When Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori talks about the ongoing schism in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, she often downplays it’s size and significance.
“A handful of our church leaders are still upset” she told a Vermont audience in Sep. 2007.
A “handful of primates” oppose the Episcopal Church’s positions on homosexuality, she told the New York Times in Feb. 2007.
Only “a handful of congregations” are leaving the Episcopal Church, she told the Associated Press in Dec. 2006.
Other than “a handful of bishops” and “some clergy” and “a handful of primates”, there’s little opposition to her denomination’s left-ward march, Jefferts Schori told the Boston Globe in April 2007.
The naysayers are a “handful of archbishops”, she told a Florida audience in April 2008.
So, how much is a handful? There are a few clues in Episcopal Fast Facts 2007, which were recently posted on the denomination’s website.
According to statisticians, the Episcopal Church lost 9 percent of its active members between 2002 and 2007. The decline in attendance is even higher. During the past five years, average Sunday attendance fell 14 percent.
In 2002, membership stood at 2,320,221. It’s now 2,116,749, a drop of 203,472. Five years ago, Sunday attendance averaged 846,640. It now stands at 727,822, a drop of 118,818.
The ‘handful’ of people who have left the Episcopal Church since 2002 = one out of every seven churchgoers.