Episcopal Church of the United States
One of the key issues facing the Episcopal Church in the US, the Diocese of California AND St. Timothy’s is the persistent decline in the membership of the mainline Protestant religions. There are many reasons for this 40 year trend including:
- Aging population and changing demographics as we see anew in the 2010 Census
- Stronger evangelism, marketing and attractiveness of evangelical churches to the unchurched
- Conflicts in the church over social issues
- Changes in family structures and lifestyles that do not reinforce going to church.
- Competing demands on our time pushing church to a lower priority in busy lives.
Writing in WORLD, Timothy Dalrymple distills the headlines from the 2011 edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, published by the National Council of Churches to summarize publicly available data on 227 churches across North America. The Yearbook has been regard as the principal way to track the changing fortunes of organized religion including membership for at least the last forty years.
Here are the Winners and Losers:
SOURCE: National Council of Churches
|Seventh Day Adventists
|The Mormon Church of Ladder Day Saints
|Roman Catholic Church
|Assemblies of God
|Southern Baptist Convention
|United Methodist Church
|Lutheran Church (ELCA)
|Episcopal Church of the US
|Presbyterian Church (USA)
|United Church of Christ
The largest Christian Congregations in the US from 2010 Yearbook are:
- The Roman Catholic Church: 68.1 million, up 1.5 percent from 2009
- Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million, no significant change
- The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million, down 1 percent from 2009
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 5.9 million, up 1.7 percent from 2009
- The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no significant change
- National Baptist Convention: 5 million, no significant change
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.6 million, down 1.6 percent
- National Baptist Convention of America: 3.5 million, no significant change
- Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up 1.27 percent from 2009
- The Presbyterian Church; 2.8 million, down 3.28 percent from 2009
15. The Episcopal Church of the US: 2 million members, down 3% or 50,000 members from 2008 to 2009.
Want more information?
- Episcopal Church Research Services provides statistical information and reports on the Episcopal Church.
- Episcopal Congregations Overview is based on responses from 837 Episcopal parishes and missions that completed the 2010 Faith Communities Today Survey (76% response rate). The data were weighted by size and region to be representative of all Episcopal congregations. A more detailed report of findings will be published and posted on the Episcopal Church web site later in 2011.
- Compare Congregations Using Episcopal Research Service Online Data. For search committees preparing profiles this is a very useful tool for comparing congregations and gathering information easily from the parochial reports filed with the National church. This is your access point to the official parochial report database.
What about St. Timothy’s?
Below are three standardized reports I was able to pull from the ECRS database using the parochial report information for St. Timothy’s in Danville as examples of what is available:
For St. Timothy’s to Grow We Must Change the Trend Lines
So the 20/20 Vision strategies and the work of the Search Committee must take into account these changes in demographics and the implications of the trends in church membership and participation. The long slow decline of mainline Protestant religions is affecting the Episcopal Church materially and substantially.
Our 20/20 Vision goals to be a welcoming parish open to all and to live into the mission work of the church by doubling the parish pledge base and participation by the year 2020 are seriously challenged by these long term membership trends. To change the course of the church requires that St. Timothy’s and other congregations step up and take concerted action to reach out to the unchurched and underserved, collaborate with the Diocese on area ministry strategies and work with other congregations on mission and ministry programs to attract the faithful.
Unless we do so achieving the 20/20 Vision goals will be unrealistic.
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Image by Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Flickr
The Jews Did Not Do It!
That is the essential take away from a new book by Pope Benedict XVI parts of which were leaked to the press in Rome. In the book entitled Jesus of Nazareth-Part 2, the second in a series written by Pope Benedict scheduled to be published March 10, 2011, says that Benedict finds no biblical or theological basis in Scripture for blaming the Jewish people as a whole for Jesus’ death—and to prove it he takes the reader through a passage by passage journey to prove his point.
This isn’t really new news since the Roman Catholic Church has “taught” for more than half a century that it was not fair to collectively blame the Jewish people for the persecution of Jesus. But that sentiment was often used in anti-Semitic statements and actions targeting the Jews themselves.
The Second Vatican Council document “Nostra Aetate,” published in 1965 fundamentally altered the Roman Catholic Church teaching by pronouncing unambiguously that Christ’s death could not be attributed to Jews as a whole at the time or today.
The Pope’s new book reinforces the same conclusion as Nostra Aetate, but Benedict goes through a Gospel-by-Gospel analysis to make sure the faithful get the message that he “really means it.” Benedict says that the truth is that only a few Temple leaders and a small group of supporters were primarily responsible for Christ’s crucifixion, and whole Catholic Church owes the whole Jewish population a clean an unambiguous pronouncement that the Jews did not do it.
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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for the first time since the 1960’s, denied their sitting vice president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson the promotion to the top job and instead elected New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan as president. Press reports said Kicanas was seen as having a more “moderate style” than some more orthodox bishops.
Conflict and politics is no stranger to the Roman Catholic Church and the bishops in the American church conference have been debating how to address the decline in church membership and strategies to uphold the church’s teachings in the face of scandals over clergy abuse.
Archbishop Dolan won 54% to 46% on the third round of balloting at the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He replaces Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George as president. The Conference also elected Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky as vice president 62% to 38% over Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput.
The winning candidates seemed to position themselves as more outspoken in defending church teaching. While Dolan has not gone so far as to deny the sacrament to Catholic politicians who are seen as favoring abortion rights, he was thought to be a stricter defender of church orthodoxy in a style favored by many theological conservatives than Kicanas who urged Catholic voters to ban gay marriage and oppose abortion. Kicanas instead urged bishops and Catholic university presidents to start a discussion about their differences. But the bishops were having none of it.
Let’s face it, as Anglicans we have had our own share of conflict so we recognize the impact of these contentious decisions among our Roman friends. While our own views are considerably more “moderate” on many of the issues debated by the Catholic bishops they are still struggling to confront the central reality they face. Many of the Catholic faithful have not lost faith in Christ or in the Church but in their leaders who tolerated unspeakable acts of abuse of children in their midst and covered it up or ignored it while hypocritically preaching intolerance over same sex relationships and a woman’s right to control over her own body and other issues of conscience.
The bishops are going to have to do more than preach orthodoxy to restore that trust. And the faithful must redeem the church by holding those accountable to Caesar for violations of the law while they pray to God for healing, renewal and hope.
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Posted in 20/20 Vision Process, My Unbroken Chain of Faith, tagged Anglicanism, Apple Inc., Catholic Church, Christianity, Mobile phone, Religion and Spirituality, Saint Timothy, Steve Mason on October 23, 2010 |
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Steve Mason asked me to substitute for him at the St. Timothy’s table at the Danville Farmers market and this morning was my maiden voyage at that ministry. Steve has it organized so well that it was snap to set up. The crowd was light given the threat of rain, the Danville arts fair going on downtown a block over and last week was the end of fresh peaches so the market was full of flowers and green stuff to eat which while healthy will never compete with the seduction of fresh peaches.
I talked to many St. Timothy’s people including one ‘wise guy’ who asked me if I was in training for my next career as a Walmart greeter! He may not realize he is one step away from a cart with very squeaky wheels in his future—but I digress.
Steve’s coaching about what to expect was spot on. I had many people pass my table who did not make eye contact fearful, no doubt, I would try to convert them or something. By many did say good morning and a few thanked me for coming out on a rainy morning to be there—“it’s nice to see organic gardening of the faithful” one woman said smiling as she walked by.
I was asked by one woman what that metal tower was out front of the church? She was referring to our new bell tower. Oh nice, she replied ‘will you be doing bell concerts? Alas, the single bell from the old Anglican priory hardly a bell choir makes.
So is this a ministry that matters?
I came away from my three plus hours of mostly people watching concluding that indeed it does matter because it makes St. Timothy’s more visible to the community and for every 100 people who avoid eye contact and pass you by there is one who feels called in some way to connect with us—and that makes it all worthwhile.
Just like the woman who came up and pulled out her check book and wrote St. Timothy’s a five dollar check for being so bike friendly. She apparently uses our parking lot for her rides up and down Mt. Diablo. She said, she went to St Joan of Arc Catholic Church but if she were church shopping she would want a friendly place just like St. Timothy’s.
And little did she know that she had described our 20/20 Vision goal better than an army of marketers because it is who we are and how we feel called to welcome all who love God and seek Christ in their lives. Call it the Virginia Woy Effect, but it was gratifying to know that by living our core values and being true to what we believe God is calling us to be for the people of the San Ramon Valley that the message is being heard.
So thank you Steve for a Saturday morning well spent planting seeds of faith and harvesting Good News.
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