Episcopal Church Decline

“Love” and Labyrinths: Episcopal Attendance Plummets

on September 3, 2019

Welcome banners proclaiming messages of indiscriminate affirmation paired with freshly installed labyrinths don’t appear to be slowing the ongoing Episcopal Church decline trend.

Statistics recently released by the Office of the General Convention show membership continued a gradual, uninterrupted drop of 36,214 persons to 1,676,349 (2.1%) in 2018, while average Sunday attendance declined 23,538 to 533,206 (4.2%). Across the denomination, nearly three-quarters of Episcopal parishes now have an average attendance of fewer than 100 persons. Median attendance across the church has dropped to 53. During the past five years, 59% of congregations have seen attendance declines of 10% or more.

The continued decline in members and attendees, even in major metropolitan areas, threatens the ability of the denomination to effectively continue ministry nationwide.

Outside of the state of Texas and Navajo Missions, no domestic diocese reports an increase in attendance, although declines vary widely. The northeastern regional Province 1 continues to shed attendance faster than any other region in the church, dropping 6.2%. Episcopal provinces are regional groups of dioceses, equivalent to Presbyterian synods or United Methodist regional jurisdictions.

The Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire that first elected an openly partnered gay bishop in 2003 reported a 2018 attendance decline of 19.9%. The relatively traditionalist dioceses of Florida and Springfield (Illinois) reported declines of 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively. Excepting Navajo Missions, the smallest diocese by attendance continues to be Northern Michigan, which dropped 4.4% to 393 attendees and was the only diocese to record zero adult baptisms and zero confirmations in 2018. Shrinking dioceses have little incentive to juncture with neighbors: doing so would effectively forfeit an eight person deputation to General Convention, which is the same size deputation as larger dioceses like Texas (22,350 attendees) receive.

Geography continues to play a role in church decline, with several Rust Belt and Northeastern dioceses faring worse off than some southern dioceses, and dioceses with significant coverage of rural areas shrinking faster than those with larger urban populations. Formerly traditionalist dioceses now under progressive leadership seem to be faring especially badly. The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, where Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg was married and is a parishioner, shed 9.5% of attendees in a single year.

Children’s baptisms in domestic dioceses declined from 20,069 in 2017 to 18,873 in 2018 (6%). Marriages dropped from 7,687 to 6,878 (11%). Burials declined from 27,355 to 26,377 (4%). Child baptisms only outnumbered burials in two of the nine provinces. One of those (Province IX) is entirely overseas dioceses; the other (Province II) includes three overseas dioceses (Europe, Haiti, Virgin Islands).

Occasional Bright Spots

Despite sustained decline, the Episcopal Church didn’t shrink everywhere in 2018. Notably, non-domestic dioceses (many of whom did not support same-sex marriage rites) saw attendance nudge upward by 0.2%. 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. The cathedral’s politically liberal and strident Dean Gary Hall was succeeded by Dean Randy Hollerith, who is less outspoken, in 2016.

In comparison, the wider Episcopal Diocese of Washington saw attendance drop 3.4 percent the same year. Nearby parishes reported decline, including neighboring St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, down from 500 attendees to 300 in the past decade. St. Columba’s, once the largest Episcopal parish in Northwest Washington, D.C., saw attendance drop from nearly 800 in 2008 to about 500 in 2018. St. Paul’s Parish, once a flagship church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, has declined in attendance about 40 percent in the same time period. Changes in teaching appear to have played a role at St. Paul’s, where clergy in same-sex marriages joined the staff there.

Across the Potomac River, the historic Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, has struggled with departures after church officials announced plans to remove plaques commemorating historic church members President George Washington and General Robert E. Lee. In the past decade, Christ Church has dropped from approximately 700 Sunday attendees down to 400, while losing a quarter million dollars from its annual plate-and-pledge income. Membership has dropped from more than 2,500 down to approximately 1,500.

Further south in Virginia, the historic Lee Memorial Episcopal Church, now re-named Grace Episcopal Church, attendance has dropped from 225 in 2012 to 140 in 2018. Membership dropped from 425 to 275.

2018 statistics by province and diocese can be accessed here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/5._statistical_totals_for_the_episcopal_church_by_province_and_diocese_2017-2018.pdf

The church’s official 2018 table of statistics includes information on baptisms, confirmations, receptions, weddings and burials. It can be accessed by clicking here.

A report on the 2017 numbers can be viewed here.

  1. Comment by Nick on September 3, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Don’t forget the self-styled “Historic Christ Church” in Alexandria, Va. They removed Washington and Lee and suffered a collapse.

  2. Comment by David on September 3, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I am still hesitant about making a big deal about numbers – the world is actually filled with false religions that are quite popular. The decline of liberal Christianity is notable only because:

    1. They keep (they still keep) trying to tell conservatives to behave like them or the conservative churches will die. For some bizarre reason the death of their own churches doesn’t seem to affect their reasoning on this matter.

    2. They die not merely for preaching a false message but for preaching a message that, ultimately, means you don’t need liberal Christianity either. Eventually their congregants either finally believe them and stop attending, or convert to orthodoxy and leave for another church.

  3. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on September 4, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Hello David, we’re in agreement. Retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark Jack Spong insisted for years that Christianity must change or die. The change he envisioned was a repudiation of Christian orthodoxy (indeed, Spong now identifies as a “non-theist”). Yet Spong’s diocese declined catastrophically during his tenure, and continues to drop.

    IRD reports these mainline Protestant declines not because they will cause progressive Christians to reassess and return to orthodoxy (absent the work of the Holy Spirit, an objective review of data alone won’t be sufficient, since there is disagreement about the multifaceted causes of the decline). Our intended audience is instead wavering orthodox Christians, whom we strive to show the consequences of cultural capitulation. If we abandon the Gospel, we are cut off from the Holy Spirit and our worshiping communities cease to be “salt and light” to the surrounding people. As Mark Tooley notes, conservative theology itself is no guarantee of church growth, but long-term, it is a prerequisite. There is no liberal Christian denomination in the United States that reports year-over-year growth. None.

  4. Comment by Jeff Winter on September 7, 2019 at 9:15 am

    As a former long-term PCUSA pastor I affirm Jeff Walton’s words as well as Mark Tooley’s. I am now in a much smaller Presbyterian denomination that affirms the essentials of the Christian faith, believes that Jesus is the ONLY WAY to eternal life, that life begins at conception, that marriage is ONLY between a man and a woman and that homosexual expression and transgenderism are aberrations from God’s will. Our denomination is growing. I wonder why?

  5. Comment by Loren J Golden on September 8, 2019 at 12:08 am

    The same could be said of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, except that it has stopped growing, at least temporarily.  The EPC’s 2017 Annual Statistical Report stated that the membership at the end of 2016 was 151,863, and the membership at the end of 2017 had fallen to 147,918 (2.6% decline).  The EPC’s 2018 Annual Statistical Report corrected the 2017 membership downward to 145,503 (4.2% drop from 2016) and reported that the membership at the end of 2018 had slipped to 145,210 (0.2% decline from 2017).
    To be sure, a two-year decline is hardly a trend, and the 4.4% two-year percentage loss was half that of the PC(USA) over the same two years.  Nevertheless, we must avoid the trap of thinking that if we affirm the essentials of the Christian faith, faithfully preach the Gospel from the pulpit week after week, and teach all the right doctrines in accordance with the Word of God, that we cannot but grow.  A 53-year unbroken streak of annual membership losses is a sure sign of a seriously unhealthy church, and the explosive growth reported of the nascent Church in Acts 2.41,47, 5.14, 6.7, 9.31,35,42, 11.21,24, 16.5 is nothing short of miraculous, but we must be particularly cautious of boasting in our growth, especially considering our natural sinful bent toward the idolatry of works righteousness.  Thus, we must endeavor to be like Paul, who wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (I Cor. 3.6-7)

  6. Comment by Eddie on September 3, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    Who could have possibly guessed that repudiating 2000 years of moral teaching would make people think the church didn’t really stand for anything.

  7. Comment by Ted Kim on September 4, 2019 at 6:48 am

    Dear sirs
    Do you think that perhaps the decline in membership in the Episcopal Church mirrors the similar phenomenon in Western Europe?

  8. Comment by Loren J Golden on September 4, 2019 at 8:50 am

    “Statistics recently released by the Office of the General Convention show membership continued a gradual, uninterrupted drop of 36,214 persons to 1,676,349 (2.1%) in 2018, while average Sunday attendance declined 23,538 to 533,206 (4.2%).”
    Presbyterian Church (USA) denominational officials would love to see membership losses that low.

  9. Comment by JR on September 4, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Those numbers seem to be right on trend with the most recent ones from the UMC (for the US).

  10. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on September 4, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Indeed. the PC(USA) has experienced nearly unparalleled levels of decline in recent years (I say “nearly” because the Disciples of Christ are doing their best to catch up with the PC(USA) in the race downhill).

    Now for the question: what makes the PC(USA) so much worse than the Episcopal Church in decline? Honesty. PC(USA) congregations pay a per-capita assessment to the General Assembly of $8.95. If you have 5,000 members on your session’s rolls, that’s nearly $45,000 annually. As a result, there is a strong disincentive to keep inactive members on a church’s rolls. This is a chief reason why the PC(USA) has reported catastrophic decline: their congregations were incentivized to be honest. The Episcopal Church has no such incentive, so we regularly see congregations with membership that is 3,4,5,6,7, or even 8 times the size of average Sunday attendance. Everyone knows most of these people haven’t darkened the door of the church in years, but there is no motivation to remove them. If anyone thinks the Episcopal Church actually has 1.7 million members, they’re mistaken: in reality, it is much, much less.

  11. Comment by Steve on September 4, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Actually Episcopal congregations do have at least one incentive not to overreport; the suggested salary and benefits for clergy is based upon the alleged size of the church. So, congregations have incentive to understate (at least when seeking to hire clergy) and clergy has an incentive to overstate. I suspect congregations might tend to adjust the numbers lower when going through a period without clergy.

  12. Comment by Joel Morsch on September 9, 2019 at 9:10 am

    As a retired priest of TEC I can assure you that the alleged size of a parish does effect either the compensation or retirement pay for any clergy in TEC. Retirement must be paid by the parish for the clergy as an 18% assessment on the annual stipend of the clergy. In fact a wise priest upon entering their calling always purges the membership records. Please do not state things as facts that are not. The article is accurate many comments seem to be conjecture.

  13. Comment by Steve on September 13, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    Sorry, thanks for the correction and insight, I think I’m seeing now that clergy compensation guidelines are based on ASA, not membership; that’s correct, right?

  14. Comment by Steve on September 13, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    St Andrews Episcopal Church, Edwardsville, IL, Diocese of Springfield, apparently went from a membership of over 240 to under 120 in the past year, so you appear to be of those wise priests you mention.

  15. Comment by Steve on September 13, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I’m aware of at least one large diocese (not yours) where clergy compensation guidelines are based on ASA; don’t actually know how common that is (and wasn’t inclined to research it – too many dioceses).

  16. Comment by Loren J Golden on September 4, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Be that as it may, the Episcopal Church has a leg up on the Presbyterian Church (USA) when it comes to attracting one segment of the population: disaffected liberal Catholics.  The high church liturgy of Episcopalianism is akin to that of Roman Catholicism, and although many liberal Catholics are disenchanted by the refusal of the Roman Catholic Church to embrace postmodern ideologies, especially related to human sexuality, they still have a fondness for Roman Catholic liturgy, and the Episcopal Church, with its marriage of high church liturgy, like that found in Roman Catholicism, with the compromised theology that gives liberals everything they demand with respect to capitulating to the spirit of the age, many liberal Catholics find a home in the Episcopal Church—although not enough to offset the hemorrhaging membership losses and falling worship attendance, obviously.

  17. Comment by JR on September 4, 2019 at 9:41 am

    “The Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire that first elected an openly partnered gay bishop in 2003 reported a 2018 attendance decline of 19.9%.”

    So electing an openly partnered gay bishop caused, 15 years later, a precipitous one-year drop in attendance of almost 20%? And let’s note, Bishop Robinson retired 5 years ago.

    That’s some SERIOUS lag time in the old ’cause and effect’ process. Or, much more likely, your implied premise (that previously having a gay Bishop caused a huge drop in attendance) is wholly incorrect.

    I haven’t seen any of the source data you must have to derive the 19.9% drop; certainly I would think that the current Bishop has some idea of why such a significant drop had occurred on his watch. Maybe a good practice from both a journalistic and Christian perspective would be to ask him directly?

  18. Comment by David on September 4, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: “after this, therefore because of this”) is an informal fallacy that states: “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.”

  19. Comment by MikeS on September 4, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    I think that the decline is due to their lack of anything interesting or unique to say. If you can get the same essential leftist message from the NY Times in the comfort of your own home, why bother going out to church?

  20. Comment by Steve on September 4, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Everybody needs to get out of the house. Lots of seniors go to McDonald’s, reputedly for the discounted coffee but also for conversation and because McDonald’s is welcoming. Sometimes a bunch will go from there to a church. Getting younger people to go with them would be harder presumably.

  21. Comment by Loren J Golden on September 4, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    About a year and a half ago, David French at the National Review said much the same thing in an article entitled, “This Is How Religious Liberty Really Dies” (https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/religious-liberty-threatened-culture-government/).  The pertinent text is as follows:
    “And it simply doesn’t work.  The Christian community and Christian service that people love are ultimately inseparable from the entirety of the Christian faith that spawned them.  Carve out the doctrines that conflict with modern morals and you gut the faith.  When you gut the faith, you ultimately gut the church.
    “It makes sense then that mainline denominations aren’t thriving.  They’re dying.  Without the eternal truths of the Christian faith, the church becomes just another social club.  Why sacrifice your time and money for the same wisdom you can hear at your leisure on NPR?”

  22. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on September 4, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Hello JR, I don’t assert that the consecration of an openly partnered gay bishop in 2003 caused a 20% attendance drop in 2018. I do see evidence that it has been a contributing factor, among many reasons, for a continued decline. In 2003 the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire reported 15,621 members and an Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of 4,858. In 2018, it reported 11,615 members (-26%) and 3,343 attendees (-31%). My source data is already linked at the bottom of the blog post, but you can contrast 2003 data here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/CD_2003Statistics.pdf with 2018 data here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/2018_table_of_statistics.pdf

    I have reviewed the data, and the cause of the 20% drop in 2018 was twofold: overall congregational decline across most of the diocese, paired with no longer reporting mandatory chapel attendance from one of two Episcopal schools as part of Sunday attendance (Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul in Concord). I first wrote about the inclusion of those school chapel services in 2015: https://juicyecumenism.com/2015/12/10/whos-counting-episcopalians-and-attendance/

    I hope that this information is helpful as we seek to document and understand the multifaceted causes of the ongoing Episcopal Church membership and attendance decline.

  23. Comment by JR on September 5, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I appreciate the update. I think it’s a pretty weak link to derive causality of the drop to a gay bishop elevation.

    Even the Southern Baptists have seen a (small) decline.

    I do think the larger cultural battle has a pretty big impact, as younger folks seem to by-and-large avoiding church in general. I think that is lessened in areas where the overall subculture is aligned with the locally dominant church (i.e. the south).

  24. Comment by James D. Berkley on September 7, 2019 at 4:55 am

    It is my understanding and memory that the Diocese of New Hampshire has been in a tailspin for years. It may have lost an excessive number in 2018, but for at least a decade or two, it has been shedding large numbers of its members on an annual basis. Bishop Robinson presided over a great loss of members, and the losses sadly continue.

  25. Comment by Igor on September 5, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Well, actually, I believe that the diocese of NH augered into the ground handily during Gene Robinson’s tenure as well — not simply in 2018. Walton seems to be merely noting the continuing, long-term, amazing plummet in NH.

  26. Comment by Assistant Village Idiot on September 8, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    I agree that is not a tight cause-and-effect. However, the Episcopalians here in NH who are trying to get alternative Anglican congregations started generally mention it, so It’s not nothing.

  27. Comment by JustCalvin on October 9, 2019 at 8:25 am


    The only way your snarkishness could be understood is if you legitimately thought that the 20% drop in attendance occured in a single year long after Gene Robinson’s ordination. That is not the case that Mr Walton is making, neither is it evident from the text of the article.

    Perhaps it would be wiser to apply a little charity here and grant to others the ability to make suitably logical inferences from the data. Certainly, nothing could be more silly and intellectually bankrupt than to think that the effect of an ordination only occurred many years later – other than thinking that other people reason in this fashion.

    The defensiveness in your post certainly lands like a thunk in an otherwise enlightened and civil thread.

  28. Comment by David on September 4, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    The linked article on labyrinths does not make a great deal of sense. Why were they made large enough to accommodate persons if they were just ornamental patterns. Smaller designs would be much more visible and decorative. Several sources mention labyrinths were a penitential practice transversed on one’s knees in the Middle Ages. Similar practices persist at the Sacred Stairs in Rome, Our Lady of Guadeloupe in Mexico City, and elsewhere.

  29. Comment by mike geibel on September 4, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Yes, the claim of 1.676+ million total members must be inflated, as only 1/3 of this number, 533,206, regularly attend church. The ASA count is also inflated because it includes clergy, and if there is more than one service, clergy are counted twice.

    For prospective: The USA has a reported population of 330 million. 1.6 million Episcopalians would represent less than 0.5% of society. An estimated 48% of the population is Christian (but declining), so the TEC is less than 1% of all Christians in America. A Study from Yale states there are 22.8 million undocumented immigrants living in the USA—double the number stated by the Dept. of Homeland Security and 20 times the number of Episcopalians. Up to 3.5 million people in the USA are homeless at any given time so there are more homeless Americans than Episcopalians. How ironic that there are more than twice as many members in the NRA (a popular target of the TEC) than in the Episcopal Church. The TEC is truly the gnat on the horn of the Bull, yet continues to assume its moral superiority on social and political issues even as its influence is vanishing.

    Causes of decline—maybe? Old members are dying and not being replaced, birth rates are stagnant, partisan politicking is toxic, and a general malaise caused by the replacement of Christ’s appeal to the righteous life of the individual with the TEC’s “political correctness creed” to be imposed on all of us. This creed requires a one world order with no borders, no guns, no Israel, no genders, and a mantra that our sexist, racist, evil American society must be destroyed, one pronoun at a time. The Kingdom of Heaven can only be reached by a partisan activist agenda, but where the Church will get its pledge money when we are all equally poor and equally unhappy, remains a mystery.

  30. Comment by Loren J Golden on September 4, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    “An estimated 48% of the population is Christian (but declining).”
    As a percentage of the American population, yes.  But the number of Christians is rising.  See Joe Carter’s article, “FactChecker: Are All Christian Denominations in Decline?”, published 3-1/2 years ago on the Gospel Coalition’s website (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/factchecker-are-all-christian-denominations-in-decline/).

  31. Comment by Loren J Golden on September 4, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Excuse me.  4-1/2 years ago (March 17, 2015).

  32. Comment by mike geibel on September 5, 2019 at 12:02 am

    My bad— about 48% of the Population is Protestant:

    “In 2016, Christians represent 73.7% of the total population, 48.9% identifying as Protestants, 23.0% as Catholics, and 1.8% as Mormons, and are followed by people having no religion with 18.2% of the total population. “


  33. Comment by David on September 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    A more recent survey has “nones”slightly outnumbering Catholics and Evangelicals.


  34. Comment by Tom C Fuller on September 5, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    You never hear them talk about their victims. Where is the love shown toward the children they abandon to chase after their desires and gratify their lusts?

  35. Comment by John Donaldson on September 7, 2019 at 2:47 am

    As an interesting contrast, how are the Anglican churches doing in the USA?

  36. Comment by Leon M. Green on September 7, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Per John 8:1-11 we are not to judge them. Per all his preaching against fornication: sex outside of marriage, and that marriage is between a man and a woman, and Paul’s Romans 1:22-32 they have to know deepest down they are wrong. But again Paul reminds us in Romans 2:1-11 not to judge. We may, and must, preach: rebuke, reprove, exhort. And remember to pray for our enemies, Matthew 5:44; and that whatever they say about us, Jesus already took care of it: Romans 15:3.

  37. Comment by Jim Radford on September 7, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Even if the United Methodist Church doesn’t go the route taken by the Episcopalians–and God bless the Anglicans–and I continue to hope and pray that it doesn’t, I don’t look for the decline in our own church to stop, slow, or reverse, until we learn to get the story straight and tell the truth. I realize how ambiguous (and maybe even presumptuous) such a statement could be perceived, but, for the life of me, I don’t see how those who want to depart, who are calling for it, and who long for it, actually think and believe that if they had their way, if their doctrine was embraced, and everyone else got on board with them, then everything would be different, and then all would be well. As the IRD is doing–and I say God bless you, too–I am fighting against post-modern, liberal, secular religiosity as well, but I will say that I do not think that the mainstream of evangelical/fundamental Christianity (and I am not really referring to the well-meaning, thoughtful, informed, and intelligent evangelical and conservative-minded folks who comment here) is going to cut it, so-to-speak, no matter how dedicated they are to upholding Historic Orthodox Creedal Christianity. It would be great, and a nice starting point, if everyone were on board with HOCC. But I have run into far too many mean-spirited, judgmental, dogmatic, separatist-minded Christians on both sides, left and right, and in all camps including Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Traditionalists, to believe that apart from a direct outpouring of the Holy Spirit of Truth, the risen Lord Jesus Himself–i.e., a genuine revival–to believe that anything is going to change. I don’t believe that the returning Lord Jesus is going to preside over such a fractured, pluralistic, and “dis-unified” (my non-word) culture. I believe that He would first have to transcend all the current division, and sovereignly unify His body. How do you think He’s going to do that? By encouraging more schisms? More “true believers?” I think not.

  38. Comment by Larry Rued on September 7, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    The membership losses would be much worse if the churches were allowed to leave these denominations with the property that was bought and paid for by the local church.

  39. Comment by Doug comer on September 7, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I left the ECUSA (confirmed at christ church Alex. Va) after the general convention voted to allow gay priests and a same sex marriage “blessing”. This after then Bishop Lee dishonored his own commitment not to support those moves. That was not about principle, it was about the desire to accommodate social pressures. Lee was completely dishonest in that action. This at a time when I was striving to instill scripture based values on sex and marriage in my 11 year old son. I felt completely and totally undermined as a parent by those actions of the church. And my local congregation meekly accepted them and then drove out our parish priest who disagreed with bishop Lee on those decisions.

    I will never return to this corrupted, dead institution. Without the vine, the grapes wither.

  40. Comment by Aaron Fraustro on September 13, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    They’ve updated their stats. It’s 4.5% decline now for ASA.

  41. Comment by Sharon Lundgren on September 15, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    When you embrace everything, then you stand for nothing. That is what is happening in these ECUSA parishes. Jesus said, “No one comes to God the Father, except by ME (the Son)!” Pray for the believers in JESUS to become the REMNANT….and REVIVE the church! “Will you not REVIVE US LORD; that your people may rejoice in YOU!” Psalm 86:5

  42. Comment by Arthur on September 17, 2019 at 10:12 am

    I am another person who left the Episcopal Church. I was an organist/choirmaster and I miss the music and liturgy. I could not stay, for I am very liberal and cannot read the Nicene Creed with a straight face.

    I do agree with the progress that has been made in the Episcopal Church, but I find, at least in my former parish, that to really get the most out of the church, you have to either have money or power – business owners, professors, and judges run the church. For the most part, they are good people, but they are also very hard on their staff members. It is a beautiful Gothic church, so it is very expensive to maintain – and they have to cater to people with deep pockets. Me? I’m just an engineer who goes to work every day – I am not prominent in my community. I have a wonderful wife and 2 teenagers.

    I now go to a Unitarian Universalist congregation – the minister there is the best liturgist I know, and she lives her life in a way that would be compatible with the highest of Christian ethics. She meditates. She prays. I am not sure what she believes in, but she does not believe in G-d. Most importantly, she is not a hypocrite.

    One last thought: My minister went to a Christian seminary, and many of her classmates lost faith while in seminary. They intended to go through with ordination as they felt it was too late now. “I’m going to be living a lie” said one person. She does not have to live a lie.

    PS: When I was in a motorcycle accident, my minister came to the hospital and sat with me in the ER until my wife could get there. My fellow congregants put together a meal train, and asked how they can help. Athiest, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Wiccan – whatever their religious orientation, these people were very “Christ-like” in my definition.

    As for my former Episcopal parish, my best friend’s mother died recently, and no one from the parish called. The rector does not seem to care except for dealing with the powerful people. I will not set foot in that so-called church anymore.

  43. Comment by Arthur on September 17, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Where do I stand on G-d, you ask? My UU experience has affirmed a very powerful and loving G-d that is greater than our understanding. My wife, a devout Roman Catholic (I was the organist in her church when we met), prays in a way that I truly believe is heard. Both my wife and my minister are two religious women of vastly different beliefs who are sincere.

  44. Comment by jk nbt on September 27, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Religion and spirituality are coping mechanism that teach life skills, morals, and social skills. Religion teaches a “life of faith” where people live on faith and not by sight. Religion brings families and communities together to cooperate with each other with the net effect that strangers help non-family strangers for moral reasons. With all of the safety nets that have been institutionalized since the 1930s such as social security and the welfare state, a lot of the need for a “life of faith” has gone away. Also, the reserve banks across the world print new fiat money as long as they have barrels of ink and a supply of more cotton paper. When money had a hard currency value, life was a lot harder. You actually had to earn your living exchanging valuable goods and services in a tough, demanding market. Fiat money has taken away a lot of that incentive. That changed after all the industrialized countries went off the gold and silver money standards. This started in the 1930s and was complete by the 60s and 70s. In 1965, a US silver dollar was worth one dollar. In 2019, an ounce of silver sells for $17 paper dollars in the coin shops. That’s a pretty good indicator of how much fiat money has been pumped into the economy.

    The young people I know that have divorced themselves from religion use “science” as an excuse and an acceptable “plan B”. Science has given us nifty gadgets like cell phones and digital watches, but it proves out to be a dry cracked cistern when someone tries to use it as a personal life and moral philosophy. Young people can’t understand that when they look at the dazzling array of nifty gadgets science and technology have given them.

    The cornerstone of Christianity is the Word of God. For over 100 years now, liberal religionists have been debunking the Word. They teach that the Word is not inspired and God-breathed at all. They teach that the bible is merely words about God, not the spoken literal Word of God itself. If that is true, then the scriptures are just an invention of well-meaning but misinformed ancient peoples with little relationship to the realities of life in the 21st century.

    Bible based New Testament Christianity is a high investment religion. Jesus meant it when he said to “take up your cross and follow” and to “count the costs”. Young people these days want an easy walk and way without any burdensome crosses or costs. They expect to live as they please and sin as much as they please and somehow still make it to heaven, since after all, we are saved by grace. There are a lot of “comfort preachers” in “seeker-friendly” churches that will serve up that form of apostate religion. After all, we all want our “best life now”. New Testament Christianity requires you to pay the price to love, obey, and follow Christ. This price can even be as high as your own life. To do less is a life of compromise, “the broad way that leads to destruction”. Young people have never heard this sort of gospel in their liberal church pulpits. Conservative preachers are increasingly reluctant to preach this sort of high investment religion, since they tend to lose part of their congregation each time they do.

    The biggest decline in attendance in churches and investment in religious belief is among liberal churches. These people do not believe that the bible is the inspired, authoritative Word of the Living God. Conservative people still believe this, though their children and grandchildren are having a harder and harder time buying into this belief system. If what the liberal preachers are saying is true, the Christianity and its bible are just one more mythology and one more ancient belief system. It is hard to lay down your life for a myth.

    The declining interest in Christianity and morality is one of the biggest proof signs that we are living in the end times. Jesus said in his discourse on the last days in Matthew 24 that “…iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). We are living in the last days. The “thief in the night”, pre-tribulation rapture is about to happen. Get ready, the Lord is coming soon.

  45. Comment by John on November 21, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    It really seems like gaslighting to publish this article and not point out that average church attendance in America is at an all time low across the board. TEC decline has been happening since the 60s, not just since the acceptance of gay priests.

  46. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on November 22, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for your comment, John. I’ve regularly pointed out that TEC has declined from a high point in the 1960s. But that decline has not been consistent: the Episcopal Church only lost about 18,000 members across the 1990s. The election and consecration of Gene Robinson was one of several factors (including the spread of Universalism among Episcopal clergy) that contributed to a sharp acceleration of Episcopal decline in the 2000s. You say that average church attendance in America is at an all-time low across the board. Can you cite that statistic? I’d agree that overall church attendance as a percentage of the U.S. population is down since the 1990s, but that decline is uneven (groups like the Assemblies of God, Wesleyan Church, Presbyterian Church in America, Church of God in Christ, among others) all report growth. I’d also note that prior to the Great Awakenings, church attendance was moribund in much of North America.

  47. Comment by Eric Bonetti on December 5, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Given the moral bankruptcy of The Episcopal Church, I have left after a lifetime in the church. When Bishop Susan Goff can tell me, in writing, with a straight face, that she won’t address clergy perjury because they didn’t face criminal charges, it is time to head for higher moral ground.

    As an avowed liberal, feel free to quote me: The Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt.

  48. Comment by Heather Hardy on June 4, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Eric…I’ve read about your experience. And though I haven’t experienced anything as severe, in my brief 1.5 years as an Episcopalian, I’ve had my own problems with a prominent Episcopal Church in Alexandria after I cried foul when the assoc. rector, chair of preschool board, and interim preschool director called me (board treasurer) in the middle of a hectic workday to push through an $18,500 decision without providing advance notice of the meeting, without adopting a budget, and without even reviewing a current budget, much less conducting thoughtful deliberations. I think the board chairman and assoc. rector did this unintentionally, as they were clearly incompetent. But when I complained that this was an irresponsible way to make decisions regarding parishioners’ contributions whether intentional or not, the rector was only bothered that I called them out on it and didn’t offer me one word of support though I’d been placed in an uncomfortable and compromising situation while serving in his church. He cut me off when I suggested someone needed to explain to the Board Chairman why meetings and financial decisions should not be made this way, and told me to “move on”. I sadly resigned as I felt there was no other way to resolve the matter other than pretend I was ok with it. I wasn’t even a member, yet, when the Rector asked me to serve as the Assistant Treasurer for the church; I later learned I would be the Treasurer for the preschool board when the Rector announced it in a vestry meeting (didn’t ask me first). I love the church, the work I did, and cared about those with whom I attended and served alongside. But now feel I was used and the church had no other interest in me except the financial work I did for them. I came from an Evangelical background, but agree with Episcopalians in most matters of theology. But the contrast in how people are treated has shocked me (I realize I’ve only been in one Episcopal church….but this is supposed to be one of the better ones). I plan to try others and I’m hoping for a better experience.

  49. Comment by Kevin on December 27, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    I have been a church organist/choirmaster most of my life having also earned a master’s degree in that field. I was born and baptized in the Episcopal Church, but as the son of an organist, I went to church where my mother happened to be playing.

    I would classify myself as highly liberal, and I ended up leaving my very liberal parish out of respect for the new organist (I think that is proper since I was a candidate – he is definitely the right person for that church). I ended up in a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

    Now I find myself more liberal than the liberal Episcopal Church I left!

    One thing that I really have a hard time with is the hierarchical structure of TEC – and very often, there is a sense of elitism and entitlement in many parishes. Also, TEC is trying to be all things to all people.

    My UU congregation is a very healthy congregation, and I discovered that many TEC parishes are quite toxic (no denomination, including the UUA, is immune to toxicity). So I stayed, and since we do not have an organ (nor desire one), I make myself available to occasionally substitute at churches that still have a pipe organ.

    Where do I think organ music in worship is going? Even with a Master’s degree in organ performance and church music, I think the traditional organ and choir is obsolete. We need to accept that. (Fortunately, I was able to dust off my engineering degree!)

  50. Comment by Jeremy on January 4, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Hello–I myself am Catholic, but found this site after reading about the pending Methodist split (and thinking how I stopped hearing about the similar issues with the Episcopalians).

    And I realized–you actually had a split too, which is now just about complete. However, instead of a formal vote to split as is occurring with the UMC, your conservative members just individually (quietly, one-by-one) left.
    So now the battle is over. The liberals won, and in fact the Episcopalians are now widely considered the most liberal denomination in America.

    But though it was not formal, you did have a split. Your ex-conservative members became Catholic, non-denominational, or conservative Prebyterian (among others). After Vatican 2, the Catholic church grew quite close to conservative Episcopalian, so I know we confirmed quite a few ex-Episcopalians at my parish over the last few years.

    But of course even that kind of an informal split is going to lead to a membership decline. The good news is, that decline should be just about over, and you are not racked with the acrimonious debates and bad press currently facing the UMC–you are free of those distractions to your church mission.

    So I’d say you’re entering a new phase where you can embark on a new growth, with a atrong sense of identity–of who you are. I would see your membership drop of the last few years as a one-time necessary cost of the split, and look forward to the potential for growth your new clarity brings. You are no longer “the closest Protestant church to Catholicism”, but you have a new identity to share to the world. Go forth, grow, and fulfill your mission!

  51. Comment by Marc Meinzer on February 13, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Episcopal church has never been quick to adapt to migration patterns, which is why the Methodists stole most of their members during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The same thing is happening now with migration tending south and west. The Episcopalians are also culturally elitist enough to be annoying to persons not upper-middle class, and the gay weddings fiasco continues this tendency, as well as bias in favor of classical music, now over-long services almost exclusively based on distribution of holy communion to the exclusion of morning prayer, formerly the more popular service. Also, missions are weak with most churches in blighted neighborhoods getting closed. The fact that Episcopalian ordinands must finance their own divinity school education promotes ordination of adult converts who’ve already gotten their M Div degrees typically from non-denominational seminaries, which weakens interest in same among cradle Episcopalians. Also those who are getting ordained turn off the laity with their pseudo-intellectual rationalism and even indifferentism.

  52. Comment by Dub Maedgen on March 2, 2020 at 9:22 am

    St Martin’s Houston could lead the episcopal church back to life if any in the national church were willing to admit their error, but they aren’t. It’s record of growth, involvement of all ages, and community service evolve from its commitment to scriptural and traditional values.

  53. Comment by Christian on September 3, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Why do you take such glee in people’s turning away from the church? It’s gross. If you don’t want to be a part of the Episcopal Church, don’t; but worry about the stick in your own eye instead of constantly pointing out the failings of others. You are not spreading the Gospel or luring people to your idol of “orthodoxy” … you just look sad.

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