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Welcome to Stand Firm!

Perhaps the Bishops are Eating Their Parishioners?

Thursday, July 17, 2008 • 9:51 am


That would be one explanation for the graph produced by the Times of London that the Boar’s Head Tavern is pointing us to. It has to be seen to be believed:


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Comments:

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

[1] Posted by Piedmont on 07-17-2008 at 10:03 AM • top

It would be interesting to see a similar graph for States that had comparable Episcopal Congregations in the mid 19th Century. 

But shouldn’t the mitres grow wider, if the Bishops are swallowing up parishioners?

[2] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 07-17-2008 at 10:04 AM • top

That’s sobering.  I agree, it would be interesting to see a chart for (P)ECUSA/TEC.  Place them next to one for Nigeria, and I wonder if it might be even more sobering?

[3] Posted by Connecticutian on 07-17-2008 at 10:12 AM • top

This would make wonderful material for an indaba reflection!

[4] Posted by Milton on 07-17-2008 at 10:12 AM • top

Pshew. I bet the picture for TEC would be even more astonishing. Great graphic picture of a church running amok.  Piedmont has it in a nutshell.

[5] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 10:14 AM • top

Hey,a man’s gotta eat right…vision of Bugs Bunny in cannibal pot as Elmer Fudd slices carrots…
Intercessor

[6] Posted by Intercessor on 07-17-2008 at 10:15 AM • top

Eventually the babies will be baptizing the Bishops, who will perhaps be the ones with diapers on their heads instead of miters.

[7] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 07-17-2008 at 10:21 AM • top

Hey! Wait a minute…..I thought the “New Thing” that God is doing would be filling the churches to the brink? I thought the innovations were of God and that anything that is of God produces fruit, right?
Well, where’s the fuit?

[8] Posted by TLDillon on 07-17-2008 at 10:26 AM • top
[9] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 07-17-2008 at 10:29 AM • top

where’s the fuit

Je suis tres bien merci beaucoup..sa va?
Le Intercessor

[10] Posted by Intercessor on 07-17-2008 at 10:31 AM • top

Just back from the vet with my sick dog.  Thanks for the laugh; I needed a pick me up.  Now, someone who isn’t caring for an aging beagle, go out and generate the same chart for TECcorp.

[11] Posted by Michael+ on 07-17-2008 at 10:32 AM • top

LOL, mousestalker.

[12] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 10:33 AM • top

Heterosexual birth rate has been declining in the West for some time now, which partly explains this chart. Meanwhile, birth rates for homosexual couples has pretty much stayed at historical levels, so they are not to blame. 

Easy to see, then, the wisdom behind full inclusion. grin

[13] Posted by sandiegoanglicans.com on 07-17-2008 at 10:37 AM • top

Please, let’s not ignore the obvious decline in the growth rate of the number of bishops.  All should take heart that things are getting worse at a slower rate!

[14] Posted by RalphM on 07-17-2008 at 10:39 AM • top

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
More apropos, perhaps: “Too many chefs spoil the broth.”

[15] Posted by Anthony in NYC on 07-17-2008 at 10:41 AM • top

But Ralph, the ones we have are growing fatter!! Somebody better keep a careful eye on those few fellows left in green. I think it’s time for the bishop’s nuncheon.

[16] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 10:41 AM • top

One other thought, the obvious deduction is that the fewer bishops, the larger the church. Maybe Calvin was on to something after all? If we really want the Anglican Communion to bloom, we need to take out Lambeth. Doing the math, if we eliminate that many bishops at one time then we should have a worldwide Anglican membership of around a billion.

It would be totally wrong, but think of the evangelism potential!

The Episcopal Church: Our reality will outweird your surreality any day of the week.

[17] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 07-17-2008 at 10:45 AM • top

Heh, and conservative TEC dioceses’ ASAs are doing so fantastically well. What’s your secret?:

Albany 12% loss (1996-2006) 10% loss (2001-2006)
Pittsburgh 1% loss (1996-2006) 10% loss (2001-2006)
Central Florida 8% loss (1996-2006) 7% loss (2001-2006)
South Carolina 22% growth (1996-2006) 6% growth (2001-2006)
Quincy 19% loss (1996-2006) 13% loss (2001-2006)
Springfield 22% loss (1996-2006) 18% loss (2001-2006)
Dallas 1% growth (1996-2006) 15% loss (2001-2006)
Fort Worth 1% growth (1996-2006) 4% loss (2001-2006)
Rio Grande 1% growth (1996-2996) 12% loss (2001-2006)
San Joaquin 8% loss (1996-2006) 15% (2001-2006)

Oh I know, TEC heresy is driving people away, even in conservative dioceses. grin

[18] Posted by Micky on 07-17-2008 at 10:52 AM • top

Um, yes? Whole churches have left orthodox dioceses - to get out before an orthodox bishop was replaced by someone like Our Lady of the Iron Fist.

[19] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 10:56 AM • top

In all fairness, I imagine similar charts for the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, Italy or France would show much the same thing.  Europe has been rapidly abandoning Christianity throughout the 20th Century, and now even quicker in the 21st Century.

[20] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 11:00 AM • top

Micky—those are understandable numbers for a corrupt heretical national church.  I’d be surprised to see dioceses doing well in the-church-that-believes-nothing-save-inclusion-for-liberals.  Conservative dioceses are not somehow inoculated against the effects of being in a revisionist national entity.

[21] Posted by Sarah on 07-17-2008 at 11:01 AM • top

#19 Um, yes? Whole churches have left orthodox dioceses - to get out before an orthodox bishop was replaced by someone like Our Lady of the Iron Fist.

Yes, and everyone will be avidly looking at their ASA’s, growth rates, etc. from now on - i.e. growth in new members, not simply disgruntled shifts from TEC. That’s if they ever actually release any figures.

They’ve (literally) walked-the-walk, let them now talk-the-talk.

[22] Posted by Micky on 07-17-2008 at 11:02 AM • top

We live in a culture that makes faith and affirmation difficult.

[23] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 11:03 AM • top

Fuit

c’est la mot just.

[24] Posted by Creedal Episcopalian on 07-17-2008 at 11:07 AM • top

Intercessor & Creedal Episcopalian
Just part of my charm typing in tongues! smile

[25] Posted by TLDillon on 07-17-2008 at 11:11 AM • top

#22 Micky. You wrote: 

They’ve (literally) walked-the-walk, let them now talk-the-talk.

I thank you for your comment. From the bottom of my heart. Because in that one compact sentence you summarized what exactly is wrong with the revisionist position.

The rhetoric comes first, then comes the action. You have it reversed. Some of the churches in exile will flourish, others will not. Anecdotally, it appears that alternative Anglicanism in the US is embiggening itself and swelling their ranks. But my perception of this is based upon the four churches I’m aware of that are doing well and the one that is not.

All that aside, there does seem to be a correlation between bishops and decline. The ones that are doing the best are the ones that are not headed by priests with delusions of grandeur. The struggling church has the most fully fleshed out hierarchy of the lot. Further, the healthiest breakaway has the least hierarchy and the most children.

There isn’t enough data to arrive at a conclusion, but the data is provocative.

And perhaps bishops do (metaphorically) eat babies.

Pessimistic reappraisers see the church as 90% empty. Optimistic ones see it as 10% full.

[26] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 07-17-2008 at 11:12 AM • top

Mickey, did you not consider how many folks left TEC, even the orthodox dioceses, and formed their own Anglican church under Southern Cone or an African Province?  To point to the traditionalists for downturn in numbers in a wildly liberal denomination is a bit odd.

[27] Posted by GoodMissMurphy on 07-17-2008 at 11:19 AM • top

The graph sure looks like the results of a Pac Man game.

[28] Posted by hanks on 07-17-2008 at 11:19 AM • top

My Statistics Alarm is going off at the site of this chart. It’s quite evident it’s a propogandist publication and it wouldn’t surprise me if at least one person behind it is a non-Christian looking to debase the Christian Church.

Numbers of X in the left column, percentages Y/Z in the right. That’s the first problem. If you compare numbers and percentages, the percentage column MUST have X (the raw numbers on the left column) involved it the calculation. Here, X is not involved in the right column’s calculation. That being the case, the right column needs also to be raw numbers. Tell us the number of bishops AND the number of baptized. There are so many variables with the unrelated percentages that aren’t made known here. What’s the base married population for each year? What’s the fertility rate for each year? What’s the mortality rate?

Next problem: the right column is percentages of babies of ALL of England (Jews, Romans, Presbeterians, etc.) but being baptized into ONLY the CoE. As other faith populations grow, the percentage of CoE members of the whole drops. So simply giving a percentage of ALL babies in England is meaningless. Ths chart suggests (but fails miserably) that in 1850, 80% of England’s population was CoE, and in 2008 only 15% are.

Third problem: Why is the count of bishops couped with baptisms, percentages or otherwise? There’s an indirect link I suppose, but unless the CoE has a canon saying only a bishop may baptize a baby (which I doubt), there’s no direct link. The direct link, the REQUIRED presence of a bishop, is twofold: ordination and confirmation. If the right column was the total count of ordinations and confirmations, then we’d be talking about a chart that had some meaning.

It’s little more than an attempt to relate two independent measurements.

As a data analyst, if you handed this chart to me in a business meeting I’d study it for a moment, turn it 180 degrees, flip it over to look at the (presumably) blank back, then look at you and ask, “Huh?”

I’m not at all suggesting there are the right number of bishops. I agree with the unwritten message of this chart: There are way too many, and with female bishops in the offing, there will likely be far more just to get them into the game ASAP. And there is no denying what has happened between 1975 and 2008, even if we don’t have raw numbers (otherwise, England would have had to quadrupled in population at the very least, and I think that would have made the news at least once).

But this sort of “statistics” just makes me cringe. It probably does have accidental meaning from 1975 to 2008, but it is hardly forthright and honest in its comparisons of numbers. Mark Twain popularized a Disreali quip that runs like this: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.”

I’d love to see a proper accounting for the need of the growing number of bishops. But throwing out any ol’ document that only visually implies their declining work ethic is manipulation of the masses.

I’m sure a number of commenters here will jump on my case and accuse me of saying we need more bishops. That’s not what I wrote and not what I believe. I’m addressing this chart. This chart only, and no other chart. This chart is hogwash.

[29] Posted by Antique on 07-17-2008 at 11:28 AM • top

Intercessor, funny you should mention “slicing carrots”, isn’t that the new theme thingy for TEO?

Grannie Gloria

[30] Posted by Grandmother on 07-17-2008 at 11:29 AM • top

Numbers of X in the left column, percentages Y/Z in the right.

Antique, I wondered about that. Thanks.

[31] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 11:37 AM • top

Hmmm.  Two years ago when he visited our parish, I asked our Ugandan bishop how many people were in his diocese.  “600,000,” he replied.  I was so astonished, I didn’t ask him if he meant specifically Anglicans or the general population, but if you take the 8,782,821 members from the Wikipedia listing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Uganda and divide it by 31 dioceses, the number is 283,317 per diocese. Add a few thousand more Americans and you’ll probably end up with about 300,000 per bishop.

[32] Posted by Sue Martinez on 07-17-2008 at 11:45 AM • top

“Perhaps the Bishops are Eating Their Parishioners?”

Well, that is what wolves do to sheep.

[33] Posted by st. anonymous on 07-17-2008 at 11:49 AM • top

Regarding San Jauquin (8% loss), Keep in mind this was the year before our realignment and we were bleeding out BECAUSE we were still in TEC.  My congregation saw seven families walk away that year, most because we didn’t act fast enough as a diocese, and others because they were worried about possible conflict.  Since our realignment we have been growing again, but I don’t know this for the rest of my diocese.  The Remain Episcopal garbage has complicated things.  I would be interested in this year’s ASA for certain key congregations in San Joaquin, but not for the whole because we can’t make straight comparisons.  Next year, however, would be a key year to look at things.

[34] Posted by FrWes on 07-17-2008 at 11:53 AM • top

Oopps, typo:  San Joaquin not San Jauquin

[35] Posted by FrWes on 07-17-2008 at 11:54 AM • top

I don’t think there is anything especially misleading about the use of percentages in the third column. In fact, raw numbers of baptisms might be misleading, since it would then leave out the increase in the population of Britain.

It seems to me that the third column is attempting to measure the residual impact of the church on society. At the present time, 85% of the population won’t go to a CofE church even once to baptize their child, let alone going regularly to worship. The percentage of the population that will make that effort is plummeting even faster than the official ASA.

[36] Posted by Tamsf on 07-17-2008 at 12:43 PM • top

Antique, I think you are seeing flaws where there are none.  The message of the chart is quite clear and simple.  The number of people attending COE had dropped dramatically.  The percentage of infants born in England each year getting baptized in the COE has dropped to a barely significant percentage of the popopulation.  The lack of new baptisms means that new children are not replacing the membership of the COE.  Other stats have shown that the average age of the parishioners actually attending services is fairly high. 

Ergo, the COE as a influence in England is no where near what it was even 50 years ago, much less 100 years ago.  The “other faiths” don’t even come into the picture.  If anything, the growth of “other faiths” only emphasises the decline of the COE, as they displace Anglicanism for influence.  Of course, we’ve also see in other reports that what is really replacing Anglicanism in England is not Catholicism or Prebyterianism, but athiesm, agnoticism and Islam.

[37] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 12:46 PM • top

Antique (#29) I agree with you completely.  I would dearly love to see the raw statistics and methodology for the chart in order to get a better idea at what kind of apples (crabapples?) and oranges (blood oranges?) are being compared.  8-)

[38] Posted by zana on 07-17-2008 at 12:48 PM • top

Here’s the original story from the TimesOnline:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article4346942.ece

Doesn’t really address the statistical anomalies, but…

[39] Posted by leonL on 07-17-2008 at 01:02 PM • top

The percentages are the most relevant statistic here. The number of Bishops is just a byproduct of a declining church and poor management.

The Church of England is moving from a church with limited political influence to a political body with a limited Christian influence.  It has some good leaders, but as a church its not a body to which we should look for leadership.

We fight as if the future Christendom depends on whether Schofield or our other leaders are recognized by Canterbury.  That battle has become a millstone around our neck.

[40] Posted by Going Home on 07-17-2008 at 01:04 PM • top

Who do we need to talk to for a similar graph of TEC?

[41] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-17-2008 at 01:18 PM • top

#10 - Sen. Obama would be proud of you.  You managed more than just “merci beaucoup.”  Or has the Senator pronounced it, “Mercy bow-koo.”

[42] Posted by Carol R on 07-17-2008 at 01:21 PM • top

AndrewA,

The message of the chart is quite clear and simple.

No, I disagree. The message is INTENDED to be quite clear and simple, but the actual columns are unrelated and therefore anything but clear.

The number of people attending COE had dropped dramatically.

So I understand. Two questions for you:

1. Where on this chart does it say anything about the number of people attending church? Baptized Christians are not the same thing as numbers attending church.

2. What is the correlation or dependency between the number of bishops and the number of people attending church?

The percentage of infants born in England each year getting baptized in the COE has dropped to a barely significant percentage of the popopulation.

That, in point of fact, is something this chart actually DOES convey. I’ve no disagreement with your statement as it is actually reflected on the chart.

The lack of new baptisms means that new children are not replacing the membership of the COE.

For 1975-2008, that would seem to be an implied conclusion due ONLY to the huge reduction of percentages of the entire population being baptized in the CoE. However, your statement has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the number of bishops.

I’d suggest there are also reasons such as a native population not increasing while immigration and 1st generation Brits is increasing. I’d also suggest the cause could be baptisms in other Christian churches. This chart deals only with CoE baptisms, not Christian baptisms. To conclude CoE is the only Christian church in England is an error. The effect of those baptisms into other denominations isn’t made known in this chart. This chart limits itself to CoE baptisms and gives no indication as to the TOTAL baptisms, so to concluse only 15% of the population is baptized at all is an error.

Other stats have shown that the average age of the parishioners actually attending services is fairly high.

I’ve read such claims before and who am I to argue with them? But I still point out:

There is NO REQUIRED correlation of the number of bishops as relates to the percentage of the ENTIRE population being baptized into the CoE. And that would seem to be what this chart is trying to say. The ONLY REQUIRED correlation between bishops and CoE members is how may ordinands and confirmands do these bishops have to consecrate? We may as well claim more (or less) bishops are needed because more (or less) marriage or burial offices are being performed.

I’m also really confused about the perceived relationship between the number of baptized, the number of confirmed and the number of weekly attendees as relates to the need for the number of bishops? Don’t irregular attendees get pastoral care from a bishop, or are they ruled out of order and have to get themselves to church for a few weeks before getting an audience with a bishop? How does a baptized person, or the act of baptism itself, demand or not demand another bishop? Whether 10 or 500 people attend a parish church weekly, what difference does that make to the number of bishops required?

It’s like saying the number of DPS Drivers License offices is dependent on the number of roads. There’s no correlation. The number of offices is dictated (one hopes) by the number of renewed licenses plus the number of new licenses, less those who die or do not renew their licence. The number of roads, meanwhile, is dependent upon the movement a populations into areas where not enough roads exist to support the traffic demands. You determine the number of DPS offices based on the number of people actually requiring the particular service of new or renewed licenses. The number of roads has nothing to do with it.

As I said in my previous post, I’m not questioning there are too many bishops. I’m questioning the math, professionalism and relevancy of this chart that purports to say something it simply does not. It makes itself out to be some sort of statistical proof there are too many bishops. It fails miserably. All it says is how many bishops there are, and what percentage of the population is baptized into the CoE. Any correlation a reader makes between the two is simply in their own mind.

The better way is to redo this report and instead of percentage of baptized, use raw numbers for ordinands plus confirmands. Then, at least, we have a formal correlation between the number of bishops in the left column with a MEASURABLE need for them in the right column.

[43] Posted by Antique on 07-17-2008 at 01:41 PM • top

-Creighton is adding a co-conspirator in the diocese of South Dakota this fall.  Compared to parishoners and church plantings in this diocese, bishops are growing a lot like the andromeda strain (and their theology is about as deadly).

[44] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 07-17-2008 at 01:53 PM • top

You know, it may be that the best thing that could happen to TEC would be for it to reach the bottom of its money bucket - or close enough to shed the vast array of salaried personnel it’s accumulated. Was that money given to fund a bureaucracy or to spread the Word of God?

[45] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 01:54 PM • top

Welcome one and all to the CoE Bishops’ Club! With the decline in lay participation, all future members of CoE will be asked to fill out the Clergy registration card indicating if you are interested in being a Priest or Bishop. No previous experience necessary - in fact preferred not if possible, theology and the like being so troublesome and all. Once you have submitted your registration, depending you will be asked which meetings you would like to attend depending on which set of cloth you prefer (Priest/Bishop). All club activities are sponsored directly from the pension funds as supplemented by the properties acquisition and real estate commission. Once your registration is received we will send you a very nice decorative plaque with your clerical order embossed and decorated, suitable for mounting. You will also receive a list of all the most fashionable clerical clothing stores, with all the latest fashions in stoles, chausibles decorated with rainbows, labyrinths, henges, or any pagan or religious design in the catalog. For our +members in TEC or ACA you will have to chose which HOB meetings (Atlantic City, Montreal, Miami, San Francisco (with parade spot!, Los Angeles, Los Vegas)you wish to attend. You will also get complimentary travel and cellphone arrangements to attend the Lambeth Picnic as well asfree access to all of our Integrity parties! Join now and your first collar and stole are free. Call toll-free and we will throw in two, completely maintenance-free parishes for your diocese. The fine parishes will have at least one historic structure (formerly called churches), but without all the fuss and bother of actual attenders. Your ASA numbers will be chosen at random and automatically reported - you just sit back and enjoy the respect and adoration of your local community as you swan about in your collar. Welcome once again to CoE/TEC our newest bishops/priests!

[46] Posted by masternav on 07-17-2008 at 02:12 PM • top

Micky:

Re:  Growth in Conservative Parishes

Sorry, Micky, fresh new members come only from Orthodoxy

Since my parish LEFT TEC our membership has DOUBLED.  We also now have a college ministry - we never could start before - as well as lots of adorable babies, children and young families.

Oh - and MY BISHOP is John Guernsey - and YES, He ROCKS! smile  I believe we’ve increased our parish count to around 46 - 47 in the past two years.

[47] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 02:24 PM • top

What I want to know is what excuse the CoE gave for increasing the number of Bishops by 13 between 1975 and 2008. Did the roads disappear in Britain—the telecommunications system collapse—all the cars disappear —or what—that they needed more of them when the workload was shrinking?

[48] Posted by MargaretG on 07-17-2008 at 02:24 PM • top

Oh, yeah, Uganda is awesome… just awesome… oh yeah…

[49] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 02:25 PM • top

MargaretG :

I agree -

“In the multitude of bishops there wanteth not sin, but he who refrains from giving out multi-miters is wise…”

[50] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 02:27 PM • top

Heh, and conservative TEC dioceses’ ASAs are doing so fantastically well. What’s your secret?

“Hey Micky you’re so fine, Hey Micky….” I can’t remember all the words to the song, anyway fascinating post on numbers. I think you have made an interesting point.

[51] Posted by FrVan on 07-17-2008 at 02:31 PM • top

FrVan -

However, incomplete and misleading that point may be in the light of cold reality.

[52] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 02:34 PM • top

#52. “cold reality,” indeed, it is cold reality.

[53] Posted by FrVan on 07-17-2008 at 02:39 PM • top

1. Where on this chart does it say anything about the number of people attending church? Baptized Christians are not the same thing as numbers attending church.

See first column. 

2. What is the correlation or dependency between the number of bishops and the number of people attending church?

Ever heard of the concept of “top heavy”?

I’d suggest there are also reasons such as a native population not increasing while immigration and 1st generation Brits is increasing. I’d also suggest the cause could be baptisms in other Christian churches. This chart deals only with CoE baptisms, not Christian baptisms. To conclude CoE is the only Christian church in England is an error.

Why should a chart about the COE concern itself with other churches?

indication as to the TOTAL baptisms, so to concluse only 15% of the population is baptized at all is an error.

But we aren’t interested in them.  We are interested in Anglicans. 

The better way is to redo this report and instead of percentage of baptized, use raw numbers for ordinands plus confirmands. Then, at least, we have a formal correlation between the number of bishops in the left column with a MEASURABLE need for them in the right column.

Actually the entire article is downright silly, now that I’ve read it, but I think the implications that can be made for the declining influence of the Church of England as a percentage of the population can be clear.

[54] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 02:54 PM • top

It certainly tells me that rather than serving the needs of the faithful, the faithful are expected to serve the needs of the bishops. No wonder with each new generation the numbers of members increasingly diminishes.

[55] Posted by mari on 07-17-2008 at 02:55 PM • top

TEC has experienced a pronounced fall off in membership and church attendance since Gene Robinson’s consecration.  Before that, diocesan growth, in many cases, was at least incremental. 

Despite assurances that “the decisions of General Convention was not the problem” it certainly was.

[56] Posted by from South Florida on 07-17-2008 at 03:30 PM • top

Rather than indagadaviding, perhaps the conferes ought to look to Agatha Christie for inspiration and play multiple sessions of “Ten Little Bishops”.

[57] Posted by Toral1 on 07-17-2008 at 03:45 PM • top

Goodie!!

So then, I can be a bishop in CoE, too ?!

- Manfred Moot, Ph.D., Th.D.

[58] Posted by J Eppinga on 07-17-2008 at 04:12 PM • top

Goodie!!

So then, I can be a bishop in CoE, too ?!

- Manfred Moot, Ph.D., Th.D.

Calling Dr. Pennyfeather….come in please…
Intercessor

[59] Posted by Intercessor on 07-17-2008 at 04:22 PM • top

Look here son, the Correct Term for this problem is what we call in the military “Over-Flagged!”, that is, too many Admirals and nowhere near enough sailors.  Makes for a stunning game of bridge, but really won’t move the ships very far.

KTF!...mrb

[60] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 07-17-2008 at 04:29 PM • top

FrVan -  

I understand that selective understanding is a liberal trait, however, try to comprehend that since LEAVING TEC our parish size HAS DOUBLED - as has gone from 80 to 160 (this is an increase of 50%).

Therefore, Micky’s stats are just - wrong.  Like as in not accurate.

[61] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 05:17 PM • top

#61 The stats aren’t wrong, unless you’re accusing said dioceses of submitting false ones. They are what they are and show that ‘conservative’ TEC dioceses have been no more or less successful than ‘liberal’ ones in church growth.

Now you can, and of course will, blame it all on people leaving in those dioceses because of the ‘heretical’ national church. (One could ask however - where are they leaving to in those dioceses? How prevalent are ‘alternative oversight’ churches in conservative dioceses, and does their growth mirror the diocese’s loss? Or are they leaving for other denominations and, if so, do they show signs of growth at TEC’s expense?)

But once you have left, the ‘heretical church’ excuse for declining numbers can no longer be used, and we will therefore see whether these churches grow or not. Of course, individual churches may initially grow (as yours). But it will be the long-term growth in general across the ‘alternative oversight’ churches that is important. Once they have reached a ‘high-point’, after having received all TEC’s disaffected, will they continue to grow or will they, as is the case in many (most?) American Churches, remain stagnant or begin a slow decline? And if they do, who gets the blame then…?

[62] Posted by Micky on 07-17-2008 at 06:03 PM • top

As for accusing the CoE of being ‘top heavy’ episcopally, perhaps we should remember that CANA has 5 bishops for 60ish congregations. If we transferred that ratio to the CoE, they’d have about 800+ bishops.grin

[63] Posted by Micky on 07-17-2008 at 06:11 PM • top

#62, would you be so kind as to point to a successful revisionist diocese please? Successful being defined as sustained growth over the past ten years or so. If you would rather discuss success as being growth over the past five, I’d be game for that as well.

I am not being snarky, just curious.

And lazy.

The Episcopal Church: Challenging your Christian Faith for over thirty years.

[64] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 07-17-2008 at 06:11 PM • top

Micky,
Let’s also remember that 3 of those CANA churches (or 4?) have more membership and ASA than the TEC diocese I live in. I don’t know offhand what CANA membership is, but it certainly would not surprise me if it was larger than several (5 anyway) of TEC’s smaller dioceses put together.

[65] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-17-2008 at 06:17 PM • top

Micky, take a gandar at a map and compare the size of England to the United States.  CANA is far more spread out, and gas isn’t cheep.

[66] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 06:20 PM • top

#64 I don’t believe I said there were any. That’s the point. Most churches, conservative/liberal/whatever, are suffering decline. Europe is well ahead in this regard, but the US is now feeling it to - and finding it increasingly uncomfortable due to having (compared to most Western countries) a very high church-going population.

Take e.g. the Roman Catholic Church in Europe - as doctrinally orthodox as it is, it is still losing swathes of people. It is easy to point the finger at ‘conservatives’ or ‘liberals’ within the Church driving people away - but that can blind one to much deeper cultural and social reasons.

[67] Posted by Micky on 07-17-2008 at 06:22 PM • top

And while we are at it, TEC has 100 diocesans for an ASA of 750,000- or 7500 per diocesan, about 3000 per bishop when you throw in suffragans, co-adjutors and active retired.  The average Nigerian diocesan has 75-100,000.  And I am willing to bet that the average TEC bishop’s expense account is more than a Nigerian bishop’s salary.

[68] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-17-2008 at 06:22 PM • top

Micky is right, actually, at least ways as far as Europe goes.  I think it is safe to say, like I did earlier, that similar stats could no doubt be produced for the Roman Catholic Church in France, Spain and Italy.  The difference is that so far, Rome at least does a pretty good job at not letting the hostile anti-Christian culture of Europe deter it from speaking unpopular truths, while there is nothing that the ever so fashionable mainliners like the Episcopalians can’t tolerate less then being taking stands that make them unpopular with the new atheist mainstream, so they, as they clearly state, are doing their best to follow society’s lead rather than leading society.

[69] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 06:31 PM • top

Micky, to the best of my knowledge, and maybe you can verify this, there are two dioceses in the Episcopal Church with significant growth: South Carolina and Tennessee. Interestingly, the two dioceses are in areas with dissimilar demographics.

You seem to accept the idea that the church will grow increasingly irrelevant and therefore wither and die.

You lack historical perspective. History is replete with examples of the church making a comeback in areas where it had been dormant. However, in making a comeback, it is helpful to see if anyone is doing well, and if so, what commonalities they share with each other. Hence my question.

Tennessee and South Carolina are both orthodox dioceses. That is one commonality. Are there possibly others that would explain how it is that they are bucking the national trend?

I think that the Church is needed in this world. Even more to the point, the world needs to accept my Saviour as their Saviour. Each and every person needs to come to Him. Church plays an important role in this. It is the community of the faithful. It is His body, present in this world.

Rubber meets the road time Micky. How do we spread the Word? How do we embiggen the Church? How do we bring them to Him?
Two diocese seem to have a clue as to that. Ninety eight arguably do not.

I fear His Justice. I pray for His Mercy.

[70] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 07-17-2008 at 06:43 PM • top

Interesting: the C of E has a larger ASA than TEc; 900,000 to 797,000.

[71] Posted by The Pilgrim on 07-17-2008 at 07:29 PM • top

I wonder what percentage of bishops the CofE has at Lambeth? It would be hard for a national Anglican church to have smaller attendance than TEC?

[72] Posted by oscewicee on 07-17-2008 at 07:46 PM • top

Micky:

you’re accusing said dioceses of submitting false ones.

No, I know they are shall we say ‘inaccurate’ - knowing the numbers reported for my former diocese of Montana and the reality of the situation.  Things like reporting 312 members when you perhaps have 50 - or over a thousand when there might be 200 who really attend.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that TEC long ago lost integrity with numbers amongst all it’s other virtues.  It is the same across the board in TEC.  It’s like trying to tell everyone the blow up bouncy castle you keep putting air into is the same as the real thing.

This is the sad thing - EVEN with their inaccurate numbers these churches are declining.  In Montana’s case - their ‘6000’ active TEC’s are really about ‘1200’ - and that’s being generous.

Re:  Continuing Churches

Mine is only one of Uganda’s 40 + churches and most of us are growing leaps and bounds because we AREN’T just about finding disaffected TEC people - as you can see above, it would mean a rather minuscule portion of the population.

We have a novel concept - Tell People about the Reality of Christ and What He has Done.  Jesus is “The Way The Truth and The Life and No One can come to the Father Except by Him”.  That is the message that has changed the world for 2000 years - TEC has lost it and that is why they shall be an interesting blip in the sidelines of history in about 50 years.

How many diocese can you site that have grown by over forty parishes in the past two years?  Well, guess Uganda has you beat then.

Hence, your premise is false.

[73] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 07:49 PM • top

How exactly do they come up with attendence numbers anyway?  Someone standing in the back and counting heads when no one is looking?

[74] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 07:51 PM • top

Andrew:

Well, I don’t know how they do it everywhere, but at my former parish they would take attendance every week, average it and then get the ASA - using the high and low numbers to counter-balance one another. IF it is done the way it SHOULD be…  which obviously isn’t happening in certain places…

[75] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 07:56 PM • top

The friends and aquaintences that I have who are Catholic have told me that they or others who have lapsed, have done so because they either experienced or perceived a disconnect or hypocrisy on the part of their parish priests or within their diocese. Not because they have lost faith.

[76] Posted by mari on 07-17-2008 at 08:12 PM • top

So would they call roll during the service or just have someone in the back counting heads?  I know all the Baptist churches I went to as a kid took attendence during Sunday School, so if you were at service but not Sunday School, you don’t get counted.

[77] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 08:19 PM • top

The canons speak about members and communicants. Our dedicated ushers count those who get up to receive communion, and add to that number the LEMs, acolytes, worship team, etc. The numbers of communicants (yes, including children) for both weekend services are added for the weekend total. That number is then added to the totals for all the weekends of the year and divided by the number of weekends to get the ASA. Not specifically the total number of people who attended because we have visitors (and some members) who are not counted because they choose not to receive communion. I have attended a couple of morning prayer services at another church in our area and I have NO idea how they figure the attendance.

Then you also have the whole mythology of counting the people on the membership rolls. Those are the people who at one time registered as members of the church. As long as they don’t request an official transfer of membership, those folks (and their grown children living three states away) remain on the membership rolls until someone gets around to purging a list. Most churches aren’t likely to do that because representation at diocesan councils is based on the total membership. The larger your membership, the more delegates you get.

I have bored myself into a stupor.

[78] Posted by AnnieCOA on 07-17-2008 at 08:21 PM • top

Falls Church VA has two Morning Prayer+ Sermon and Offeratory services that appear to be its most heavy attended services.  They get a large crowd at the 9:00 semi-traditional Morning Prayer Service and an equally large crowd at the 11:00 am service, not to mention the two Holy Communion services at 8:00 and 11:00.  Beats me how anyone could count all those heads without messing up.

[79] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 08:26 PM • top

#79AndrewA: Howdy neighbor! Their 11am service is exactly the one I was talking about. (My son sometimes subs for their bass player.) At Church of the Apostles, just down the road in Fairfax, we are a bit smaller and have two services, both with communion. Sorry to have gone into so much detail with my explanation of ASA. It is a little complicated, though. I am sure my good friends at The Falls Church have it figured out and down to a science.

[80] Posted by AnnieCOA on 07-17-2008 at 08:37 PM • top

AnnieCOA, I asked a question and you game me an answer.  No need to say you are sorry.

I’ve visited Falls Church and All Saints Dale City, though right now I’m going to my parent’s Baptist church.  I grew up Southern Baptist and only recently got interested in Anglicanism, just in time for this mess.  I could see myself joining ADV, except that I have friends and commitments where I am right now that I’m not ready to leave behind.

[81] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 08:45 PM • top

Gave.  Make that gave.  Must…  start… editing…

[82] Posted by AndrewA on 07-17-2008 at 08:52 PM • top

Cool! Now I know who to come to with my questions about the wonderful Southern Baptist church we attend when we are on vacation in southwestern VA. I’m a card-carrying Roman Catholic myself, but LOVE my church and consider it home and am still learning all the Anglicanese. I showed up on Apostles doorstep just in time for the fireworks of the Bishop Righter (spell?) heresy trial that ultimately determined there was no “core teaching” on homosexuality in the doctrine of The Episcopal Church. Sigh.

Glad to have you as part of the conversation!

[83] Posted by AnnieCOA on 07-17-2008 at 08:58 PM • top

I tell you, from a historical perspective, I can’t help but believe that the creeping socialism, first of Europe and now of the Unites States has allowed us to replace God with Government.  This more than anything is emptying the Churches.  When the post WW2 governments on the European Main consolidated enormous numbers of jobs, services, and benefits into the structure of the government itself and began to socialize Europe, they replaced God with bureacrats. 

Don’t worry, once we have a couple of good sized epidemics, a war here or there killing millions, untold economic catastrophe on a global scale, tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanoes, maybe a small asteroid crunching into earth and those churches will fill up as fast as you please.  People conveniently forget about God until the fudge really hits the fan, and then they remember why we believe in the first place. 

Stiff-necked people have to be confronted with their own mortality and hit in the face with their own lack of control over events before they are driven back to God. 

Life is just too good (historically speaking) right now.  And the human species is NOT generally a thankful one, they’re much too happy absorbing all the credit for why things are good unto themselves.  It’s our nature.  From the birth canal on, we seek power and control. 

Those of you with children, you know of what I speak.  Remember that first game you played with your kids?  They throw something on the floor, usually a toy, and you bend over and pick it up, they get that gleam in their eye and throw it again, and before you know it you’ve picked it up four or five times?  Power, and control.

Governments push science, science replaces religion, and stays that way as long as times are good.

When things turn bad, trust me, the pews will be full again.  Sad but true.

KTF!!!  mrb

[84] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 07-17-2008 at 10:12 PM • top

Anniecoa—it looks like yall have got a building program. How is it going?

Fundraising for a complete new church complex is a daunting tax, but I know of a few churches that are well down that path, with one or two that may have already broken ground. It would be very interesting to get a report on new church construction.  How many new TEC churches are being built? Not many.

[85] Posted by Going Home on 07-17-2008 at 10:36 PM • top

AndrewA :

Re:  Church Numbers

The way my little Ugandan Church does it is with a clicker that the ushers use as people walk in.  As we are an orthodox parish, we don’t have to fabricate our numbers - so our numbers are accurate and we don’t have to make things up like TEC.

Re:  TEC being the Roach Motel

Another really annoying thing is whether you leave a TEC church - whether you give the priest a ‘we are leaving letter’ or not, they still count you as a member of their church.  For example, over 80 people left the former parish we were a part of in 2006 when they listed their members number as ‘308’ on the MT Diocesan Website.  If you go there now, and click on their ‘members’ number you will find that it’s now ‘312’.  So, no matter if you left, no matter if you sent a letter asking for your name to be removed, TEC doesn’t really care - you are a member even if you are dead.  My father put it perfectly, “The Episcopal Church is like the Roach Motel - you can go in, but you can never leave”. 

All of which is to say, they are so desperate for numbers that it just doesn’t matter - you can be in the columbarium, non-existent, left, just happened to wander in from the rain, or not even there at all and the Episcopal Church will snatch your number forever to shore up their non-existent membership roles.

[86] Posted by Eclipse on 07-17-2008 at 11:35 PM • top

Well now, Going Home, we are one of the CANA/ADV congregations in the middle of getting our butts sued off. So right now our fund raising is for legal fees in the firm belief that God’s justice will prevail and we will be keeping both our current building and the land for our new building.

[87] Posted by AnnieCOA on 07-17-2008 at 11:48 PM • top

The title of this piece is very intriguing: Perhaps the Bishops are Eating Their Parishioners.  In the BCP 1928 service for the Consecration of Bishops, as the Bishop is given a Bible he is admonished, “Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf: feed them, devour them not.”  Nearly the same words are used in the 1662 BCP and other books.  But, in the BCP 1979, the Bishop is told “Feed the flock of Christ committed to your charge…” There is no admonition not to devour them.  So, it must be OK to devour the flock. Maybe the CofE has the same philosophy.

[88] Posted by NedM on 07-24-2008 at 09:36 PM • top

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