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More Fun with TEC Stats

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 • 3:57 pm

Matt posted a link to the latest TEC stats and I thought I’d look through them for some of the whoppers and post them here.

Average Sunday Attendance, 2006-2007

Biggest Losers (domestic dioceses only)

Spokane -19%
Northern Michigan -14%
Kansas -13%
Northwest Texas -12%
Quincy -12%
Central New York -10%
Western New York -10%
Lexington -10%
Springfield -10%
Colorado -10%
Georgia -9%
Northern Indiana -9%
Montana -9%
Idaho -9%
Olympia -9%

Not one domestic diocese saw an increase in ASA.

Dioceses with a 0% - 2% loss:

Rhode Island
Southwestern Virginia
Central Florida
South Carolina
Southeast Florida
West Tennessee
North Dakota
South Dakota

TEC as a whole lost 5% ASA from 2006-2007, a total of 36,979 worshipers. That is more than the total ASA of all of Province 6, which includes Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Average Sunday Attendance since the year of Gene Robinson’s Consecration

Biggest Losers (domestic dioceses only)

Florida -29%
Kansas -26%
Northwest Texas -25%
Eastern Michigan -22%
Springfield -22%
Rio Grande -21%
Virginia -21%
Western New York -20%
El Camino Real -19%
Quincy -19%
Oklahoma -18%
San Diego -18%

Not a single domestic diocese saw an increase in ASA between 2003 and 2007.

All of TEC -12%

Here’s something crazy to ponder: Virginia, home of the eleven much-publicized departing parishes, lost 21% of its ASA between 2003 and 2007, and still is only 7th on the list.

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I think this is absolutely tragic, in that some of these folks will leave church and NEVER RETURN.  However, it’s because their “spider sense (aka Holy Spirit)” is tingling and they recognize that the truth is not being taught and they are not being “filled”.

[1] Posted by B. Hunter on 12-02-2008 at 05:21 PM • top

Never forget that the typical TEC activist in leadership doesn’t care about ASA.  He cares about the monochromatic ideological purity of the inclusive progressive church.  He sees a drop in ASA as confirmation of the enlightened nature of their message.  In his view, this message is driving out the dross in TEC, and leaving only precious metals.  Mark Harris has said it - being a ‘prophetic’ church will mean accepting the reality of being a much smaller church since many will leave in response to this message. 

Liberals do not fret over ASA ... so long as they have a comfortable and reasonably stable sinecure in TEC somewhere.  If they happen to be functionaries in flyover country, or employees of the national cathedral, then they might be worried.  Lots of liberal clergy should be looking at acquiring alternative skills as well. But the leadership that sits atop those endowments doesn’t care.  They will be long since dead before the money runs out. 

In the meantime, they will view the ASA statistics will faux-sadness.  They will count themselves couragous as they continue to be prophetic despite the consequences.  They will congratulate themselves on speaking truth to power at great personal cost.  And then they will retire to Florida, with full pensions, and morning tumblers of whiskey neat.


[2] Posted by carl on 12-02-2008 at 06:13 PM • top

Carl, and then what happens to them?

[3] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 12-02-2008 at 06:42 PM • top


Carl, and then what happens to them?

That’s not for me to say.  But you know all about those whiskey-drinkers.  Why, a more infamous collection of diabolical ne’re-do-wells has never been assembled in the history of man. 

carl wink

[4] Posted by carl on 12-02-2008 at 06:58 PM • top

Is it border crossing to open a church within the borders of a TEC diocese if there are no people left in the TEC diocese?  You cannot sustain a 10%/year loss for very long.  Or a 14% loss either, as we are seeing here in N. Michigan.  At the current rate, the only people who would be left in the local parish in 5-6 years would be the volunteer clergy.

[5] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-02-2008 at 07:11 PM • top

TJ, I have read with interest and sorrow your posts about the diocese in which you live. What is your impression of the people who do come to church? Do they seem enthusiastic for the sort of indifferent attitude toward Christianity that the diocese has?

[6] Posted by oscewicee on 12-02-2008 at 07:22 PM • top

At the current rate, the only people who would be left in the local parish in 5-6 years would be the volunteer clergy.

...armed with half a million TEC bucks, suing everybody who left.

[7] Posted by Greg Griffith on 12-02-2008 at 08:05 PM • top

I predict 2009 will show a larger decrease in ASA for Dallas as orthodox folk in so called moderate or conservative parishes head west to Ft. Worth.

[8] Posted by Jill C. on 12-02-2008 at 08:23 PM • top

You are correct. After the departures of Pittsburg, Quincy, and Ft. Worth, and al the dust that will settle, TEc’s ASA will shrink even more! But hey….their good news is they are making money! I’m still trying to understand that!

[9] Posted by TLDillon on 12-02-2008 at 08:49 PM • top

Prophet M and Carl
Eventually they will die and have to meet their Maker.  Methinks that unless there has been some very serious repentance it won’t be pretty.

[10] Posted by terrafirma on 12-02-2008 at 09:09 PM • top

Are you kidding? I am a very infrequent poster, but I have enjoyed Carls posts immensely.

Carl, if we dont meet in this life, it will be a treat chatting with you in the next.

[11] Posted by GSP98 on 12-02-2008 at 09:18 PM • top

I don’t think TEC will be suing anyone here.  The decline here is due in large measure to a very high average age (at least among the ASA) and while I don’t have statistics, observation would indicate more funerals than baptisms.  Also lots of people retiring to Florida and Texas.  As for people leaving for other churches, I think the number 1 is RC, and if KJS wants to sue the Pope, well…. the man has a chapel ceiling that is worth as much as Trinity Wall Street.  He could match TEC’s legal budget by selling one of the lesser Titian’s in the Vatican basement.  And I don’t think he’s worried about being deposed for abandoning the communion of TEC.

[12] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-02-2008 at 09:18 PM • top

Oscewicee (6)-
I hear there are some gung-ho progressives in a couple of the parishes in the central part of the diocese (although these parishes are also suffering declines numerically).  I think what happened is the loss of critical mass. 
  Although I strongly disagree with the “non-seminary” model here, I do have respect for many of these volunteer clergy.  As the diocese declined, they were given the choice of closing the churches, or taking on the responsibility without pay (or with the little they make from weddings, funerals and the like).  And in almost every parish, people responded, and invest enormous time and energy only for the love of Christ or love of the church (which are not always, unfortunately, the same thing).
  I think what keeps the churches open is more sentiment than faith in many cases- people want to stay in the church they grew up in.  The average folks in the pews are not unlike many other places.  Many don’t really grasp what is happening in the church, many don’t want to grasp it.  Theological education is non-existent- as might be predicted for churches with non-seminary clergy- the priests often do not know the answers to rather simple doctrinal or historical questions. (I had one clergyperson here actually tell me that the orthodox had nothing to worry about in this diocese, she was certain that now that the PB was involved, the diocese would be brought back to traditional doctrine.  No, really, I kid you not)
  But even with the lack of in-depth knowledge, many people know there is something wrong with the drivel (ie: the “affirmations”, “we are each an only begotten child of God”, “we are living incarnations of the Trinity”) that the diocese spews out in its newsletter.  Unfortunately, there is not one single clergyperson I am aware of within the diocese willing to openly challenge this. 
  There are vibrant churches in this area- several RC parishes within the bounds of the TEC parish, for example, each with several times its attendance- active Lutheran and Baptist congregations as well.  The Presbyterians remodeled and expanded their church across the street from the TEC church in town.  I suspect that as time goes on, more of the TEC stalwarts will be going to church with their neighbors and friends in other denominations.
  There is not much point to realigning a parish that cannot pay its heating bill (I don’t think anyone would back the idea anyway).  It would make more sense to put a half dozen in a minivan on Sunday morning and go north of the border (the diocese of Algoma, in Ontario, directly north, still has several orthodox parishes- at least orthodox compared to anything you will find in this part of Michigan).

[13] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-02-2008 at 10:06 PM • top

A chart of Province totals show them all peaking in ‘01 or being near ‘97 totals. Lines drawn from ‘01 to ‘07 in every Province shows a consistent decline in each one through the period.

-From ‘02-‘03, the average decline was -3.0% (with New England being the worst at -4.5%!!!)
-From ‘03-‘04, the average decline was -3.4%
-From ‘04-‘07, the average decline was -3.0% per year

The net(!) loss—with new people coming in each year—over the five years from ‘02-‘07 was -467 each week (equal to a quite large parish walking away each week).

[14] Posted by Bull Street on 12-02-2008 at 10:36 PM • top

In 2001, the Rev. Charles Fulton, the evangelism officer for TEC, wrote an article in which he mentioned that the average age of an Episcopalian was 57 years of age.

Specifically, he said:

The average age of a person in the United States is estimated to be 34.6 years old. The average age of an Episcopalian is estimated to be 57 years old. In twenty years many of the “average Episcopalians” won’t be around to know if “2020, A Clear Vision” succeeded. The gap between 34.6 and 57 is often our own children. A big part of the real high-risk challenge is to reach out and negotiate how we worship with other generations who aren’t going to grow up to be like us.

If the average life expectancy is just over 77 years, then the average Episcopalian living at the time Fr. Fulton wrote his article will be dead 20 years later.  In other words, roughly 50% of the members of the Episcopal Church will die in that 20 year period; and, to the extent that TEC has not replaced these members through evangelism and retention of its own children, TEC will decline by that same percentage. 

Given that families of childbearing age are only a portion of TEC’s membership, and that those families that do have children have a birthrate of 1.3 children per couple, even if TEC succeeded in retaining 100% of its own children, it would still decline substantially.  Coupled with the lack of evangelism among Episcopal congregations, one is left with looking at a patient who is quickly becoming terminal.

The latest set of statistics from TEC merely illustrate this demographic decline.  It is not so much that the numbers reflect an exodus from the Episcopal Church (although that is the case where individuals and congregations have, in fact, left), the numbers primarily reflect the inability of TEC to replace its members who are dying by retaining its own future generations and evangelizing the unchurched so that they become members.

Thus, the decline is greatest in the North and Midwestern US, where younger generations have moved away.  It is not the case, for instance, that Episcopalians left TEC in Springfield or Quincy (to cite two dioceses with which I am most familiar), the children of Episcopalians in Springfield or Quincy either did not remain Episcopalians or else moved away, and the congregations were not capable of evangelizing to the extent necessary to reverse the demographic decline as the older remaining members have died.  “2020, A Clear Vision” was intended to promote strategies what would result in growth.  But (in a nutshell) the whole program was diverted from evangelism to “inclusion” and the result is becoming obvious.

Given the trajectory away from a theology that believes that all people need to be converted to faith in Christ, and the lack of a compelling message that will retain young people, it is difficult to see the trend toward decline being reversed.

<dir>But you and I, we’ve been through all that,
and this is not our fate.
So let us not talk falsely now,
the hour is getting late.
  ~~ Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower</dir>
(Just thought I’d toss in a fitting Dylan quote to make Baby Blue happy.)

[15] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 12-03-2008 at 02:29 AM • top

Numbers have a voice. The decline is more than ten times the death rate. It must be something the priests and bishops said to cause such a decline. It is extremely hard to win back souls so carelessly lost to TEC.

[16] Posted by ctowles on 12-03-2008 at 10:45 AM • top

“The gap between 34.6 and 57 is often our own children. A big part of the real high-risk challenge is to reach out and negotiate how we worship with other generations who aren’t going to grow up to be like us.”

Maybe, if you stopped aborting them…

[17] Posted by The Pilgrim on 12-03-2008 at 11:17 AM • top

You made my day with your musical quote (though I confess to preferring the Hendrix version..)

[18] Posted by Fidela on 12-03-2008 at 11:41 AM • top

While we did experience financial woes from hurricanes in the central gulf coast, that was five years ago. Those must have been some strong winds. We keep telling ourselves, “It had to be the hurricanes”. After all, what else could have blown parishioners out of their pews and into other denominations.

[19] Posted by Laytone on 12-05-2008 at 12:11 PM • top

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