Monday, October 01, 2007

Episcopal Church Membership, 2005-2006

Titus One Nine has posted a link to the just-released figures on church membership

I thought I would post the several comments that I made on that site. (I added four additional non-ACN dioceses on Monday.)

A look at the ACN dioceses is instructive (even allowing for the fact that the graphs are hard to read). The only diocese that can feel a degree of satisfaction in fulfilling the Great Commission is that of South Carolina.

Financial giving is up everywhere except in Dallas (a marked drop since 2005).

Baptized membership is down everywhere except in Fort Worth and Springfield (an increase on 2005) and South Carolina (consistently up since 1997). Quincy fell from 2,800 in 2002 to 2,000 in 2006.

Worshipping attendance is steady in Central Florida, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and South Carolina, down in Albany (since 2002), Quincy (since 2004), Rio Grande (since 2002), San Joaquin (since 2003), and Springfield (since 2002). Dallas reported a marked decline since 2005 (presumably the effect of the departure of Christ Church, Plano).

In some areas, of course, the general population trend is down, but we still need to be thinking in terms of what makes South Carolina (and perhaps some of the missionary parishes already out there) work, if we’re going to be successful in the post-realignment phase.

Percentage Change in Baptized Membership, 1996-2006 (Approximate Change in Number in Parentheses)

ACN Dioceses

Quincy -33% (-1,000)
Albany -20% (-5,000)
Springfield -17% (-1,000)
Pittsburgh -14% (-3,000)
Central Florida -5% (-2,000)

Dallas No change (grew during the 1990s, then fell back)
San Joaquin No change (grew during the 1990s, then fell back)
Fort Worth +5% (+1,000)
Rio Grande +7% (+1,000)
South Carolina +18% (+6,000)

Selected Non-ACN Dioceses

Pennsylvania -17% (-10,000)
Newark -17% (-6,000)
New Hampshire -17% (-3,000)
Connecticut -15% (-12,000)

Florida -12% (-4,000)
Los Angeles -10% (-7,000)
Southern Ohio -8% (-2,000)
Virginia -4% (-3,000)

Upper South Carolina No change
Nevada +7% (+400)

There appears to have been a decline in Nevada between 2005 and 2006, for whatever reason. One further point to note about the above figures. The distinction between loss and gain seems largely to be one of Rustbelt decline and Sunbelt growth. Two ACN dioceses stand out from this trend, however. Albany’s numerical loss is high and its percentage loss is higher than for Pennsylvania or Newark. Central Florida bucks the Sunbelt trend and posts a loss (perhaps what is happening next door is having a ricochet effect).

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