Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Phallacious Logic

One of the vocal Chicken Littles of our church – who seems to hate the Episcopal Church but lacks the cajones to leave it honorably – recently pointed to a story from the Episcopal News Service, which includes this:

According to the churchwide Parochial Report data, membership in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church totaled 2,320,506 in 2006, down 2.2%, or 51,502, from 2,372,008 in 2005. Average Sunday attendance for 2006 was reported at 804,688, down 2.6%, or 21,856, from 826,544 in 2005. Data isposted online here and here.
By the way, have you noticed that each and every year, TEC posts its membership numbers, its revenue sources, its budget, all the names of its leadership, etc.? Have you ever seen similar transparency and honesty from the AAC, the Nutwork, or the new CCCP? No, and you won't. Hell! They can't even be honest about which or how many "bishops" attend their meetings, as Mark Harris has frequently observed.

But I digress. (What a surprise, eh?)

Chicken Little then pointed out that TEC lost 990 people every week in 2006 and offered up the usual innuendo that it's all because Bible-believing orthodox folks are leaving the church in droves.

Several others have commented on the decline. Some observe that part of this is just demographics in action, as the early baby-boomers begin to die. Some note that TEC isn't losing any more members than other mainline denominations. If memory serves, I believe that the Southern Baptists have experienced a greater decline than we have. And you know what a bunch of left-wingers they are, with all their openly gay pastors! But, oh well. Let's not allow the facts to get in the way of spin.

Mind you, I decry our loss of members and regular communicants. If I had my way, everyone would be an Episcopalian, for I really don't see how a thinking, seeking person can be anything else! [And, yes, I do say that with my tongue perched in the vicinity of my cheek.]

But here's what I haven't heard anybody else say: It's not just the conservatives leaving the Episcopal Church! Read the progressive Episcopalians' blogs as I do, and you'll see that gay and lesbian members are leaving TEC too – spewing Laodicea out of their mouths, and moving to the UCC, the MCC, the Church of the Brunch, or Starbucks. I personally account for some of the drop in ASA after GC06: I took a sabbatical from my parish for several weeks after the passage of the odious B033. A dear friend of mine left because he was tired of being An Issue instead of A Person in our church. I hear similar stories throughout the country. Not a lot of them. But enough to remember there are some gay/lesbian members fleeing Laodicea, just as the "orthodox" flee HeresyLand.

Of course, the schismatics are enjoying claiming all the credit. Yeah, well … They do need to be good at something.


Blogger Ann said...

I wonder about that too - I guess liberals leaving don't count with Chicken Little.

11/01/2007 12:04 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Correct. Because, you'll recall, most liberal Episcopopalians aren't even Christian, according to Chicken Little. Sheesh!

Incidentally, those loyal Episcopalians in the Nutwork dioceses are having a hard time building mailing lists of others who can help them rebuild after the sessionists are deposed, because so many real Episcopalians have left the neo-con parishes in San Joaquin, Fort Worth, etc.

11/01/2007 5:50 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Good picture of Chicken Little. I returned to the TEC because of the fundamentalism of the UMC. I will stay and support TEC.

11/03/2007 9:47 AM  
Blogger Mary Alice said...

It could be less of an ideological issue and more of a time issue. Everyone is looking for down time and frankly I haven't been to church as much myself lately...we all want something that will uplift us and sometimes church can seem more obligatory and less celebratory.

I know my particular parish is a little disconnected. The people are there for services, but when services are over there is little interaction, little actual "community" spirit. I think feeling a part of a community is what really uplifts and connects us to God and to one another.

Maybe THAT is really what is driving people off to Sunday brunch instead - to share their precious time with people that they know well and share bonds of care with.

11/03/2007 2:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ouch, Mary Alice! That's sad to hear. My time in my parish is the glue that holds my week and my spirit and my life together. The coffee hour here often lasts as long as the service does, with lots and lots of good visiting. Almost all my dear friends are also parishioners. It grieves me to hear you're in a parish where that's not the case.

11/05/2007 6:12 PM  
Blogger Tobias Haller said...

I agree with Mary Alice. The net-church-going over all is down, and society offers many other distractions on Sunday. I'm old enough to remember all the department stores (and most others) being closed on Sundays, and schools would never have sports on Sunday a.m.

Apart from the schismatics who have left over "the Issue" most of the decline relates, I'm sure, to this societal change, rather than anything in the ecclesia. Practical example: the local RC congregation has lost 90% (yes, that's ninety percent!) of its membership over the last 20 years, while my congregation has been relatively stable. Why? Not because Rome has held fast to an anti-gay policy, but to a change in the demographics -- an aging Irish/German population dying off or moving away; a huge increase in the Latino population, most of whom are not RC (rather many incline toward evangelical or pentecostal traditions, and others from mainland SA who were deeply offended by JPII's assault on Liberation Theology); and a small upsweep in the Vietnamese population in the neighborhood.

11/09/2007 9:54 AM  

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