Thursday, December 4, 2008

Episcopal Church Membership Statistics

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include Julia Duin of the Washington Times

The membership numbers for The Episcopal Church (TEC) are in the news today with the announcement of the new Anglican Church in North America. But the reporters are reporting different numbers.

Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times is still using a membership for TEC of 2.3 million. Kind of sneaky the way she wrote this sentence to make it seem the number for TEC was provided by the new North American church:
Bishop Duncan will be named the archbishop and primate of the North American church, which says it would have 100,000 members, compared with 2.3 million in the Episcopal Church.

Michelle Boorstein in the Washington Post story is using 2.2 million.

But Julis Duin in the Washington Times story, Duke Helfand in the LA Times story, Michael Conlon for the Reuters story and Rachel Zoll for the AP story all have membership down to 2.1 million.

If we are talking about The Episcopal Church in North America, e.g., the Domestic Dioceses, TEC is officially reporting membership down to 2.1 million for 2007. These 2007 numbers still include all ten thousand members of the Episcopal Diocese for San Joaquin although San Joaquin voted themselves out of TEC and joined the Southern Cone in December 2007, so they should be taken with a grain of salt. And using the 2007 numbers does not reflect the 2008 losses of the dioceses and churches now forming the Anglican Church in North America.

However, the TEC report shows Non-Domestic Dioceses beginning in 2002. As of 2007, the membership in these non-North American diocese raises the TEC total to 2.3 million. But it would not make sense to include the Non-Domestic Dioceses in a direct comparison with the new Anglican Church in North America. If we are looking at TEC including the Non-Domestic Diocese, shouldn't we compare to the total membership in GAFCON? Hmmm, that gets a little embarrassing, what with the large memberships in the Anglican churches in Nigeria, etc.

Perhaps Manya A. Brachear for the Chicago Tribune was wise to just write TEC has "has about 2 million members" and not use a decimal point at all.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

What is startling is how eager the spokespeople are to use the higher numbers, whilst the leadership is so complacent about the church's declining rolls.

Do the numbers matter or don't they?