2/22/2009

Now it is 100,000 defections to ACNA...The number just keeps reappearing.

The Anglican Church in North America has reported an Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) with some precision as 81,311. That is a much more exact number than the round number of 100,000 offered in various earlier contexts. One conservative blogger notes that it is important to ACNA folk to be as precise as possible about their numbers. I quite agree. With an ASA of 81,311 there is good reason to argue that the total number related to ACNA is probably between 160,000 to 240,000, on the grounds that if these Anglicans are more or less like most Episcopalians, somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of its membership appears on averaged. Thinking Anglicans would suggest these numbers (both ACNA's and mine) are a bit high.

Be that as it may, George Conger has written an article titled, "US: 100,000 defect" which appeared on the Church of England Newspaper on 2/20. The old number 100,000 reappears, this time as "defections." In the article Conger says, "The average Sunday attendance for the ACNA’s 693 congregations is81,311, with an estimated membership in excess of 100,000, the reportfinds." If 100,000 represents the membership of ACNA, then the vigorous ASA rate is about 80%. If so ACNA is to be congratulated. If so, also, ACNA is much smaller than either TA or Preludium have thought, being roughly 1/20th the size of The Episcopal Church.

The most interesting note on the Conger report, however, is the label "defections." The readers of the CofENewspaper are to suppose that this 100,000 are all defections from The Episcopal Church.
This is not the case, even in the Conger article itself. I suspect that most Reformed Episcopal Church members were not previously members of TEC, and AMiA has made a real point of new starts and mission outreach to people who have had nothing to do with TEC. As for the others, yes, they are defectors, although I doubt they would call themselves that.

One way or another the articles is no help at all. Not all 100,000 members (whatever they count) have defected from TEC. That number may not represent all of ACNA at all.

The number 100,000 comes up, dear friends, because it came up in earlier postings from the Common Cause Partnership. It is an unhelpful number, and all the more so when characterized as being the number of defections.

5 comments:

  1. Rounding up 80k to 100k is legitimate.....TEC regularly gives the misleading info of it having 2m members....I don't see posts round here complaining about that given nothing like 2m people are at TEC churches on a Sunday .... it is very hard to round up 0.7m on a Sunday to 2m but perhaps the laws of round have been "revised" in TEC?

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  2. Tim writing--

    I'm sorry, but I couldn't help giggling at the headline "100,000 Defect." Apart from its erroneous math, there's a grammatical reason not to use the term "defect."

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  3. I disagree, Observer, that one shouldn't talk about membership and only focus on attendance. Membership has flaws to be sure, but I am not in the pews every Sunday but am a member in good standing. What should an acceptable attendance to membership ratio be? That ratio has been falling, now at 34.4% in 2007, down from 36.9% in 2001. This reflects that a lot of people have left, but their names are still on the membership list.

    (For example, I was recently looking at Elizabeth Kaeton's parish and her ratio was under 20%, certainly a sign that the membership list has a lot of names needing to be culled.)

    What irritates me is the TEC's fiction that it has 2.4 million members. See the reference on Episcopal Life Online, here. The TEC hasn't had 2.4 million on its books since 2004 and now stands at 2.28 million. But this is the information released to the press and there is little incentive to change it. For example, see recent newspaper articles here, here, and here that all cite the 2.4 million business. (Just google "Episcopal 2.4 million" to find many more.)

    And note that 2.4 million of 2004 reflects non-domestic dioceses which they only started adding to the tally in 2003. The domestic total hasn't seen 2.4 million in over 10 years. The non-domestic boost comes mainly from Haiti with over 100,000 members, supposedly. I was just over there on a medical mission, and I am skeptical about that number. But regardless, I am very concerned about the support for those Haitian parishes drying up. (I note that funding for the MDG's was cut out of the new budget and that the power for the missions to the Lakota tribe in South Dakota was cut and that the ministry has been taken over by a CANA priest.) How long can the TEC continue to support Haiti? Our parish just announced that the finances are in such disarray that the monies from the Haiti fundraiser won't be going to our sister parish in Haiti but rather will be going into the general fund.

    Sorry about the long post, Mark+. One might be able to tell that I am a numbers geek. I know that Haiti is also close to your heart.

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  4. Then there is the issue of Mr. Duncan and his fog machine, who claim that ALL of Pittsburgh has defected to the Southern Cone. How so? Because he claims that unless the parishes petition for release from his grip, they are by default members of the SC. Thus, he counts those in Pgh who are faithful to TEC (around 40% and growing) as having defected, but that is just foggy math.

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  5. Mark, I don't think you'll be surprised to know that I'm one of those who believe the accurate and transparent record keeping and attendance / membership reporting is important, on both sides. I think you and I have exchanged comments on that topic and found we've agreed over the years.

    Robroy already has covered much of what I would have wanted to mention. For Patsykay, however, let me add that if I recall the ACNA press release correctly, the 81,000+ ASA figure very carefully distinguishes between those parishes and portions of the 4 TEC dioceses that left and those who wish to remain in TEC. So, I am pretty certain that the 81,000 is not based on counting ALL of Pittsburgh or Fort Worth, etc., but only those portions of the diocese that have expressed their intent to realign.

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