Episcopal religion writer David Virtue reports the following national denominational statistics for 2003 – which are very likely to be even worse when the 2004 reports are in next December. He reports:
Attendance statistics for the Episcopal Church USA in 2003 reveal a church in continued steep decline with nearly 36,000 active baptized members leaving for greener theological pastures, a significant drop from 8,000 on 2002. Another 24,000 Sunday worshippers left the ECUSA last year, more than twice the previous year.
In 2002, the church claimed a membership of 2,320,221. In 2003, it was down to 2,284,233, the church officially declared.
If this walkout of 36,000 – while evangelical denominations continue to grow – seems grim, the next statistic is horrendous: Some 85 parishes closed their doors – 7,395 in 2002 to 7,220 in 2003.
How much effort and financial sacrifice in building and maintaining all those parishes is now lost?
That is more than twice the number of parishes that exist in the Diocese of New Hampshire, the majority of whose clergy and laity elected Vicky Gene without any apparent concern about what so many of their fellow Episcopalians regard as a biblical abomination.
- Average Sunday attendance in 2002 was 846,640. In 2003 it was 823,017.
- The percentage of churches with any increase in average Sunday attendance also dropped from 39 percent to 34 percent.
- The most startling figure was that the median average Sunday worship attendance of all Episcopal churches across the whole country is 77 members (down from 79).
Despite all this, Bishop Robinson was a special guest on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” which program was fair enough to allow one of Robinson’s fellow bishops, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, to appear with him.
Bishop Duncan told the nationwide broadcast:
The purported statistics do not bear out vs. Gene Robinson’s view that the acceptance of homosexuality would make churches grow.
In a question from Terry Gross, who asked whether gays and lesbians coming into the church were counterbalancing folks who were leaving, Duncan responded saying: “The latest statistics show we lost 36,000 members last year, three times what we lost the year before.”