Anglican Church Canada

November 20, 2019

Numbers Confirm: Anglican Church of Canada is Collapsing

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC), counterpart to the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, will cease to exist by the year 2040 according to numbers recently reported by the denomination. Even more dramatically, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is on the verge of overtaking the ACoC in attendance.

“There is no sign of any stabilisation in our numbers; if anything the decline is increasing,” noted the Rev. Dr. Neil Elliot in a statistical report presented to the Canadian House of Bishops. “Some had hoped that our decline had bottomed out, or that programs had been effective in reversing the trends.  This is now demonstrably not the case.”

The report includes the first comprehensive set of official statistics since the early 2000s. Data confirms anecdotal stories from across much of the Canadian church that Anglican Christianity is vanishing there. In 1962 (the height of Anglican participation) the ACoC reported more than 1.3 million members, out of a total Canadian population of approximately 18 million, seven percent of Canadians affiliated with the Anglican Church. By 2017, Canada’s population had risen to more than 35 million (+94%) but only 357,123 members were counted on the rolls of the Anglican Church there, 1 percent of the population.

A tip of the hat to David Jenkins of the Anglican Samizdat blog: Jenkins first broke news of the report prior to its official release. Since that time, the Christian Post, Religion News Service, Virtue Online and even Episcopal News Service have posted about the numerical decline in the Canadian Anglican church.

New attendance figures are striking: in 2017, the Anglican Church of Canada had an average Sunday attendance of 97,421. For context, the Anglican Church in North America (which partly overlaps geographically with the ACoC) reported an average Sunday attendance of 93,489 this past year. The ACNA through its Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) diocese and The Reformed Episcopal Church’s Canadian convocations now has congregations in every Canadian province with the exception of Prince Edward Island.

Obviously this comes with a major caveat: the ACNA also has congregations in the United States and Mexico, which the ACoC does not. In order to offer an “apples to apples” comparison, we can add the Average Sunday Attendance of the ACoC to the same for the Episcopal Church in 2017 (553,927) for a total attendance of 651,348 between the two neighboring churches. The ACNA’s 93,489 figure is about 15 percent the size of the combined ACoC and TEC attendance figure, but a consistent trajectory is visible: the two liberal Anglican provinces are consistently declining, while the ACNA has for its first 10 years reported consistent growth.

Attendance is one objective metric when evaluating church vitality. Figures for baptism, marriage, and total number of clergy are also relevant. According to the ACoC report, the church listed 5,441 baptisms in 2017 (down from 13,304, or 59%, in 2001) and 2,071 marriages the same year (down from 6,009, or 66%, in 2001) and 3,491 clergy (down from 3,675, or 5%, in 2001).

As Jenkins wrote, the Anglican Church of Canada is declining faster than any other Province within the worldwide Anglican Communion other than TEC, which has an even greater rate of decline.

Check out the entire ACoC report here and access the raw data here.

7 Responses to Numbers Confirm: Anglican Church of Canada is Collapsing

  1. “In 1962 … (the) total Canadian population (was) approximately 18 million…  By 2017, Canada’s population had risen to more than 35 million (+49%).”
    There is something wrong with your math.  (35,000,000-18,000,000)/18,000,000 = 94% growth.

    • Jeffrey Walton says:

      Good catch, Loren. The percentage that I reported (49%) is what has been added to the Canadian population since 1962 (17 million is 49% of the current population). You are correct that the Canadian population has grown 94% in that same period.

  2. Kevin Murphy says:

    “Numbers Confirm: Anglican Church of Canada is Collapsing.”
    I for one find this caption encouraging as I look forward to the fall of all religion that masquerades as true Christianity.

  3. Will says:

    When a church of whatever denomination becomes more or less secular it loses the reason for existing. Christians believe in the Resurrection and life after death. Christian churches do immeasurably good for the world but without the core belief, the secular churches will inevitably fail.

  4. David Gingrich says:

    We must pray for the Anglican Church in America, that it will remain faithful and continue to be a needed witness for God.

  5. MikeS says:

    Whenever I attend a liberal church, I’m usually depressed at the end and can’t wait to leave. The message usually involves guilt manipulation and works righteousness. Not a real appealing message or experience, so, it’s no surprise that churches and denominations like this are shrinking.

    • Usually the only time I attend a liberal church is when my family and I are visiting my in-laws (in Michigan; we live in Texas), and we visit their dwindling ELCA church home (2 or 3 times a year).  They can no longer afford a full-time pastor (they rely upon pulpit supply from the synod), and the only individual in the church under the age of 18 who regularly attends, is my in-laws’ five-year-old foster grandson.
      Unsurprisingly, they follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which is preferred by Theological Liberals across all Mainline Protestant denominations, and on our last visit (back in July), the Gospel reading (which is the only reading preached there) was Luke 10.1-11,16-20, in which the Lord Jesus sends 72 (or 70, according to some manuscripts) of His larger circle of disciples out to evangelize many of the towns and villages in Galilee.  What is notably absent from this passage is vv. 12-15, in which the Lord Jesus speaks a word of judgment against any town to which they might go that might reject the preaching of the Kingdom of God, as well as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, which had already rejected Him.  The RCL also omits vv. 21-24 (the next Gospel reading is the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10.25-37), in which the Lord Jesus, once the 72 have returned to Him, thanks His Father for having hidden the Gospel message from the wise and understanding but revealing it to the humble, by His gracious will.  He also emphasizes, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal to him,” and He tells His disciples that they are blessed to have seen what they have seen concerning His ministry, for they have witnessed what the Old Testament saints had longed to see and hear.
      These omissions are very telling of the Theological Liberals responsible for the production of the RCL and those who use it uncritically, for they are embarrassed by a God or a Jesus who judges others for having rejected His message, and thereby rejecting Him, and Who does not impart knowledge of Himself liberally and equally to all.  (Unsurprisingly, the RCL omits Is. 6.9-13 from any of its heavily parsed daily readings of the Old Testament Scriptures.)  Theological Liberals preach half a Jesus—which is no Jesus at all—a Jesus and a god that align nicely with their social justice program, but who condemns no one for not believing in him or for trusting in any other gods besides him.  But the Lord Jesus said, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mk. 8.38, Lk. 9.26)

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