From Joseph Bottum at First Things:
"Meanwhile, Episcopalians—sometimes unkindly called the Gene Robinson branch of U.S. Anglicanism—dropped 3 percent in 2008. That doesn’t sound like much, admits Warren Cole Smith at the website of
World magazine, but apparently it is the largest membership drop any major denomination has experienced in a single year. For those keeping a running total, the Episcopal Church now has slightly fewer than 2 million members in 7,000 parishes. That’s down from about 3.5 million in 1965—a bit more than a 40 percent decline. Following Martin Marty’s admonition above, though, we are not “rejoicing in the missteps or misfortunes of others,” just marking them out.
Smith, however, is somewhat . . . well, gleeful is not the word. Perhaps “resigned but not grieving” does the trick. “Don’t grieve the demise of the Episcopal Church,” he says. “God has preserved a remnant. And the coming together of the various ‘continuing Anglican’ churches under the [Anglican Church in North America] organizational structure is one of the major religious developments of this year, a development that will likely resonate for many years to come.”
While that may be true, we do, nonetheless, grieve. The great decline of a once-vibrant Protestant mainline church is one of the saddest stories of the last generation, period."