March 23, 2017

February 17, 2011

TEc Reports 2.48% Decline In Membership

From here

Mainline churches reporting declines in membership are United Church of Christ, down 2.83 percent to 1,080,199 members; the Presbyterian Church (USA), down 2.61 percent to 2,770,730 members; the Episcopal Church, down 2.48 percent to 2,006,343 members; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. down 1.96 percent to 4,542,868 members; the American Baptist Churches USA, down 1.55 percent to 1,310,505; the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), down 1.08 percent to 2,312,111 members; and the United Methodist Church, down 1.01 percent to 7,774,931 members.

Hat tip:  Robroy

Share this story:

Recent Related Posts



The empirical data are pretty clear.  The most effective way to decrease church membership is to give in to the homosexual agenda and the second most effective way to decrease membership is to have a bitter debate over the homosexual agenda.  All the churches with membership losses in the 2% range fall into these categories.  In the United Methodist Church, we have 36 retired bishops who don’t think a loss of 1.1% of our membership in 10 years is a large enough rate of decline, so they want to ensure that we have a bitter battle over the homosexual agenda at General Conference next year.  One wonders who they think funds their pensions. Fortunately for them and the rest of us, the African United Methodists will probably squelch their efforts.  If present trends continue, Africans will constitute the majority of the United Methodist Church in twelve more years.  Praise God for their faithfulness is the face of apostate U.S. leadership!

[1] Posted by ABQ Methodist on 2-17-2011 at 10:41 AM · [top]

Maybe this will encourage both TEC and the mainline press to report the correct membership number—about 2 million—rather than the 2.2 or 2.4 they’ve been touting!

[2] Posted by drjoan on 2-17-2011 at 11:15 AM · [top]

Hmm, now let’s see….the last reported figures for TEC’s membership that I remember seeing were in the neighborhood of 2.1 million people (about a year or two ago, if I remember correctly).  That means they lost approximately 93,657 people….give or take a few thousand.  That’s a significant loss.  I wonder how that happened?

[3] Posted by cennydd13 on 2-17-2011 at 11:36 AM · [top]

I liberal friend of mine asked our prayer group ” how can we include all of these people and lose members?”

[4] Posted by Pb on 2-17-2011 at 12:30 PM · [top]

Wow! I would never have thought that the LCMS (into which I was born and raised) would ever be larger than the Episcopal Church (even without considering the latter’s erroneously inflated numbers).

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[5] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 2-17-2011 at 12:52 PM · [top]

Fortunately for them and the rest of us, the African United Methodists will probably squelch their efforts.  If present trends continue, Africans will constitute the majority of the United Methodist Church in twelve more years.  Praise God for their faithfulness is the face of apostate U.S. leadership!

ABQ, I had read somewhere that the American UMC leadership was conspiring to exclude the voices of African leaders to prevent this. I take it from what you wrote this effort has failed to transform this into another situation like the AC.

[6] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 2-17-2011 at 12:54 PM · [top]

This should not be characterized as a ‘decline in membership.’  This should be considered a consolidation into prophetic integrity.  Who is really leaving?  The reactionary.  The retrograde.  The obsolete fundamentalist bibliolators without whom we would all be so much better off.  Once they leave, then TEC can get on with its mission.  It will be free of the medieval nonsense that passes for ‘orthodoxy’ and can then attract members from the modern world.  People today don’t need or want answers.  They aren’t slaves to certainty.  They understand that the journey called life is best lived by the asking the right questions.  We have faith the membership numbers will climb as modern people realize that TEC is not about the ‘answers’ of theocratic fundamentalism but about the questions of the thinking mind. 

In the meantime, your obsolete worldview is dying.  We might hold a funeral for it, but only to dance on its grave.

progressive carl

[7] Posted by carl on 2-17-2011 at 01:34 PM · [top]

#6, you are probably referring to the “Global Segregation Plan” that would partition the General Conference into regional conferences—including a U.S.-only conference. This amendment was defeated by a wide margin in the annual conferences.

I don’t pretend that this is the end of the story—crafty denominational elites always have a ‘plan b’—but for now, people seem to have seen through this transparent effort to chop African United Methodists out of the decision making process.

Next year 70 new delegates from the Ivory Coast arrive at General Conference (along with a corresponding reduction mostly from the liberal western and northeastern jurisdictions). The math is not working in the revisionists’ favor.

[8] Posted by Jeff Walton on 2-17-2011 at 01:40 PM · [top]

Progressive Carl, are you for REAL?

[9] Posted by cennydd13 on 2-17-2011 at 01:59 PM · [top]

Carl in particular may appreciate this: About a decade ago while attending a churchwide event for “the next generation,” a priest in his late 20s to early 30s told me with a chuckle that one of his seminary professors was fond of saying that every Rite I funeral brings The Episcopal Church closer to God’s intention. Since I’d never met him before I don’t know which seminary he attended. I also don’t know if his chuckle was wistful, chagrined, or demonic—I’m guessing it was demonic wistfulness.

[10] Posted by polycarp on 2-17-2011 at 02:40 PM · [top]

I do like the phrase “prophetic integrity” as a euphemism for “people not coming to your nonsense church anymore”.

It wasn’t a 2.48% loss in people, it was a 2.48% gain in prophetic integrity!

May the Episcopal church continue to grow in prophetic integrity for years to come!


[11] Posted by DietofWorms on 2-17-2011 at 03:04 PM · [top]

These are just the declines that were reported, as the text says.  This does not include UNREPORTED declines.

[12] Posted by Long Gone Anglo Catholic on 2-17-2011 at 03:14 PM · [top]

#8 that was it. Glad to hear it was defeated. It’s hard to believe the implacability by which liberals seek the destruction of their own denomination, the two flagship examples being TEC and ELCA.

[13] Posted by SpongJohn SquarePantheist on 2-17-2011 at 03:50 PM · [top]

Let’s here it for Prophetic Integrity!!!  Hip Hip Hooray!!!

[14] Posted by episcopal100 on 2-17-2011 at 05:08 PM · [top]

I so very much enjoy the writings of Progressive Carl (Carl’s evil twin).

N.B. The commentator, Jeff Walton #8, has pretty good credentials, so he probably knows what he is talking about! The liberals in the UMC are trying aggressively to establish facts on the ground. Sound familiar?

[15] Posted by robroy on 2-17-2011 at 07:38 PM · [top]

Thanks be to God.

[16] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 2-17-2011 at 07:46 PM · [top]

”...the Episcopal Church, down 2.48 percent to 2,006,343 members…”

Hell will have certifiably frozen over before 815 lets that number drop below 2,000,000.

[17] Posted by The Pilgrim on 2-17-2011 at 07:52 PM · [top]

#3 cennydd13. The 2.48% last year or 93,657 member loss over recent years is a net loss. Assuming some new people come in, the loss of (time, talent, income) producing members is even greater.

Considering the average congregation has less than 100 members, and smaller congregations are likely to shut down, it looks like a loss of, at least, 1000 congregations. Anyone have numbers on church plants and the closing of congregations?

[18] Posted by Dr. N. on 2-17-2011 at 08:15 PM · [top]

I note the RC church GREW .57%.  Many here will boo and hiss for what the RC stands for.  But note the growth.

[19] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 2-17-2011 at 08:31 PM · [top]

[15] robroy

Carl’s evil twin

Carl’s evil twin??  Perhaps that wretched excuse for an intellect is my evil twin.  In any case, why do you trouble me with this foolishness.  Shouldn’t you be burning a book, or hunting a mastodon with a stone spear, or whatever it is you ‘orthodox’ do to pass away the hours of your retrograde existence?

progressive carl

[20] Posted by carl on 2-17-2011 at 09:05 PM · [top]

TEC Members (in USA) would have slipped below 2 million in 2009, but for the almost comical Members number filed by the TEC Diocese of Fort Worth (plus, some bogus numbers by Ohio, Los Angeles, etc.). And ASA declined by 3.16 percent. And Plate & Pledge (adjusted for inflation) declined a whopping 5.50 percent. I never thought I would ever see the day when Money would be a larger concern for TEC than Members or ASA! Saving the worst for last: Infant Baptisms declined 6.26 percent.  Statmann

[21] Posted by Statmann on 2-17-2011 at 10:28 PM · [top]

20- Last time we invite you to the mastodon barbecue.
Neanderthal TJ

[22] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-17-2011 at 10:41 PM · [top]

Dr. N, the answer to your question is here. In particular, the median parish membership in 2009 is 160 - down from 164 in 2008. In contrast, the median average sunday attendance is 66 (down from 69).

There were 6,964 parishes in 2008 and 6,895 in 2009 or a drop of only 69. This seems low to me. If you look at the data, there are ~270 parishes with an ASA of 10 or less and even worse, ~120 parishes with 10 or fewer members. These parishes must be burning through endowments.

As far as Episcopalian church starts, I would imagine the number is less than 10 for the country, probably less than 5. I believe there was one in Missouri. Others?

[23] Posted by robroy on 2-17-2011 at 11:49 PM · [top]

Considering they are still counting some that have left, it is safe to assume that they have dipped below the 2 million mark.

[24] Posted by martin5 on 2-18-2011 at 12:07 AM · [top]

I haven’t heard of any TEC startups in California, and the faux ‘Diocese San Joaquin’ is foundering, and they’re in hock to 815 for $1 million.  Looks kinda bad for them, I’d say.

[25] Posted by cennydd13 on 2-18-2011 at 12:46 AM · [top]

In that case I hope and pray for two things:

(a) That the orthodox parishes and dioceses within TEC can grow, or if not, that they can at least hold their own. Its difficult to grow when you are never sure if your own leaders are going to cut you down. In a diocese like South Carolina, it seems the faithful can do quite well. But elsewhere in TEC, it may just be a matter of surviving until the situation changes. But that is worth doing.

(b) Secondly, that the Anglicans in ACNA will not lose their vision for growth - for church planting, for making disciples, for evangelism. Two years ago, ++Duncan called for 1000 new churches during his tenure. At present, the Anglican1000 web-site only lists 110 new church plants:

But 110 new churches is a huge improvement on none at all (apparently) for TEC. Pray that ACNA never loses this zeal to increase the kingdom.

Pray that one day, those in TEC will be able to share it also, without having to look over their shoulder at their own leaders.

[26] Posted by MichaelA on 2-18-2011 at 01:53 AM · [top]

So was the 20/20 initiative to halve membership by 2020?

At 2.5% per year they’ll still be at 1.6 million (if the 2 million now is a real number.)

[27] Posted by Bill2 on 2-18-2011 at 07:45 AM · [top]

We celebrate a greater concentration of diversity. - Fictional TEc spinmeister in response to declining membership numbers.

[28] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 2-18-2011 at 11:43 AM · [top]

For 2009, the overall domestic ASA was 682,963. That’s a loss of 22,294 people or -3.2% since ‘08. Depressing.

[29] Posted by ltwin on 2-18-2011 at 11:50 AM · [top]

Undergoundpewster, it’s a symptom of their failure to grasp the truth….and to understand the Truth.

[30] Posted by cennydd13 on 2-18-2011 at 12:01 PM · [top]

Now wait a minute. I thought we had 1.8 million…Did I miss a baby boom?

[31] Posted by FrVan on 2-18-2011 at 02:20 PM · [top]

How many churches and people are we in full communion with, I wonder?

[32] Posted by FrVan on 2-18-2011 at 02:22 PM · [top]

At a decrease of 2.5% per year, the membership is cut in half in 27.3 years. However, the aging population will start dying off faster. With the infant baptism rate falling even quicker, I am expect that losses accelerate.

[33] Posted by robroy on 2-18-2011 at 02:28 PM · [top]

#27—That’s what Louie Crew and the Executive Council turned it in to.

[34] Posted by David Keller on 2-18-2011 at 02:35 PM · [top]

What I don’t get is why the media and everyone else gets to continue calling these denominations “Mainline.”  The grand total of all seven of ‘em is less than 21.8 million people.  Thats only about 7.3% of the entire U.S. population (and, I think the numbers in the article include the members of the denominations from foreign countries).

Southern Baptists have more than 16 million, and they are making a concerted effort to purge their roles of non-attenders.  The Roman Catholics have 60 million all by themselves.  The Mormons claim to have 12 million (almost twice the largest Mainline group above).

And this doesn’t even take into consideration those that consider themselves independent non-denominational or Pentecostals or something like that.  Those groups have to be 3-5 times bigger than any of the “Mainline” groups.

Heck . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t more aethiests in the U.S. than the grand total of all the “Mainlines.”

It’s obvious that none of them carry the national and cultural social influence that they may have carried in the past.  Soooo . . . why do we still continue to refer to them as “Mainline?”  In reality . . . these are the “fringe” groups.

[35] Posted by Eddie Swain on 2-18-2011 at 03:36 PM · [top]

That means they lost approximately 93,657 people….give or take a few thousand.  That’s a significant loss.  I wonder how that happened?

A number of years ago, Charles Fulton, who was then head of TEC’s office for evangelism (which was de-funded a couple of years ago and no longer exists), wrote an article in which he gave the average age of an Episcopalian as being 57 years of age.  (Imagine a declining denomination eliminating its office of evangelism!—but that is for another thread.)  I then wrote a piece in which I said that if that is the case, given average life expectancies, then we can expect to see half of TEC’s membership die in the next 18 years.  Given the fact that the 60% of Episcopal congregations have a membership of 100 or less, how many of these congregations will remain viable with the loss of half their membership?  The loss of members whose churches have closed, and who will not find their way into other Episcopal congregations, will most likely accelerate the overall rate of membership decline.  All this is happening, and the rate of implosion will increase as time goes on.

This problem attests to at least three things: (1) TEC knows NOTHING about evangelism—zilch, zip, nada.  (2) TEC has no generally agreed, coherent understanding of the message of the Gospel to present to those it should be reaching (which helps to explain #1).  (3) TEC churches are doing as bad a job of retaining their own young people as they are in evangelism (and for the same reason—no coherent understanding and presentation of the Gospel).

[36] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 2-18-2011 at 03:39 PM · [top]

#36—Two things.  (1) Charles Fulton was a really great leader of Congregational Development.  I worked with him over a 6 year period and he was super.  (2) What you say is not totally correct.  Previous EC’s have had a general idea about what happens in an evangelistic environment and because bringing people to know the living Lord doesn’t fit their political agenda, they intentionally killed evangelism in TEC. They killed 20/20, got rid of its creators and defunded congregational development to fund a law suit coordinator.

[37] Posted by David Keller on 2-18-2011 at 04:10 PM · [top]

[35] Eddie Swain,

My reaction to your comment

What I don’t get is why the media and everyone else gets to continue calling these denominations “Mainline”

is that perhaps a better moniker might be “Flatline.”

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[38] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 2-18-2011 at 04:14 PM · [top]

Dean Munday’s essay that he links in #36 is a good one. Unfortunately the data is now a little dated. I would be very interested in the current average (and median) age. I am fairly sure that is going up by almost one every year. That is to say, there is very little new blood coming in. I don’t think the TEClub establishment wants to know, and they certainly don’t want the laity to know.

Dean Munday alludes to why I think that membership loss will accelerate in the future. The median parish attendance is 66. Most of these are not viable and aren’t going to be viable. Age attrition hurts the smaller parishes a lot harder. Also parish endowments are limited as are diocesan ones. Most of the time, when a church dies, the monies including that from sale of the property goes into general funds. Therefore, the dioceses will push churches to merge. The law for Episcopal mergers is 1+1 = 1 or perhaps 40 + 60 = 70. Thus, there are stair step losses: attendance goes from 40 + 60 = 100 to 70. With endowments gone, the new 70 ASA parish will then fairly quickly fold as well.

[39] Posted by robroy on 2-18-2011 at 06:53 PM · [top]

TEC hates the Gospel, but has nothing positive with which to replace it except sociology.  It simply will not fly - it has the aerodynamics of a brick.

[40] Posted by AnglicanXn on 2-18-2011 at 07:39 PM · [top]

Their ‘gospel’ IS sociology…..and nothing else!

[41] Posted by cennydd13 on 2-18-2011 at 08:09 PM · [top]

Their ‘gospel’ IS sociology…..and nothing else!

And the sociology essays are being graded by an oceanographer.

But seriously…several observations above just demonstrate what are standard statistical forecasting.  If the level of sustainability for a parish is 70 ASA, when the ASA falls below that point, the parish declines quickly, and the diocese and TEC then lose not only the 2 or 3 that might have left in any given year, but everyone not willing to travel to the next parish over.  In rural areas, this might be a half hour or even hour away- and the whole remainder congregation may join other local denominations rather than make the trip.
  But the main problem is that TEC has missed what I see as the #1 cause of its decline- TEC members are embarrassed to bring their friends and family to church with them.  I know it impacted me in a couple TEC parishes I was part of in the last 10 years.  I was never sure what “new thing” might pop up in the liturgy, what lines might be cut out of the readings for sake of political correctness, or silly thing might come out of the rector’s mouth- or worse, the bishop when he was visiting. I wouldn’t have wanted visitors exposed to that, or thinking I might actually believe it. On the other hand, for a short period, we had a retired priest fill in, he preached the real Gospel, included theology and Scriptural teaching in his sermons, started a new Bible study and looked after the congregation pastorally (which had not been the case with the former rector), and lo and behold, attendance went up, just on word of mouth, and you occasionally saw not only the 70 year old “regular” but her children and her children’s children.

[42] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-19-2011 at 09:33 AM · [top]

The mainline has become the sideline and darned proud of it.

[43] Posted by Pb on 2-19-2011 at 03:45 PM · [top]

cennydd13 wrote:

I haven’t heard of any TEC startups in California…

To be perfectly fair, though, the former Episcopal Diocese of San J. never in its history started up a single new church BEFORE the split.  It had the same number of churches when it split as it did when it was created.

[44] Posted by Pressing On on 2-19-2011 at 09:24 PM · [top]

But I believe that the Anglican Diocese of SJ unburdened by the heretics has had church starts - is that not correct cennydd13?

[45] Posted by robroy on 2-20-2011 at 12:11 AM · [top]

Really people—the PB has said over and over, it’s not quantity, it’s quality!  After all TEC is not populated by a bunch of mindless breeders!

(In all honesty—it’s really too sad—but not surprising)

[46] Posted by Summersnow on 2-20-2011 at 12:26 AM · [top]

Eddie Swain:  I like what you said about these so-called “mainline” churches which are actually dying.  Thanks.

44. Pressing on.  The largest ASA in DSJ is and has been for quite a few years, Our Lady of Guadalupe Hispanic Congregation, meeting twice on Sundays at the Cathedral.  Also, there have been two Pilipino Congregations in the former Episcopal Diocese, as well as a Yaqui mission, which was assimilated into OLG.  It is inaccurate to say no growth happened in the former DSJ.

[47] Posted by utmost on 2-22-2011 at 03:45 AM · [top]

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.

Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more explanation, and the posts here, here, and here for advice on becoming a valued commenter as opposed to an ex-commenter. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments which you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm site administrators or Gri5th Media, LLC.