Check it out.
What’s interesting to me is the number of domestic dioceses (30) that have a diocesan ASA that is less than the Methodist church about a mile away from my home. Something’s seriously wrong when you have a diocese of less than 3500 ASA – with two bishops and a support-staff of 10, 50 or so clergy, and lots of near-empty buildings. If TEC is going to go corporate and start litigating for property, they may want to look first to see what it is they’re really fighting for.
The most telling thing for me as a non math major is the receptions + baptisms are far and away exceeded by the burials.
Hmm It appears they are showing a steady decline.
#1, I could not agree more. The Episcopal Church is horribly top heavy. Just about every denomination around seems to have a great deal less administration and administrative overhead. Trimming the fat won’t cure the Episcopal Church, but merging dioceses and eliminating jobs at 815 would go a long way towards helping.
I may be wrong, but I do not believe it is politically possible in the current church.
In looking at the stats I remembered words from now dead saints who saw the Church in better days: “As goes the Sunday School, so goes the Church”. Maybe someone will start the movement again – hopefully with Christocentric, commitment-centered curriculum.
Province 4 looks to be the best performing in terms of baptism/conformation/received/wedding over burials. Some of that is due to demographics, but part is attributable to healthy dioceses, particularly SC. Look at Province 8, where there is both explosive growth (Nevada, Utah, Idaho) and a huge population (California), the baptism/conformation/received/wedding numbers are not nearly as impressive, in fact they are roughly 50% of Province 4.
Our Bible clearly states that these false teachers will be mixed in with us until “That Day” ( see parable of the wheat and the weeds in the Gospels for more…)—we just want to make sure we are harvested by the Angels at that time and not mistaken as the weeds. How do you do this? Well, for one, get out of TEC.
I found [url=http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Average_Sunday_Attendance_1995-05_by_Domestic_Diocese.pdf]this chart[/url]
giving the percentage of decline interesting.
I worked for a Methodist Church once that was half as big as some dioceses on Sunday morning.
At the time, I thought that the Methodist Church was too focused on children’s ministries. Now that I am a parent, I can see why they spent so much effort on family ministries.
re 2: I think you are misreading the numbers. Looking at domestic dioceses only, I find a total baptisms in 2006 of 40,888. Adding in receptions gets a gain of 47,668, exceeding burials by 15,104.
But here’s the depressing part: the net loss in active baptized between 2005 and 2006 was 50,804. That indicates that the number of people who left the church without dying was close to 66,000. And it’s probably much worse than that, because probably most of the people in “adult confirmations”– nearly 14,000– are also new Episcopalians coming in from other churches. So the departures could be as much as 80,000, or about 5% of the total membership.
re 1: One gets the impression that some of the multiplicity of dioceses is the result of unmerited optimism in the late 1800s about how much membership was going to grow west of the Appalachians. When one gets out onto the plains and further west, geography starts to become an issue; you could combine Nevada and Utah into one diocese, maybe, but there comes a point at which the bishop is going to have to have a private plane at his disposal. The more questionable anomalies are in a band further east, along the Mississippi, and one supposes some of these could be folded into their neighbors. But if it is desirable to have the bishop visit every parish each year, then a diocese with much more than fifty parishes is going to need an assisting or suffragan bishop. And the number of parishes is dictated not only by population, but by geography; western dioceses have a lot of tiny parishes because they have a lot of little towns. The overhead is only something to complain about when people are unhappy; reducing it wouldn’t help our current issues. And I would note especially that the really big dioceses are, with the exception of Texas and Virginia, all quite liberal.
#2, I’m not a math major either, but I’m stumped by your assertion that “the receptions + baptisms are far and away exceeded by the burials.” I admit I didn’t look at every single diocese, and I suppose you could come up with some examples to support your claim, but the province totals and the grand totals on the last page show the exact opposite of what you said. Every single province had [i]fewer[/i] burials than the total of baptisms and receptions. The worst ratio for a province was #1, where burials were 87% of baptisms plus receptions.
Even when I drop receptions out of the mix and only compare baptisms and burials, not a single provice buried more than they baptised. (Though I admit that a couple came close.)
I don’t claim that this disproves that the membership is shrinking. For example, this report does not reflect transfers out, either to other denominations or to foreign provinces. For that matter, it does not reflect people who move to other parts of the country. But as a pure page of numbers, I simply have to reply that the report says exactly the opposite of what you claimed it said.
The number of baptisms is not always a sign of growth in a church. My former parish, St. Matthew
episcopal, San Mateo California, is a beautiful turn of the century Gothic Revival building that non Episcopalians and non churched people seek out for baptisms for their children. The service is held with family and friends present and then they are never seen again, they do not return to become active members of the congregation in so many cases; the same can be said for weddings and to a lesser degree, funerals. The numbers shown in the final tally may not be an accurate indicator of the health and vitality of the Episcopal Church, such as 815 would like to think.
Don’t forget that the Los Angeles Diocese’s numbers are still inflated by about 3,000 (baptized) and 1000+ (ASA) because it’s still counting the four parishes that left in 2004-05. They have been copying and pasting the old numbers ever since. The CA Supreme Court will decide in a few months who gets the property; however, even if it decides for the diocese, the membership will be about 2 for my parish. We’ll still be all gone!
re 10: That’s accounted for in the way I ran the numbers. Again: the big nasty number is that even though we are apparently taking in more people than are dying, the number who just leave is by far the greatest.
While we’re at it: data from here suggests that the comparison to the UMC is not favorable to the latter. Understand that we’re talking mean rather than median, and two different dacades: but in 1996 the average USA UMC church had about 235 members, while in 2005 the average ECUSA parish had 300. The underlying issue, again, is the large numbers of rural congregations. Methodists have the strongest presence in a strip down the Appalachians and another block in the central plains, both of them decidedly rural areas.
It’s interesting to compare baptisms-vs-funerals for some of the dioceses that have been in the news lately (both “reasserter” and “reappraiser”).
TEC claims a -50,804 (-2%) net loss in active members from 2006, with a loss of -21,945 (-3%) net loss in ASA for the same year.
It’s all published here: EPISCOPAL DOMESTIC FAST FACTS 2006
I’ve put a more extended analysis on my blog here.
What I find interesting is that in Province 2 they’ve included figures for Haiti and the Virgin Islands, which were not part of Province 2 as of 2005 (according to the chart you supplied), thereby giving the appearance of an increase in overall numbers currently. Does anyone know when they were added to Province 2? Also, when did TEc begin tracking Province 9? That Province is not on the chart you supplied either.
re 17: I think that’s a mistake. The red book chart for 2005 lists them in Province 2.
ASA 2001 – 2006
Biggest 5 year losers (2001- 06)
-23% Eastern Michigan
-20% North West Texas
There were only four 5 year gainers (2001- 06)
+6% South Carolina
+2% East Carolina
and in the news recently:
-4% Fort Worth
-13% New Hampshire
-15% San Joaquin
Wow, an ASA drop of 51 thousand from 2002 to 2004’s level of 795 thousand. I wonder what happened in 2003?
Aren’t burials (33,331) best compared to the sum of adult baptisms + adults confirmed + received (28,731) ? There is little doubt that more than were buried walked away without the benefit of burial.
By the way, those of us who have gone over to CANA cannot afford to die for a while. We have legal bills to pay.
As Gabrielle points out [#10], “The number of baptisms is not always a sign of growth in a church. My former parish, St. Matthew
episcopal, San Mateo California, is a beautiful turn of the century Gothic Revival building that non Episcopalians and non churched people seek out for baptisms for their children. The service is held with family and friends present and then they are never seen again, they do not return to become active members of the congregation in so many cases;”
I, and I’m sure many others, have seen the same thing. And the numbers in the charts seem to bear this out as well: fewer than one third the number of children who are baptized are confirmed.