How refreshing to know that the realignment bean counters have done the numbers for us, after all, with them doing the counting we all know our days as progressives are indeed numbered.
First, there is the widely bandied about number of 30 Million… that is the number represented by the Global South Primates who refused to go to the Lord's Table with the Presiding Bishop. That's what the Archbishop of Nigeria and others said.
That's a bit different than the numbers touted for the whole of the Global South group. The "Third Trumpet" communiqué gave the number as 2/3 of the total Anglicans. At 70 Million that is 46 million.
Then again the number 70 Million is somewhere between the outside guess of 76 Million and about 60 Million. There is considerable question as to the actual number of Anglicans in the world.
The reason for all the variations is that no one knows… what in the world does it mean to speak of all these people? How do you count?
How, for example are we to count the number of Anglicans in Nigeria. Over and over again we hear that Nigeria has the largest number of active 'on the ground' Anglicans in the world. What is the most useful number in regards to Anglicans in the Church of England? The most recent lists I have seen give the number at 26 Million. The number of adherents, judging from actual attendance in church, is considerably smaller.
Stephen Bates suspects that the number of Anglicans in Nigeria, touted as somewhere between 17 and 20 million, is an overreach. He says, "Even Nigeria, which has claims to be the most vibrant province and says it has 18.5 million Anglicans (a tripling in the last 30 years) produces some pretty dubious accounting methods to reach that number, including many members several times over."
Yesterday a new set of numbers came in, regarding Anglicans in the United States. The Moderator of the Network, Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh, stated this in his letter to the Diocese of Pittsburgh: "Statistics bearing out the assertion that the Network and Windsor Dioceses, together with AMiA, CANA, and Network Convocation and Conference parishes across the country, represented a number equal to one-quarter of The Episcopal Church's membership, minimally some 500,000 souls, a number larger than 18 Provinces of the Anglican Communion."
This number is a mishmash.
These statistics mix apples and oranges: AMiA, CANA and "Conference" (that's the Network International Conference) represent congregants that may have belonged to the Episcopal Church, but do not now. The Windsor "Coalition" consists of dioceses that are part of the Episcopal Church, (Network Dioceses are included in this). The Statistics offered in support of the general claim of 500,000 "soul" includes every member of every Network Diocese, and every Non-Network Windsor Diocese, as well as the numbers for such groups as the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America, neither of which groups are part of the Anglican Communion, even by way of inclusion in a Province.
But all of the non-Episcopal Church groups put together yield less than 44,000 members. AMiA / ACIA folk (109 parishes) do not offer a list of baptized members. The large majority of the 25% are people currently part of the Episcopal Church. As members they may or may not be disaffected from the so called "Majority (innovating) TEC." The estimate in the statistics offered are that that number is about 440,000 of the 500,000 touted in the Moderator's count. All the other groups together constitute less than 10 percent of the whole of his number.
What the Moderator is saying then is that roughly one quarter of the active members of the Episcopal Church are to be counted as contrary to the "Majority (innovating) TEC." The numbers he cites do not support this.
These numbers are a fiction, howbeit a fiction not unrelated to realities we must deal with.
Then we get the big one: The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian group in the world, after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox. This is a number bandied about by almost everyone in the ecclesiastical numbers game. What in the world does it mean? It means we want to be contenders.. playing with the big kids. But it is also a prideful number, unrelated to the realities that we are not a "church" like the Roman Catholic Church nor are we a "church" like the Orthodox bodies. We are something different.
So the numbers go on and on.
And, interestingly, no one offers a reason why numbers should count.
Here is a secret: They don't, unless you are interested in playing with the big kids.
The only number that counts is "One." As in God is One, and in Jesus Christ we are one.