Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Well... the good news is. . .
Change in church school enrollment: -33%
Change in number of marriages performed: -41%
Change in number of burials/funerals: -21%
Change in the number of child baptisms: -36%
Change in the number of adult baptisms: -40%
Change in the number of confirmations: -32%
I guess you can take comfort in the fact that less people are either dying or being buried from TEC. Apart from that the picture is pretty sad. If you read this blog you know that I do not believe statistics should be the measure of our faithfulness or success but in this case I will grant that the numbers point to something being wrong -- terribly wrong -- in the good ship US Anglican. The problem cannot be completely identified with the stance on GLBT issues, either. Instead it represents the sad conclusion the the Episcopal Church has little left but the Prayer Book -- which people are glad to use but, it seems, do not take seriously for its content or confession.
In every case, form without substance and substance that eschews form are both destined for trouble. We seek not one or the other but substance of confession that is reflected in liturgy and practice consistent with that confession. Lutherans would do well to take note. There is little here to be glib about. Much of Lutheranism is headed down the same precipice. God, save us from ourselves!!
If you want to read all the news, click here and open the zip file for the full story.
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the Episcopal Church has little left but the Prayer Book
I would argue that they don't really even have the Prayer Book any more. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer is such a thorough-going revision that it is really a brand new book, with little continuity with the tradition of Anglican Prayer Books.
I say this as a cradle Episcopalian who liked and approved of the new Prayer Book when it was being considered and then adopted in the 1970s. (I left the Episcopal Church shortly thereafter, but the presenting issue for me was the ordination of women, not the liturgical changes.) Since then, however, on those rare occasions when I visit an Episcopal Church, I hear the 1979 Prayer Book with new ears. In view of all that has happened in the Episcopal Church (and mainline Protestantism generally) in the intervening years, I detect a different attitude and a different spirit in the language of the 1979 Book than I do in the language of the 1928 Book. There is a striking human-centered and this-worldly character to the 1979 book that was an important harbinger of what was to come in ECUSA.
There is no nice way to put it: TECUSA is apostate. Period.
TECUSA is apostate, and people are leaving it. The ELCA has altar and pulpit fellowship with TEC. What accounts for the recent slowdown in the number of churches voting to leave the ELCA?
You wrote: "The problem cannot be completely identified with the stance on GLBT issues, either."
Demographics have nothing to do with the theology of a church. Young Episcopalian couples are marrying later and are choosing to have half as many babies as their parents. The total number of all church members therefore shrinks in half. This trend is occurring in all Christian denominations. As a result, churches everywhere are competing to attract that shrinking 18-35 year old white suburban demographic.
I find it intriguing that homosexuals are not stampeding to become members of liberal churches, just as they are not racing to the gay marriage altar. Sure, some are. However, the low numbers are not enough to justify changing the theology of an entire denomination just to make 1% of the membership feel comfortable in their abomination.
What is the difference between a sin and an abomination. I have always seen homosexuality classified as an abomination in the Bible. Your thoughts?
The breakpoint came for me in 1988, when a 'pastoral letter' from the bishops was read from the pulpit, essentially telling me it was my Christian obligation to vote for Walter Mondale...
Episcopal Church was the first to promote birth control aka self annihilation. And whaddaya know, they are the first to self annihilate.
In 1976, TEC had the first illicit ordination of women. In 1979 it brought out the BCP 1979 which was a major departure from all previous Prayerbooks. Those who had been in charge of the revision later even bragged about how they had put one over on the entire Church by introducing major changes in the theology of the Church in that false volume. These two official actions, and the accompanying many unofficial individual actions regarding GLBT matters have caused countless numbers of once loyal members to drop out.
This has also given rise to the Continuing Anglican Church movement, a group of relatively small Churches that all use the BCP 1928 and follow traditional Anglicanism and do not ordain women. They are unfortunately divided by political differences among the leaders, but gradually they are beginning to coalesce.
Continuing Anglican Priest
I read that report and it seems that what is basically happening is that the ever fewer Episcopals that remain are simply moving to different areas and transferring membership to a different parish. The pattern mirrors migration patterns in the US. That isn't proof, of course, but I wonder if that is much of what is going on.
To bring a little levity to an extremely serious subject: Maybe the previous post applies to Episcopal death? They're being cremated and fired out of a 12 gauge?
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