The Episcopal Church saw a greater decline in members and average worship attendance in 2018 than in 2017.
According to statistics recently made available by the Office of the General Convention, The Episcopal Church saw its active baptized members decline from approximately 1.712 million in 2017 to 1.676 million.
The 36,000-member drop is larger than the previous two years, when the denomination declined by about 32,500 members in 2017 and a little more than 34,000 members in 2016.
In 2018, the average Sunday worship attendance declined by about 23,500 people, making it the largest drop the church body has seen since at least 2014.
In previous years, 2017 saw an average worship attendance decline of around 13,700, 2016 saw a decline of 9,300, 2015 saw a decline of 20,600, and 2014 saw a near equal decline of 23,200.
The report on The Episcopal Church’s domestic dioceses also found that the number of congregations with 20 or fewer members had increased from 388 in 2017 to 418 in 2018.
Jeffrey Walton, Anglican expert at the theologically conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy, wrote on Tuesday that the numbers were not all bad for the liberal mainline denomination.
“Notably, non-domestic dioceses (many of whom did not support same-sex marriage rites) saw attendance nudge upward by 0.2%,” he explained.
“Similarly, the denomination’s flagship church, the Washington National Cathedral, reports an attendance rebound from 1,200 to nearly 1,500 in 2018, even as plate-and-pledge dropped more than one third, possibly indicating an increase in Sunday visitors.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski