Top-notch Episcopal Church statistician Kirk Hadaway gave a presentation to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other church leaders — and the numbers don’t look good.
After the ordination of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, the Episcopal Church lost roughlyone-tenth of its members. Roughly One-seventh of its weekly churchgoers stopped attending.
Is there a big correlation between Robinson’s ordination and the plummeting membership and attendance figures? The presiding bishop doesn’t seem to think so, if this Episcopal News Service article is any indication.
“Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said after Hadaway’s report that she was struck that the most recent trend of declining membership began in 2000 and 2001, ‘long before the actions of General Convention 2003, which is often the spin that is out there.’ That meeting of convention consented to the ordination and consecration of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion. That decision caused intense debate across the church and the fracturing of some congregations and dioceses.”
But here’s what the church’s own statistics show:
Membership decline from 1998 through 2002 = 1%
Membership decline from 1998 through 2008 = 12%
The pattern is even more striking for church attendance.
Church attendance from 1998 through 2002 actually increased by 0.5% But average Sunday attendance between 1998 and 2008 decreased 16 percent.