US Episcopal Church Loses Nearly 35,000 Members in 1 Year

The number of active members of TEC decreased by 34,179 in 2016

“One factor in the decline was the liberal theological direction of the denomination, including its growing acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage. In 2003, when it appointed its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson, scores of congregations left the denomination.”

 

The Episcopal Church in the U.S. lost nearly 35,000 members last year, according to figures released this week by the denomination which has been on a decline for about a decade.

The number of active members of TEC decreased by 34,179 in 2016, according to the statistics released. In 2015, the denomination lost 37,669 members. The average Sunday worship attendance also decreased by 9,327 last year.

“The 2016 data reflects a continuation of recent trends, although rates of decline in such key figures as Average Sunday Attendance have decreased,” Canon Michael Barlowe, executive officer of TEC’s general convention, says in the report.

However, the figures note that the rate of decline is slowing, and, “Overall, congregational income through pledges and other offerings has remained constant.”

Over the last 10 years, the average Sunday attendance has fallen by a quarter, leading to the closing down of 37 parishes in the last year. TEC now has 6,473 congregations across the country.

One factor in the decline was the liberal theological direction of the denomination, including its growing acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage. In 2003, when it appointed its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Gene Robinson, scores of congregations left the denomination.

In a sermon in March, Bishop Maryann Budde from the Diocese of Washington acknowledged the decline.

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