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The head of The Episcopal Church has stated that the declining numbers of her denomination could be the work of the Holy Spirit to create "greater fruitfulness."
TEC Presiding Bishop the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori made this statement last Thursday in remarks delivered at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh. "Some have judged our smaller numbers as faithlessness but it may actually be the Spirit's way of pruning for greater fruitfulness," said Jefferts Schori. . .
Between 2010 and 2011, ELCA membership went from about 4.2 million to just over 4 million, representing a loss of more than 212,000 members. During the same time period, The Episcopal Church had a decrease of over 28,000 members, causing the number of members in its domestic dioceses to dip below the 2 million mark.
The one consolation is that the Episcopalians seemed to have weathered the financial consequences of this storm more easily that the ELCA. But, nevermind, it is the cost of faithfulness, according to Bp Schori.
There has been the suggestion by some in Missouri that bleeding off some of the moderates (whom some call liberals) might not be a bad thing if fewer people translates into more unity. This has been scoffed at by those who complain that some are willing to choose between growth and faithfulness. Well, yes, if growth comes only from being unfaithful, what kind of growth is this. But I think this might be a first for a liberal denomination to suggest that bigness may be an impediment to the prophetic character of their mission for the social justice gospel. Ahhh... the cost of change... Some of us might be praying for God to prune a bit more among the liberal fringe of American Christianity. Prune away, God! And while you are at it, send those folks looking for faithfulness to us!