in the diocese) then you can see in pictorial form some of the data from 2000-2010.

You may find the parish website there.

Alert blog readers may recall an earlier look at this parish on the blog in October 2010. A commenter on that thread captured the 1999-2009 data.

For the purposes of reference on the chart(s), the Episcopal Church Annual of 2007 (which is based on parochial reports of 2005) lists parish membership at 4000.


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4 comments on “A Look at a TEC Parish Based on the Latest Data–Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, S.C.

  1. Statmann says:

    By TEC standards, Trinity looks pretty good. Has had a drop in Plate & Pledge since the dowturn of 2008. I would say that an ASA of 800 out of 4,400 Members does not speak well of the homolies. Statmann

  2. Saltmarsh Gal says:

    What do we make, I wonder, of the member vs attender numbers? Not just for Trinity but for all congregations. Trinity is sitting at roughly 18% of its membership attending on a given Sunday averaged across the year (if I’m reading this right).. Is this a reflection of failure to keep track of folks and rolling numbers over from year to year or do they reflect people that they really have some sort of relationship with – even if at a remove? If we are honest about our numbers, it could give us a helpful measure of member engagment and some measure of congregational vitality. Also, certainly should be a driving factor in vision for ministry.

    Many of us have grown accustomed to the 30-35% range. One of the stronger nearby Episcopal congregations (Dio of SC) is sitting around 45-46%. What does this number tell us? I wonder if the number of units pledging in comparision to the total units of a congregation would give us a similar picture. That might be a reliable cross check as to what the member vs asa number actually reflects.

    One possible interpretation of Trinity’s 18% is that 80%plus of the membership (if their numbers really do reflect folks who have stayed connected in some way) are keeping their names on the rolls but are somewhat checked out. Or, perhaps, there is a very high percentage of homebound members (I don’t really think that’s the case but it would be one possibility). Whatever it is, 18% will be a hefty challenge for their new dean. Hope he or she will think, in the search process, to ask about the implications of those particular numbers.

  3. David Keller says:

    #2–It is not uncommon for large churches to put visitors on their mailing list and then count them as members. It is also not unsual for churches to never purge their roles. That is a major reason why “membership” doesn’t mean a thing, but ASA does. Of course, churches also fudge their ASA, but not by as much as membership. I personally know of one example at Trinity of a woman who hadn’t attended since she was in college in the 1970’s, had married and joined the Presbyterian Church. She divorced many years later, in the early 2000’s, and Trinity was still carrying her as a member. They pulled her up on the computer system and transferred her letter to another Esiscopal Church! I am not indicting Trinity, because I am certain this happens everywhere in the main-line denominations.

  4. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Statmann and David Keller are both right.

    Only I’ll add to David’s observations that it’s often a game of one-up-manship among really large congregations to see who can boast the highest number of “members.” It gives boasting rights…

    Saltmarsh Gal,
    Please note that the sort of trends you’re talking about only apply to the so-called “mainline” denominations. I spent ten years attending services in three different Assembly of God congregations (all of them outstanding), all of which had an average Sunday attendance (ASA) HIGHER than their total number of members. And that’s true of the denomination as a whole. Because the AoG doesn’t count children as members (practicing believer baptism), in 2010 they reported a national total of about 1.75 milliion members, but also around 3 million “adherents” (which includes children and other regular attenders who choose not to be members). And their national ASA is about 1.88 million. Which is nearly three times (yes, 3x) larger than the ASA of TEC, although the latter still claims (implausibly) almost 2 million “members.”

    Hmmm, so who is mainline now, and which denom has shrunk into a mere sideline?

    David Handy+