Monday, July 3, 2017

Within a Generation, the Anglican Church in North America Will Have More Members Than The Episcopal Church [of the US]

From the linked article:
The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is planting one new church a week, Archbishop Foley Beach told delegates to the triennial gathering of some 1400 Anglicans, at Wheaton College, in the heartland of America's Bible belt. The ACNA also officially received The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina as the newest diocese with some 9,000 members – the largest of 31 dioceses in the orthodox Anglican body.
This seems to counter the perspectives of Episcopal Church leaders who have presented a variety of theories as to why TEC's membership is now more selective.

Some stray observations by an ordained nobody:

Suing parishes for their property caused a number of TEC dioceses to spend a lot of their money. Most of these lawsuits were won by TEC, as is noted in the article, but what the dioceses were left with were parishes with inadequate membership, attendance, or giving to maintain a viable ministry.  Many of these parishes were subsequently closed and sold, usually at a reduced price. The money for the lawsuits has never really been recovered, either.

It also caused the membership of the ACNA to re-think the role of property in the practice of ministry.  If a congregation has a standard membership size, but does not have to carry the cost of a building, its utilities, insurance, lawn care, and snow removal, suddenly there is a whole lot of money available for ministry.  Even if they decide to build or buy a church, it's done as an extension of their ministry.  In other words, ministry comes before the building in the ACNA; it is often the opposite in TEC.  Through the years, my main responsibility as the clergy leader of a parish has been to ensure that we have the wherewithal to repair and maintain the property.  For some of my colleagues, that becomes fatiguing.

I'm going out on a limb here, this is based on the work I did with parishes ten to fifteen years ago, but I think the original controversy was not so much about sexuality and related liturgical practices as it was being regarded as a [to use a contemporary term] "deplorable" if one did not toe the official TEC line regarding these social issues.  The thing is, not everyone evolves in the same manner and according to a strict timeline established by a diocesan bishop's personal social consciousness.

During this period, I worked for some bishops who believed the motto of TEC should be "Everyone will have the same thoughts at the same time; Everyone will use the same words."  They were disdainful of clergy and laity who evidenced even the slightest hesitation in conforming their thoughts and words to the bishops' expectations.  It was ugly and unbecoming.  Unfortunately, and they will never have the personal awareness to admit it, membership was lost due to their intolerance and phobia of those with whom they disagreed.

Also, I strongly doubt that there are that many members of TEC.  If that figure is based on parish rosters, it would be safe to trim it by 50%.