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Episcopal News Service ^ | June 20, 2006 | Carol E. Barnwell

Posted on 06/21/2006 4:01:03 PM PDT by fgoodwin

From Columbus: Growth measures seek to build membership

Episcopal News Service
By: Carol E. Barnwell
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Personal evangelism, campus ministry and church plants form the cornerstone of the General Convention's effort to achieve the goals of the 2020 initiative.

The Convention passed a resolution proposed by Bishop David Jones of Virginia, chair of the Evangelism Committee, to study the Joint Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism's concern that the Episcopal Church "may be in systemic decline." The resolution charges the Standing Commission on Domestic Mission and Evangelism with initiating "a national consultation on methods and strategies identify best practices to reverse the decline in mainline denominations," and making recommendations to the 76th General Convention on ways to reverse that decline in all denominations.

The 2.4 million member Episcopal Church lost 8,000 people in 2005 in average Sunday attendance (ASA), Kirk Hadaway, director of research, Congregational Development for the Episcopal Church Center, reported to the Evangelism Committee. Hadaway called the decline "systemic," attributing it to more than one factor. A 2005 projected loss of 40,000 members (not ASA) he said, is due to the aging of congregations and a decline in new members. Previous to 2002, 15 dioceses were in decline. Within the last triennium that number has climbed to 80, he said.

The Episcopal Church is a social system where 90 percent of membership is white and a large percentage is above childbearing years. According to Ted Mollegen, committee member from Connecticut, 27 percent of Church membership is of age 65, compared to 22 percent of the U.S. population.

Church planting

Future growth in the Episcopal Church depends on evangelism efforts to a diverse population of unchurched people, including Asians and Hispanics. Further testimony at committee hearings identified campus ministry as an important base for church growth.

The Rev. Victoria Hurd, a church planting expert from the Diocese of Virginia, told the committee "Church planting is strategic planning for the Gospel."

"While there was a drop in membership, it would have been much worse without the new church plants," she said, which accounted for more than 4,000 average Sunday attendants.

She said that new church members are young; more interested in getting mission teams to needy places than in arguing about issues. Hurd advocated for teaching church planting in seminaries and placing seminarians into new church plants as interns. Diversity is also critical. "We need to plant Hispanic congregations or we will not reflect the face of the country in 2025," she added.

College ministry

Young adults spoke passionately regarding their place in the church. College is a time of transition when people relocate, and need counsel and guidance to make life-changing decisions. Campus ministry allows a leadership opportunity that doesn't exist elsewhere, said the Rev. Mary Hileman. A campus missioner at Oklahoma State University and a member of the Evangelism Committee, Hileman also supports campus ministries becoming diocesan missions where possible.

Reynolds Wayland, an alternate for the Diocese of Missouri, had to join a church near his campus ministry at Washington University in St Louis, in order to stand for election as a deputy. Active in diocesan affairs, Wayland said, "The work of God moves in me. Students are interested in the wider church, we want to be involved … I would like to be a voice for my church home."

The Rev. Lee Anne Watkins, a member of the Evangelism Committee from Minnesota, said, "We need to recognize campus ministries as more than outreach programs. This is a mature mission." Part of the 2020 vision, she said, is a vision to have ministry on every campus.

In an interview, Hileman emphasized the importance of campus ministry as a place of leadership development for the Church, as well as a vital mission field. She highlighted the need to use technology in reaching out, as well. She baptized a student after he had checked out the campus ministry online, looked up the Episcopal Church in the Internet and read the Book of Common Prayer online. He asked Hileman how to become a member of the church. "His encounters on the Web and his welcome at the front door gave him the courage to ask to be baptized, and he was - the next day!" Hileman said.

When Hileman did a wedding for former students some time ago, one of the bridesmaids asked if she could come by for a visit. The young woman eventually brought her roommate and they brought their boyfriends and someone else's roommate. "It started with an invitation and branches out," she said. "Then they need a place to go that will be welcoming."

Campus ministries are real congregations with unique character to that particular place," Hileman said. "Young adults make choices about [denomination membership] by the time they are 25 years old," she added, saying that growing the church in the future depends on attracting college-aged members and giving them an active role in the church.


Sarah Lawton is 40 but she started working on the 2020 initiative in her early 30s. As a member of the Evangelism Committee from California, she believes that the initiative has "become part of the DNA" of the mission focus in the Church today. "We can't make icons of programs," she said in an interview.

While the 2020 nomenclature may be missing, Lawton said, "Who owns it, who defines it doesn't matter--it is the mission of Christ. There is no need to label it. We must respond to the spirit, the mission of revitalization. It's about a vision for the future."

The Rev. Charles N. Fulton, III, director of congregational development at the Episcopal Church Center, said a desire to grow does not necessarily lead to growth. "The willingness to change and adapt and involvement in social justice leads to growth." He said he doesn't believe the 2020 movement has gone very far, because although it "was a powerful vision, we tried to put it in an old purpose." His prescription for growth is a four-fold frame that includes purpose, vision, faith and values: "Why are we, what are we going to do, what do we believe and how are we going to behave."

"We have to start with Jesus," Fulton said. In a culture where nearly 80 percent of the population does not actively practice any faith, it is possible for the Episcopal Church expand its outreach and evangelism. When the United States was a Christian culture and most people attended church, the goal of the Episcopal Church was to reach two percent of the population. "Our primary evangelism was to take Christians and teach them about the Book of Common Prayer and the church year."

Fulton believes church growth hinges in the ability of people to share their faith story with others. "We have to find a way to communicate the God in our lives, the God who has been with us all along," he said.

Everyone's ministry

"Our genius is intellectually engaged, centrist and comprehensive," said the Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, a member of the Standing Commission on Communication and a deputy from the Diocese of Bethlehem. "We must give back our gifts to those around us," according to Knisley, who also says he won the genetic lottery as a white male, Anglo Saxon, protestant with ivy league education. "I found Jesus Christ in an ex heroin addict who was trying to get off stuff so she could keep her kids. My church adopted her, and in doing that work she showed me Jesus and I saw Jesus in the people around her," he said, noting that our work is in the culture.

In order to grow, Knisely suggests a short list for each person in the pew:

* Invite our neighbors to church * Pray that our church will grow * Learn what we believe and be able to articulate it * Know why we are Episcopalians and know their own faith story * Pray our church will grow and * Serve Jesus in our every moment

"People see that beacon, and will follow them to church. That's missionary," Knisley said.


Resolution A037 is specifically directed at the 2020 goals and calls on each bishop to cast a vision for his or her diocese; calls on all orders of ministry to speak about what God is doing in their lives; invite others to worship, and seeks to identify and develop practical resources for personal and congregational evangelism through the Church Center staff. More importantly, it is to be published in all congregational and diocesan media. The resolution is pending in the House of Bishops.

A church planting initiative now pending in the House of Deputies (A042) includes provisions for a major gifts campaign, which would be the first since "Venture in Mission" 25 years ago. Another resolution, A043, encourages dioceses to identify "priority opportunities and estimate costs" for new congregations to fulfill 2020 goals. A043 includes a feasibility study for a capital funds drive to help build these new churches. It is also pending in the House of Deputies.

Resolution B011 partners the Episcopal Church, Episcopal Relief and Development and the Church Pension Group with the Diocese of Louisiana to develop a missionary initiative to support evangelism and 2020 goals, and as a model for areas of natural disaster or impoverished areas.

-- Carol E. Barnwell is the communication director in the Diocese of Texas and a member of the ENS Convention news team.

TOPICS: Current Events; Evangelical Christian; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology
KEYWORDS: conservatives; ecusa; episcopalchurch; evangelicals; evangelism; liberals; mainlineprotestants; religiousright
Does anyone in the Episcopal Church know what "evangelism" means??
1 posted on 06/21/2006 4:01:06 PM PDT by fgoodwin
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To: fgoodwin
Does anyone in the Episcopal Church know what "evangelism" means??

I could make a nasty comment -- but won't. There are faithful there still, such as the Diocese of San Joaquin.

2 posted on 06/21/2006 5:45:36 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: ahadams2; Houston_Texans; impatient; weps4ret; kellynch; Crackhead Willie; meandog; gogeo; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
More Anglican articles here.

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

3 posted on 06/21/2006 5:46:12 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: fgoodwin

"This was the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and hemlocks......"
4 posted on 06/21/2006 5:47:48 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: sionnsar

Leadership of the Episcopal Church has turned it into Church of the Apostasy. Such is the usher for the spirit of antichrist ... but the dead-souled people running the Episcopal Church wouldn't comprehend such a notion even if Jesus Himself spoke to them to correct them. They are far to important in their own eyes to be corrected by something as old as The Bible.

5 posted on 06/21/2006 5:57:34 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: fgoodwin

"evangelism"-To riddle the nation with queer bishops.

6 posted on 06/21/2006 6:00:03 PM PDT by managusta (corruptissima republica plurimae leges)
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To: fgoodwin; All

I've heard all this tripe before. ECUSA must be "inclusive", "relevant", and be aggressive in "outreach". Meanwhile, it's a dying secular-humanist institution that has severed all connections to orthodox Christianity.

Ironically, the post inadvertently reveals the problem: women: who according to two millenia of catholic tradition, can NOT be "ordained" to Holy Orders. Many people think that the "consecration" of the gay and divorced Gene Robinson is the cause of ECUSA's rapid decline. NO! In fact, the decline escalated dramatically in 1976 with the invalid and non-canonical "ordination" of those females. To be sure, the Robinson debacle made headlines because of its sensational and notorious nature.

But, in reality, ECUSA's decline began decades ago. In 1969 ECUSA had 3.5 million active communicants. Now it has 2.4 million and declining daily and precipitously. So - in terms of absolute numbers and relative to population growth ECUSA is a dying, apostate church.

There are a multitude of other problems - hard left politics, to cite only one - but ECUSA is no longer a serious and viable player in American religion.

I can't elaborate on it now but if any would like some first-hand, INSIDE experience with ECUSA, contact me via private post.

7 posted on 06/21/2006 8:27:44 PM PDT by T.L.Sink (stopew)
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To: fgoodwin

"The 2.4 million member Episcopal Church..."

PROVE IT! In 2003, I searched for independent sources that would confirm this number. That was 3 years & another computer ago, so I no longer have the sources to cite, but I do remember that I found several sources that pegged the membership in 2003 anywhere from a low of 950,000 to a high of 1.6 million. Knowing that the reputation of the Barna research group was widely respected, I checked to see what their data was. I found out that the ECUSA was one of the few denominations that did not regularly report its numbers for independent review. However, coincidental to that time, George Barna was interviewed & asked to give some background data on the ECUSA to supplement the story on the consecration of V. Gene Robinson. As I recall, Barna suggested that the estimated membership of the ECUSA was approx. 1.3 million, but that only 650,000 attended church "regularly," which was defined as "at least monthly." I wondered at the time how such a discrepancy could be accounted for.

In the months that followed, I was working to contact the members of two nearby ECUSA parishes to announce the start-up of a new Anglican Church in the area & to extend a personal invitation to visit. I was working from the CURRENT directories of both parishes & found that nearly 1/2 of the members listed were: a) dead; b) moved away; c) attending other non-ECUSA churches; AND most were not recent departures. I remember one, in particular, was a woman who'd been dead over 4 years! A number of the folks who were attending other churches actually told me that they had notified their old parish that they were leaving & had asked that their names be removed from the membership roster & mailing list. Most were surprised to learn that they were still listed as members.

Shortly after that, I remember reading a couple of Freeper's postings saying that they had left ECUSA in the wake of Robinson's election & had made NUMEROUS unsucessful requests that their names be stricken from the membership at their former parishes. Whether they ever were, I don't know. I had a similar experience. Having formally withdrawn my membership in July 2003, my old parish continued to carry my name in the 2004 roster & I continued to receive the Diocesan newsletter until sometime in 2005.

Based on my research & experience, ECUSA is grossly overstating its membership at 2.4 million. It's just a guess, but I'd say a more accurate number may be about 1/2 that (1.2 million) & probably no more than 2/3 attend church regularly. If that's accurate, then the ECUSA is really nothing more than a wart on the behind of the 77 million strong Anglican Communion - & a classic example of the tail trying to wag the dog.

As witty fellow puts it: the ECUSA is like the mouse with an erection, floating down the river on his back & hollaring "RAISE THE BRIDGE!"

8 posted on 06/22/2006 12:35:06 AM PDT by torqemada ("Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!")
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To: torqemada
Shortly after that, I remember reading a couple of Freeper's postings saying that they had left ECUSA in the wake of Robinson's election & had made NUMEROUS unsucessful requests that their names be stricken from the membership at their former parishes. Whether they ever were, I don't know. I had a similar experience. Having formally withdrawn my membership in July 2003, my old parish continued to carry my name in the 2004 roster & I continued to receive the Diocesan newsletter until sometime in 2005.

One of those FReepers was me! And I am STILL getting the ECUSA diocesan newsletter.

9 posted on 06/22/2006 6:33:12 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: torqemada

Our family's expereince supports this. My husband called our parish to tell them we no longer wanted to be Episcopalians, and to please remove our names from their membership rolls. They refused, telling him that the only way they would do that would be for us to officially transfer to another Episcopal Church. We were not transferring, however. We were quitting! Since then, a new parish directory has been issued. Our names are still there (they did take out our pictures, however).

Also, delegate strength to the diocesan conventions is determined by the size of the parish. This is why parishes are tempted to 'fudge' their numbers. This is one of the ways in which the current faction running TEC has gained control.

10 posted on 06/22/2006 9:09:51 AM PDT by Cookie123
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To: sionnsar


The point of my question is this: the article uses the word "evangelism" several times (mostly in reference to the committee), but nowhere does it say anything about Episcopalians actually going out to DO evangelism!

My experience as an Episcopal convert (from a Southern Baptist in 1998) is that the typical Episcopalian would rather eat glass than talk to his or neighbor about the Good News of Jesus Christ.

It just isn't done!

11 posted on 06/22/2006 8:23:49 PM PDT by fgoodwin
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To: fgoodwin
I'm quite aware of the situation you note. If you look at the page in my tagline you'll even find the following entry, somewhat highlighted:

"How to Share Your Faith Without Losing Your Friends" (Evangelism for Anglicans course, Word97 document)

There is a group within TEC who appear to be somewhat involved in a form of evangelism, but it's not to Christianity.

12 posted on 06/23/2006 7:36:25 AM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: sionnsar

Thanx for the reminder -- I actually saved and read that file two years ago (June 10, 2004)!

13 posted on 06/23/2006 2:09:07 PM PDT by fgoodwin
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