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Monday, March 22, 2010

"one of the saddest stories of the last generation, period."

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."

6 comments:

Jessica said...

No kidding. Not to mention that - good a thing as ACNA is - it's not big enough yet to be a solution for everyone. There are a lot of us orphaned Anglicans about, too far from an ACNA parish to be able to attend an Anglican church.

Thanks for posting this.

Amy said...

Yet another call for grieving and repentance...

Papa Bear said...

I'm a member of an ACNA church. Most of our members, including our priest, catechist and deacons, are former Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. So, while I'm all for what the ACNA is doing, I don't see many people leaving the ECUSA for the ACNA in this part of the country. Most of those that do were only in the ECUSA briefly.

What I do see is a few cradle Episcopalians becoming Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, or some other denomination, and many more leaving Christianity entirely.

stephanie said...

Married to an Episcopal priest, both in love with Jesus, grieved by the behavior of our national church, but also quite abandoned as one by one orthodox believers in the historic faith abandon ship... we are blessed with a moderate bishop, and i'm sure it's more difficult in a diocese that's divided... but we believe that we ARE the remnant in this denomination that is in such decline and trouble. we will hold fast to the word of life as the people around us are being asked to consider the authority of scripture for the first time - as we invest in relationship with Jesus and with one another, we are seeing scales fall from people's eyes. it's thrilling! i only write to remind you that there are faithful, Christ-loving-and-exalting folks who have remained within TEC and have no plans to abandon ship.

Blessings...

Amy said...

It seems much the same here in our area Papa Bear.

Stephanie,
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It is so encouraging to hear of the work God is doing! We too are blessed to be at a vibrant, orthodox and influential church in TEC. We are seeking a new rector so there is some trepidation about the future, but we are trusting for God's leading and my husband is on the vestry so we are hopeful too. I will lift you up in prayer for added strength and power as you minister during this Holy of Holy Weeks! May you continue to be a light for Him!

Papa Bear said...

Whatever its original intention, the ACNA, or at least Light of Christ, has become not a lifeboat for Episcopalians (although St. Michael's has sent spies to find out what we're up to), but a mission to the unchurched and door into the Anglican Communion for evangelicals who are drawn to sacramental worship, but feel they cannot join TEC without condoning sin. My roots are Baptist. We attended St. Michael's for three years, but never joined for that reason.

Stephanie, if you're the Stephanie I'm thinking of, I've read your blog, but I've lost the link. Could you post it in the comments here, or send it to me? When I click your profile, I only get the Nashotah web site. (You and Scott were at St. Michael's? If so, you came about the time we left. I've heard him preach. We certainly didn't leave because of him.)

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