Annual decline in membership for the past 7 years
Oh, duh! Strike that, TEC would be completely outta bidness.
I’ll guess: Dropoff in adult baptisms?
The comment–now deleted– made reference to the current TEC leadership in an unnecessarily derogatory way.
Can we please–please–take it easy on the cynicism?–Ed.
Daw-gone, I was looking at the very document that Mark links to, but I was looking at the decline of the domestic provinces (of which there are eight not seven). The answer was staring at me in the face. Similar to when I am trying to find my keys, and my wife comes to my rescue.
Dallas diocese down -13.3%. Fort Worth up 0.2%. (I know that’s not growth to brag about but at least it’s not a loss.) Hmm . . .
Let’s hear it for DIO TN! I am gone, but they are not forgotten.
Indeed, I was thinking provinces too.
Are we ready for interpretation?
These bad stats include me. But I’m also part of the growth in another area.
My lessons on these numbers are:
(1) If economic opportunities in your area are stagnant, the young will move away to better places and your churches will gray and die very quickly.
(2) Liberal culture tends not to be interested in organized religion, no matter how liberal you paint Jesus to be. Religion is about seeing purpose in your life beyond you, and allowing that to affect you own behavior, including your pleasures.
This is an [i]incredibly[/i] liberal region – only one Republican member of the House of Representatives comes from this region. Probably vast numbers of people fully approve of TEC in this region. And the vast majority of those are also fully uninterested in any church. In fact, they’re probably reluctant to call themselves Christians because of what that moniker now means nationally.
So, conservatives need to deal with the fact that sympathy to gays by itself does not have much to do with these numbers – some, but not much. But liberals need to recognize that their constituency and full-package world view does not build churches well – even when the local demographics are in their favor.
This has never been about “sympathy to gays” but about the issue of sex outside of marriage being permissible for Christian leaders.
See for example Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality by Stanley Grenz
[url=http://www.amazon.com/Welcoming-but-Not-Affirming-Homosexuality/dp/0664257763/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204419926&sr=1-11]Amazon book listing here[/url]
Welcoming the people but not affirming the behavior, e.g.
Your point #10 about New England, however, is well made.
#11. I’m not sure that the folks in the pews agree with your first statement. I have to say (having been on conservative online dating sites where specific opinions on these issues are revealed) it is downright [i]astounding[/i] how many so-called Christian conservatives say they think homosexual behavior is wrong, but aren’t sure about heterosexual premarital sex. I would like to see a scientific survey on the question, though.
We would probably agree, though, that the liberals are not frank about the fact that a great deal of sympathy for gays comes from folks who are okay with extramarital sex.
I would like to know who these 2,000+ people are, who became active in TEC in South Carolina in 2003-06. Are they liberal or conservative? If conservative, why did they find such a liberal church appealing?
I have long said that it is incumbent on those proposing change in an organization to prove that the change won’t lead to the death of the organization. That kind of makes sense!
Now there is much evidence of inclusivity (a spin word for homosexual clergy and blessing of SSU’s) is lethal to any Christian denomination, and there is little evidence to the contrary. Certainly, Gene Robinson’s assertion that “countless” people will replace those that leave is a bald face lie.
But it is most definitely true that it is not all about numbers. There is a big problem with the statement that “Probably vast numbers of people [i]fully approve[/i] of TEC in this region. And the vast majority of those are also fully uninterested in any church.” As if the Church is suppose to seek [i]full approval[/i] of this dark and fallen world. I do believe that, even in liberal northeast, people know that moral relativism is a lie and are seeking truth.
So suppose you are a rector in the liberal la-la land of the northeast. Do you 1) stand firm and seek out the out those that aren’t buying into the lie or 2) compromise your message to gain approval of those who, as you say, aren’t even interested in the church and that has been shown to shrink your church to irrelevancy? A Hobson’s choice really.
Father Handy has a lot more to say about this. Just do a search on New Reformation Advocate.
Carol R. (8) –
If the figures represent 2006 accurately – and I would like to believe that for Dallas they do, as compared to LosAngeles where people keep saying congregations who have left are still being counted – then you have to figure some of that 13% reduction as directly related to the departure of Christ Church, Plano, and a couple of others from the diocese. The big drop from 2005 to 2006 of approx 3500 members (notice how unusual that kind of growth or decline is in the diocese) would reflect the September 2006 withdrawal of Plano specifically. Big church.
Otherwise (if that term could be used here), Dallas fared better than lots of places. Not to take away from Fort Worth, but there are a couple of parishes from Dallas under Ft Worth’s wing- just not sure if they are being counted one way or the other. Still, good for DFW to have growth.
Sidney (13) –
It used to be Texas, but now it is South Carolina in the premier seat of church growth. They are movin’ and groovin’ with church growth multiplication, peer mentoring, and heavy priority on Youth Ministry. Now, that could describe “liberal” or “conservative”, I suppose. South Carolina is not a monochrome diocese. And the state itself has a high level of Episcopal enculturation. However, it is much more “reasserter” than “revisionist” by intention and design, if those categories work for you. So the answer to your question is these would be (reflecting the makeup of the diocese) primarily folks coming into conservative congregations, and those congregations not only are unabashedly inviting them in, but also into an even larger sense of conservative Episcopal culture marked by an interdependence and congregational networking that is hard to find anywhere else in TEC. It’s working. Bp Salmon and company have worked hard to make it work; Bp Lawrence, et al, will carry on.
What I want to know is what happened to West Tennessee? I knew about some of the other high decline decadal and 5-year rates, but that one surprised me. How is that possible?
Lost churches? Demographic moves?
I realize it doesn’t take much in smaller dioceses to register high percentages one way or the other. But still….
The best worst performance was Rochester which dropped 34%. But not far behind was Quincy with a 32% drop. Now with a membership of less than 2000. Really not enough to take on TEc. I see it with three options: stay and die, opt out and get sued to the hilt, or join Fort Worth (who has conveniently removed geographic borders from their canons).