(JE) New Numbers Detail Uneven Episcopal Church Decline

The decreasing numbers have had an effect upon the ability of smaller congregations to employ full-time clergy. In a first, a plurality of Episcopal congregations in 2014 (34.5%) have only a part-time or unpaid priest, outnumbering those with a lone full-time priest.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Data

8 comments on “(JE) New Numbers Detail Uneven Episcopal Church Decline

  1. MichaelA says:

    That may accelerate decline.

    In diocese of Sydney we have found that the best model for sustainable growth is based on a traditional parish large enough to support its own minister. ASA 300 seems to be average.

  2. MargaretG says:

    Can anyone comment on this bit?

    “The Diocese of New Hampshire (membership +3.3%, attendance +22.7%) also posted surprising growth under its new bishop following a decade under the leadership of Bishop Gene Robinson in which the diocesan membership declined 19 percent.”

    What is happening??

  3. MichaelA says:

    Perhaps it just indicates how truly awful a bishop Gene Robinson was. A large part of that was his personal witness – divorced from his wife, “married” a man, but then divorced from that relationship too. Even many liberals find this too much to stomach.

    So then there is a natural bounce-back, where those who are more liberal but couldn’t cope with VGR are prepared to give the new gent a go?

    That’s just my guess, no doubt people with direct knowledge of Dio NH can give a better perspective.

  4. Jeff Walton says:

    MichaelA, I did some digging: the NH attendance numbers didn’t make sense, as the diocese has posted a significant and uninterrupted decline in baptisms (-57%), receptions (-51%), marriages (-37%) and membership (-16%) since 2003. So I combed through the reports of each of NH’s 49 congregations. Almost all continue to be in decline, and only about three show any significant attendance growth, not nearly enough to account for over 850 people added in a single year.

    It turns out that DioNH reported two new worship sites this year: the Chapel of Holy Cross in Holderness, and the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul Concord. Neither report significant membership, but Holy Cross has 270 attendees and St. Paul has 650. They are both the chapels of Episcopal preparatory schools, reporting their weekly chapel attendance to the diocese for the first time. According to the Holderness web site “Students attend two required chapel services each week” and at St. Paul, it is four times a week.

    I am unaware of any comparable situation elsewhere in the Episcopal Church where compulsory weekday school chapel services are counted alongside Sunday attendance. This is where the 22.7% “jump” originated from.

  5. MichaelA says:

    Wow, excellent detective work Jeff

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    What a brilliant wheeze!!!

    We have been missing out: about a million children attend Church of England schools including their religious assemblies, and 15 million have attended such schools. If these figures were added to our attendance and membership figures then we could double our results and experience at least a hundred percent growth.

    And that is just the start – there are those who read the Church of England websites and read about the church in the newspapers, and of course anyone who ever had a relative who got baptised, married or buried in a CofE service they ever attended, they must be attendees and members too, even if they are unaware of it.

    TEC leads the way with creative accounting as well as creative theology.

    Over to you Justin…

  7. MichaelA says:

    Brilliant! 🙂

  8. Jeff Walton says:

    Thanks for the CoE context, Pageantmaster. If I do a story on this subject, I’ll be certain to include it.