Skip to comments.Piske Death Watch
Posted on 06/15/2005 5:45:48 PM PDT by sionnsar
Everything's just fine in the Episcopal Church. Great. Jim Dandy. The cat's pajamas. Couldn't be better:
It appears likely that the Episcopal Church will experience its third straight year of declining average Sunday attendance (ASA), according to the Rev. Charles Fulton, director of the Episcopal Church Foundation.
Fr. Fulton told members of the national Executive Council that even though the Episcopal Church Center had parochial report data for only 73 percent of parishes prior to the start of the June 13-16 meeting in Louisville, it was important to release the information as soon as possible, because time is the enemy of institutions in systemic decline.
"Systemic decline," huh? How bad are things?
The estimated ASA loss for 2004 is 3.2 percent, or 19,268 fewer people attending each week among the 5,222 churches reporting to date. This is compared to a loss of 2.8 percent among all churches in 2003 and a decline of 1.4 percent in 2002. ASA had been on the rise until 2002. All domestic provinces declined in membership and attendance in 2003. In all but one province the 2003 change represented a worsening of the 2002 loss. Only two diocesesSouth Carolina and Tennesseeexperienced ASA increases in both 2002 and 2003.
But ECUSA's systemic decline has nothing to do with the Fact On The Ground, mind you.
The decline, according to Fr. Fulton, does not appear to be primarily linked to fallout from the 2003 General Convention, but rather a society that is increasingly distancing itself from institutional religion. Many other denominations are experiencing similar declines in membership and attendance, he said.
The irony is that we began to decline just as we began to talk about doubling, Fr. Fulton said. We are experiencing systemic, rather than traumatic, decline. I dont think anyone would deny that General Convention had an effect on numbers, but to tell the truth I wish the decline was related to a specific event. Systemic decline is much more complicated to reverse.
Fulton has a good point. Gene Robinson was only a symptom; ECUSA was bleeding members long before 2003 and, given the drift of Episcopal "theology" over the last 40 years, Robbie was probably inevitable. But what should the Excessively Clueless of the United States of America do to turn things around? You get three guesses but you're only going to need one.
No program is going to turn this decline around, said Lallie Lloyd, a parishioner at St. Annes Church, Lincoln, Mass., and a member of both the 20/20 Task Force and the Standing Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism. In a follow-up presentation on the 20/20 church growth movement, Ms. Lloyd said growth will happen as the Episcopal Church increasingly makes mission its top priority.
Mission means translating the gospel into the peoples vernacular, she said. We need to take our message into the culture and language our young people speak. This happened before when the Bible was translated into English and it happened again when it was brought by missionaries to native cultures.
In other words, suck up to the culture even more. Don't get all up in their faces about sex outside of marriage and all that other fundie stuff. The kids want to do it and the kids are going to do it so change ECUSA "theology." Then put a hip-hop mass in the next Prayer Book and some Tupac in the next Hymnal. Yeah, that should pack 'em in.
A "church" which stands for everything stands for nothing.
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