Numbers on the Gang of Four

In all likelihood the bishop, and a majority of clergy and lay delegates to the Diocese of Fort Worth convention will vote to leave the Episcopal Church, align temporarily with the Province of the Southern Cone and wait upon the right time to become part of a new improved Anglican Province of North America. 

In this action the bishop and delegates will  join similar groups of  folk in the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Quincy.

The question is, how may people does this represent?  Well, its hard to tell.
In terms of raw numbers, the most recent estimates we have on these dioceses are as follows:

                   total membership          average Sunday attendance (ASA)
San Joaquin :   10,500                                                4,000
Pittsburgh        20,000                                                8,000
Quincy              1,850                                                1,000  
Fort Worth       17,000                                               7,000   
totals:               49,350                                              20,000

The current figures given for the membership of The Episcopal Church is 2,154,000 (domestic) 2,320,000 total. The average Sunday attendance is 764,000 (domestic) 804,000 total.

This means that if everyone in the four dioceses left those dioceses, the percentage of the whole membership and ASA would be approximately  2.2% total and 2.5%. ASA.

But of course not all the people of those dioceses are leaving. Supposing ¾ are, that percentage drops below 2%.

There are a variety of parishes outside these four dioceses, and a larger group of disaffiliated laity and clergy who are now wanderers who simply don’t get included in this group. The overall numbers leaving the Episcopal Church it seems to me still grow to about 7 percent, or about 155,000.  In terms of ASA that is about 56,000.  Moderator Duncan estimated the overall numbers of ASA at about 100,000, meaning the other groups in the Common Cause Partnership (CANA, AMiA, REC, etc) bring in about 44,000 worshipers.  That is a generous but reasonable figure.

The point is, that in terms of The Episcopal Church these four dioceses account for something like 2.4 percent of the whole.

When it is all over I still believe about 7 to 8 percent of the Episcopal Church will have left. The number leaving and taking the property?  1 percent.

But that’s another story.

Meanwhile, remembering that Bishop Iker, all the people of Fort Worth, and the people set on realignment and those set to remain members of the Episcopal Church are all part of the community of the faithful, let us pray that they and we may have peace in our hearts towards one another.


  1. The realigners will start with 7% of the Episcopal church ASA? Perhaps. I would caution, though, that 100% - 7% does not equal 93%. Indeed, the ASA has dropped 14% in the past five years which doesn't even reflect the exiting of the four. Simultaneous mega-lawsuits on four fronts together with the further revisions taken on at GC09 will be disastrous for the denomination. If one's business were to be contracting like the Episcopal denomination, I don't think it would be wise to be cavalier about a 1% loss here and a 2% loss there.

    56% of parishes lost 10% or more in their ASA. The median ASA is only 69. A parish of 69 is not self supporting in most parts of the country. The viability of such a parish is certainly questionable. Thousands of non-supporting parishes can burn through a lot of money quickly.

  2. I didn't realize that Quincy was such a small diocese. Thanks for this post, Mark.

  3. South Carolina, New York, Central Florida...

    ...if GC '09 turns into a nightmare for them then you will see these ponder much more intensely their relationship with the General Convention.

    What happened to just the loud "few" who don't want to be with "us"?

  4. Mark, I join you in your prayers. I believe it is best to part and go each in our own way. Those who are aligning with Nigeria and the Southern Cone will certainly be able to leave again when they form their new North American confabulation. I wish them well. May God grant you peace.

  5. Right you ARE, robroy!

    What is ALWAYS left out of these posts is why TEC cannot get more than 50% of its membership to darken the Church of the New Thing. For all of the statistics and rationales proffered by revisionists, there has never been an admission that the Church has been rejecting THE AGENDA for 40 years. So we just lost 20,000 ASAs. (have we forgotten the previous trickle of attrition that is now a stream?) The one and only diocese that is growing is South Carolina, and it by new converts rather than transfers. And yet there is no hesitation to continue to alienate them in the official mechanisms of TEC.

    Bottom Line: the loudest leadership in TEC doesn't care about numbers. So what if 20,000 hop off. And then another dozen or so churches this year...and another diocese or two within two years. THE AGENDA is to be a progressive, revisionist Church even if it meets in a church basement someplace....just leave the keys of YOUR property so that they don't have to do the hard work of funding the dream.

    Can anybody show me what revisionist diocese or parish IS growing? Forget bringing up All Saints, Pasadena. They are in a large metropolitan area who by the sheer saturation of people would find it hard to NOT have a crowd. How about NJ, NH, DC, ...seems that they are on the way of becoming "the few".

  6. Some official figures for Pittsburgh, based on the parochial reports from the October '08 convention:

    Committed to the Episcopal Church- Parishes: 20
    Total active baptized members: 6,869
    Average total members per church: 345
    Total ASA: 1,984

    Committed to Southern Cone-
    Parishes: 54
    Total active baptized members: 12, 030
    Average total members per church: 223
    Total ASA: 5244

    These are current figures which are expected to change. Several significant parishes are currently reviewing their status in the Southern Cone and may well decide to remain with TEC.

  7. Great post, Mark. But don't assume that all of the people with Duncan, et. al, were once Episcopalians. Some of the groups in his coalition left the Episcopal Church before we were born. Some, such as the AMiA appeal to people leaving other denomination. And some, like many of those who voted to "leave" the Episcopal Church in northern Virginia were never Episcopalians in the first place.

  8. The CCP does not simply constitute presently departing dioceses and congregations. The AMiA, REC and CANA are already extant bodies that will be part of the new province...so the size of the CCP at present by ASA is over 200,000


  9. I belong to an Oasis congregation in, of all places, a rural Missouri college town. When you look at members, pledges and plate, we have grown modestly over the past eight years. It's just that we're small so no one notices.

    Which part of the liberal, revisionist agenda memo did we miss? The "we celebrate the Eucharist" part, or the "We have coffee in the undercroft after church" part? Or maybe it was the "we give to local charities" part, or the, "we celebrate the gains and losses, joys and sorrows in each other's lives" part.

    If we were supposed to be singing "YMCA" in place of the gospel hymn, I sure wish someone had clued me in on it, doggone it!

    Man, I miss all the good memos. I missed the "Gay agenda" memo, and I missed the "Gay marriage harms your straight relationships" memo, too...

  10. Kirkepiscatoid – Same here.

    I’m a member of a moderate sized parish in a small town in North Louisiana. We too celebrate the Eucharist. Say the Nicene Creed (without blinking.) Have experienced modest growth, have an ASA that goes up and down a bit, have a growing budget and tithe 10 % of our pledged income to outreach each year. As well as the other thing you mention.

    We too are not on the “mailing list” for the liberal agenda memos that others seem to be receiving.

  11. "The one and only diocese that is growing is South Carolina, and it by new converts rather than transfers. And yet there is no hesitation to continue to alienate them in the official mechanisms of TEC."

    I don't know, my little disgustingly liberal gay friendly parish here in godless New York is growing quite steadily, and most of the new members are young. We don't do "Pirate Eucharist" or "U2charist," but we do sing the Psalm every Sunday in Anglican chant (very controversial with some of our members), and our choir frequently sings mass settings by Palestrina and Monteverdi.

    I know that I will get the inevitable response "Well, that's in New York!" But, where do you imagine all these people here in New York are coming from? Do you think that they are all born here? Native New Yorkers, and cradle Episcopalians, are a small minority in my parish (and in the Diocese as a whole), and that includes our clergy. Most of our members, including myself, are from places like Texas, rural Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska, etc. They come to the city for a variety of reasons, career, education, to start a new life, but all of them come here for something that they couldn't get back home.
    Most of our parishoners are converts, most from Rome, but also large contingents from Eastern Orthodoxy, from the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches from the Lutherans, and a large contingent raised in fundamentalist churches (e.g. United Brethren and Jehovah's Witnesses). They found a welcome and a home with us that their former churches were unable or unwilling to provide.

    I'm certain that our parish is in no way exceptional in these regards, either in the diocese, or in the rest of the Episcopal Church.

  12. Sometimes it seems that there are more angry fundamentalists posting here than at Viagraland.

  13. Concerning your first post on this thread, Allen, short of a change in South Carolina law, the diocese of SC won't be attempting to move anywhere. The judge in the ongoing and interesting case of All Saints, Pawleys Island (the secessionist congregation, not the continuing Episcopal one) has ruled that "when a division occurs in a church, the congregation is answered by who is the representative of the church before it split." That is to say that property continues to be owned by the pre-split denomination. Are those elements in the diocese who are desirous of "realignment" prepared to kiss the property goodbye? Doubt it.

  14. I'm afraid that I just don't see any huge exodus out of the Episcopal Church, out of aging gray haired shrinking parishes singing "Kumbaya" and "Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore" that are the bread and butter of right wing lore.
    Granted all my evidence is anecdotal, but I see today what I've seen in the Episcopal Church for over 25 years, small but very vital congregations largely made up of converts from other churches. I've seen that not just here in New York, but in Kansas City, Dallas, Pontiac, and St. Louis. I don't see any punishment inflicted by the Church's members for choosing the "wrong" side in the Culture Wars. If anything, over the last 2 weeks (in this country anyway) I've seen the constituency most heavily invested in the Culture Wars, conservative white evangelicals, politically marginalized, and now the targets of a fierce reaction. Their one big victory in California with Prop 8 was won by a slim margin after huge investments of money and energy, and may only be temporary. The courts will probably throw it out, and another anti-gay ballot initiative might be defeated in the next election. I've been watching these initiatives for years, and I notice that the margin of victory for the religious right gets narrower and narrower with every election cycle, and I can remember back 30 years to Anita Bryant days.

  15. Counterlight:

    I said ..

    one and only DIOCESE.

    Apparently your positive results have yet to be passed along in your entire diocese. What are the folks there waiting on? Now's the time to prove that the Church of God's New Thing is truly God's new thing. Seems like your ideas would ignite your diocese to get more than 45% of its membership to show up. Any other suggestions that haven't been tried for the last few decades? Progressive, liberating, revisionism has controlled TEC for about 40 years now....uh, ..when is it going to take off?

  16. lapinbizarre,

    Right you are about South Carolina. Pray, then, that the Anglican Communion does not recognize another North American province. When it does there will be an exodus that the courts will honor such as in Virginia. TEC can't fight everybody...and then SC, Central Florida, etc. will leave. The crush of litigation will slow for a lack of clarity, funds, and will.

    It's coming.

  17. As I understand your argument, Allen, if, a few years back, Vonage had begun to offer telephone service to a state previously served exclusively by Southern Bell, and if a large enough number of Southern Bell customers had transferred their accounts to Vonage, then Vonage might legally claim ownership of all or part of Southern Bell's assets in that state. Is that how US Federal and state law operates, Allen?

    A month or two back, Robert Duncan had a low-key private meeting with the ABC. Shortly afterwards,at a press conference, Duncan belittled the authority of the ABC within Anglican Communion. This tells me all that I need to know about the likelyhood of the Anglican Communion's validating a schismatic North American province, Allen. I don't need to pray.

    As to the "crush of litigation", yes, it will slow, but it will slow as the secessionists and their Radical-Right sugar daddies realize that they are losing case after case in the law courts. The North Virginia case is in no way representative of the way in which the wind will actually blow through the court system.

  18. Allen,

    Here are some quotes from my posts, if you bothered to read them. I am confident that my parish is, in fact, more TYPICAL than exceptional of Episcopal congregations around the country.

    "I'm certain that our parish is in no way exceptional in these regards, either in the diocese, or in the rest of the Episcopal Church."

    "I see today what I've seen in the Episcopal Church for over 25 years, small but very vital congregations largely made up of converts from other churches. I've seen that not just here in New York, but in Kansas City, Dallas, Pontiac, and St. Louis."

    As for your triumphant sweeping victory in the Culture Wars where you get to plant your boot in the faces of those defeated hateful liberals and unspeakable perverts, I don't see it anywhere.

    If anything, I see a generational split growing in the ranks of white conservative evangelicals (and I'm sure very Anglo-Catholic Bishop Iker will find a happy home in the very Calvinist Southern Cone). Other conservative evangelical denominations, like the Southern Baptist Church, are leaking members out the back door faster than they can bring them into the front. Holy Mother Rome is very busy here in New York, and in many other dioceses, closing and consolidating churches; not my idea of expansion.
    And it seems to me that as for the whole right wing vision of America, the purified Christian Republic, the voters this year had other ideas.

    So, uh... when's the right wing victory party?
    Will you be serving empanadas?

  19. As for proof of declining evangelical membership, here it is straight from the Southern Baptists themselves.

    The Episcopal Church:

    Yes we can, and Yes we will.

  20. RobRoy and others fall into their usual illogoc even quicker than usual.

    "TEC is liberal. TEC numbers are dropping. Ergo, Tec is in decline because it is liberal."

    Newsflash. There is only one denomination in the US which is not declining. And even Roma acknowledges that it is immigration from predominantly RC countries which exempts them from the general trend.

    So tell me, RobRoy, are the Southern Baptists in decline because of their extreme liberalism? Is their gay agenda the root of Missouri Synods decline?

    Or, as usual, are you talking s**t*?

  21. orgelman noted:

    "We too are not on the “mailing list” for the liberal agenda memos that others seem to be receiving".

    Where HAVE you been? Haven't you seen the memo via the pronouncements of the prioriities and pushes of our Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and Integrity?

    From THEIR mouths to your church next year at GC '09.

  22. Yes, the Southern Baptists are in slight decline. And they are strategizing, planning, and working to turn that around.

    The Episcopal Church is in steep decline (14% loss in five years is steep -- no other way to look at it). And they are staying, "Well, other churches are in decline as well. So that's okay then."

    Which do you see has a brighter future?

  23. "Which do you see has a brighter future?"

    None Of The Above--the fastest growing denomination in the USA.

  24. The fact that every single religious denomination in North America is experiencing significant decline does not make it "okay."

    But it does put the lie to your fatuous contention that the decline in the Anglican provinces in the US and Canada can be attributed to your particular hobby horse.

  25. Fort Worth has 19,000 members and of those, 5,000 are remaining in the Episcopal Church so far. We have seen very little growth in the 25 years since our diocese's inception and Episcopalians here are eager to change that. Your numbers were a little high. Who would have thought in an area of high growth, the Diocese of Fort Worth would have only ONE new mission created in the last 25 years! I'll bet Gafcon is counting all of the people in the 4 dioceses purported to have left the Episcopal Church, even those people wishing to stay in TEC. (They did that when the Network and Common Cause were founded too.) There was nothing to sign to join, the Bishop decided that we were all automatically members whether we liked it or not.
    -Sarah from Fort Worth

  26. Good Father Malcolm:

    The fact that other religious denominations are in decline tells me absolutely nothing about why the Episcopal Church is declining at such an alarming rate. Sorry. Diversions do not provide answers.

  27. Folks, you're singing "Hail to Thee in the Wreath of Victory" insisting that you're about to march right over my gay corpse in triumph, and I just don't see it anywhere.

    You're proposing to create yet another denomination that says "Gays, liberals, and women are the devil's spawn, and we will see them all burn in the end, ha ha." That's a very crowded and competitive market these days, and the only thing new you have to offer is some very old version of the Book of Common Prayer.

    It's also a market that does not have a very bright future right now. If you really want to talk about a denomination in a tail spin, how about the Missouri Synod Lutherans? No one ever accused them of being too liberal... well, maybe the Wisconsin Synod (which is also shrinking and aging rapidly).

    It looks like you folks slept through election day. Sure, for almost 30 years conservative Catholics and right wing evangelicals were at home in the halls of power wielding tremendous influence, even over foreign policy. But, after 12PM on January 20th 2009, they're all going to be out in the political wilderness. The voters apparently have had enough.

    And that last hurrah out in California may well turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

  28. Counterlight wished..

    "It looks like you folks slept through election day...after 12PM on January 20th 2009, they're all going to be out in the political wilderness. The voters apparently have had enough".

    That's why those who voted FOR Mr. Obama voted overwhelmingly AGAINST redefining marriage? What wilderness will they go into come January?

  29. "That's why those who voted FOR Mr. Obama voted overwhelmingly AGAINST redefining marriage? What wilderness will they go into come January?"

    Since when did a 4% margin become a landslide oh wishful supremacist one?

    When do I get to vote on YOUR marriage?

  30. I don't think that issues concerning minority enfranchisement, who is and who is not fully human and fully a member, should ever be put up for a vote. The minority in question, by definition, will always lose, especially since it's the majority who created that minority in the first place (people set apart from the majority for any reason, skin color, religious belief, opinion, sexuality, left-handedness, stars on their bellies, etc., constitute a minority).
    Believe me, if the rights of those same black folk who voted against gay marriage were ever up for a vote, we'd still have segregated facilities, and Oprah would be riding the freight elevator of the Waldorf-Astoria along with the ghosts of Billy Holliday, and Jackie Ronbinson. And remember that the parents of the current President Elect did not have a legal marriage in 16 states when he was born in 1961.

    If anything surprises me about the California election, it's how WELL the gay kids did there. I can remember when initiatives like this used to pass routinely by 10% to 20% margins, and I've been watching these things for 30 years.

    God created us all, man and woman, gay and straight, in God's image. It's only those who would segregate who believe that God made mistakes.

  31. Counterlight opined:

    "When do I get to vote on YOUR marriage?"

    Sorry, God already settled that one....quite some time ago.

  32. Allen.. I need you to do something else. I'm taking you off line here.

  33. I think God can speak for Himself, and doesn't need Allen to speak for Him.

    And He seems to be saying some unexpected things these days. Apparently, He doesn't feel particularly bound to that Bronze Age script we wrote for him long ago.

    I will spare Fr. Mark any further grief and take myself off this thread as well.

  34. My dear RB, the constant assertion that TEC is declining because of its allegedly liberal leanings, policies and leadership would logically suggest that denominations with conservative leanings, policies and leadership would not be declining. But, in fact, every denomination in North America is declining.

    Now, I know some of you hidebound ideologues hate to let logic get in the way, but our old pal Occam suggests that if every single denomination in North America is in decline regardless of whether its leanings, policies and leadership are liberal, moderate, conservative, bolshevist or neo-fascist then perhaps the relative liberality or conservatism is utterly irrelevant.

    You really have no evidence at all to support your repeated contentions that TEC's decline is due to liberalism. Yet you all get really pi$$y whenever anyone points out that the emperor is a streaker.

  35. Malcolm, I've never claimed that TEC's decline is due to liberalism, and I don't believe that it is. It's due to its internal conflict. There's abundant evidence to show that. I've read the reports TEC has produced, and I suggest that you read them as well.

  36. BTW, from what I can gather, the Latter-Day Saints and the Assemblies of God are doing just fine, and in fact are expanding rapidly. It does not appear that each and every denomination in America is in decline. Even if they were, I would want to know the cause, and so would Occam, if he were to use his Razor.

  37. Yes, I agree it would be useful to analyze and identify the causes of decline.

    I'm sorry, RB, if I leapt to the conclusion that you were offering up the same specious analysis as many of the "conservatives."

  38. Malcolm+,

    I was a bit snarky in my response to you, so I'm not really innocent in this. I accept your apology, if you will accept mine.

  39. I'm sure you didn't intend to make that seem conditional. ;)

    All is forgiven.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.