…[Mariann] Budde, who was installed last month as the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, faces a tough road. After a decade of schism within the church and a broad disillusionment with mainline Protestantism in general, membership in the Episcopal Church in America ”” the denomination of FDR and George Herbert Walker Bush, the throne of high WASP-dom ”” has fallen on hard times.
Recent polls put Episcopalians in America at fewer than 2 million, which means that there are numerically more Jews, more Muslims and more Mormons in this country than there are Episcopalians. Washington, D.C., one of the largest and most visible dioceses in the country, has not suffered the same radical attrition as elsewhere; still, membership has stagnated for the past 10 years at about 40,000 members in 88 congregations.
“We got so fascinated with ourselves that the world just sped by us,” says Budde. “We’re like a boutique. We’re the most inclusive church in the world that’s the tiniest church in Christendom. .”‰.”‰. I’m not interested in being the leader of a boutique church.”