2011 saw membership growth in 33 dioceses

Thirty-three diocese of the Episcopal Church showed membership growth in 2011 according to statistic released today by The Research Office of the Episcopal Church

Among the findings in the media release from the Office of Public Affairs:

- In 2011, membership in the Episcopal Church is 2,096,389 with 1,923,046 in the domestic (50 U.S. states) dioceses and 173,343 in the non-domestic (non U.S. states) dioceses.

- Twenty-seven domestic dioceses showed growth in membership in the past year: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Dallas, Fort Worth, Maine, Maryland, Navajo Missions, Nevada, North Carolina, Northern Michigan, Northwest Texas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Quincy, South Carolina, South Dakota, Southeast Florida, Southwestern Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Tennessee, West Missouri, Wyoming.

- In the non-domestic dioceses, growth in membership was marked in six dioceses: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador-Litoral, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Venezuela.

- The Average Sunday Attendance table shows a total for the Episcopal Church of 698,376, with 657,837 in the U.S. dioceses.

- The largest active congregational membership in a domestic diocese remains St. Martin’s, Houston this year marking 8,480.

Comments (11)

I would love to hear people's thoughts on why these dioceses grew. And local knowledge of the situation in these dioceses would be much appreciated.

I am just conjecturing here, but I wouldn't be surprised if three of the four reorganizing dioceses grew because they are bouncing back after losing large numbers of members to ACNA.

I suspect that dioceses in the south where church going is more normative than elsewhere in the country are typically more likely to grow than dioceses elsewhere. But that doesn't explain why some southern dioceses grow and some don't.

The growth in the heavily urbanized dioceses of Maryland and Washington is intriguing, as is the growth in some of the largely rural western dioceses.

Who can help us begin to understand what is happening better?

Remember, this growth occurred in 2011, so it won't be useful to read backwards from initiatives begun either late in that year or in 2012.

I'm part of this statistic. I was received into the church 30. April, 2011. :)
As a disenfranchised, disillusioned Roman Catholic I had been attending the Episcopal Church locally for several years. What finally got me to make the jump was a very proactive pastor who orchestrated the necessary arrangements (and even drove me to the cathedral for the service) and a loving warm community at St. Elizabeth in Zephyrhills, FL. My church community was and 'is' active in my life. As a Roman Catholic I was mostly just a ghost who appeared each Sunday to take communion then disappear for a week.
I was received on a Saturday morning...the next day after the 10am liturgy I walked into the coffee hour and was greeted with the words..(from Bette) "I smell a new Episcopalian here!" LOL
there was a cake and an even warmer sense of community than before. I serve on the vestry now and am active in the life of the church. What brought me in was first the sense of acceptance, of inclusion they made me feel not just that they wanted me but that I was a part of them of US of the church... I wish I could communicate this better.

One thing that we need to consider about dioceses in the American South is that the states around them are growing in population generally. Some are doing well economically (or at least better), and all have been picking up numbers of retired persons moving from more industrialized states in the North.

Marshall Scott

I just read through the "stats" page on TEC website for the 2010-2011 analysis. In my own Diocese of Arizona, we saw a membership decline of about 7%. Interestingly, the ASA, however, was stable and actually increased slightly. I wonder how to interpret this? Perhaps deaths of older, non-attending members? "Cleanup" of church rolls? Perhaps more people are "attending" without necessarily "Joining?" Interesting implications of all of these, I think.
In the parish in which I am "helping out" as organist, a "reviving" Anglocatholic parish in a somewhat disadvantaged area of town, we have grown significantly in ASA, but I must admit, that I am not sure how many have taken the "step" of "joining" officially. Is the latter important? Do "attending" but "not joining" persons contribute financially to the church to as high a degree?

I think a couple of factors are involved...
one, I think many in the Episcopal Church realized that in an effort to be inclusive we stopped having something unique to say about Jesus. We are becoming better evangelists.

two, we have closed down a number of churches, larger churches tend to grow the stats people will have to say if this is a factor.

three, Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday so Christmas Eve numbers bumped overall ASA up.

four, we have hit bottom...for now. In the next 20 years half our congregations will be dead. We have a window. We better start growing some churches or in about 10 years it is going to get really bad.

Hmm, looking at this a little more closely, if you established some very minimal standard for growth that tried to account for fluctuations based on flukey things, the numbers of dioceses that actually grew falls significantly. Let's say you set .75 percent as your standard. How many domestic dioceses could be said to have grown?

Not that there isn't good news here. Just not as much as I originally thought.

The individual church charts are up, and what I see in Arizona is that there are several churches, most notably Nativity Phoenix, which are powering the ASA bump-up. Looking around my neck of the woods I'm seeing a pattern of stability, with small increases or decreases. Domestic ASA hardly changed at all, up 0.008%; I have to think that we're going to lose some ground on that when the 2012 numbers come out due to the Christmas bump last year.

One thing that is definitely helping the numbers is that the parish and diocese departures are, for the moment, in abeyance.

A look at the Fast Facts discloses less of a reversal, unfortunately. The "+/-10% change" values have hardly budged in five years, and median ASA has only dropped slightly. The trend in parish closings, however, continues unabated. Last year was the smallest loss in four years, but we've still lost between 0.9% and 1.6% of our parishes every year, for a four year loss of 4.5% of domestic parishes.

Ack, bad link: Fast Facts are here.

My parish here in VA is doing well, which is telling, as we are at ground zero for the whole CANA issue. Our secrets? We're friendly, inclusive, not at all uptight, have a beautiful church and and services, and we do some real good in the community.

Eric Bonetti

I wouldn't put too much weight on change over 1 year, especially where, as Everett pointed out, Christmas fell on a Sunday and may skew the ASA. I would rather see 5 or 10 year trends.

Certainly, the re-organizing dioceses should be growing as they get their feet back on the ground (but I am really concerned about the steep drop in ASA in Fort Worth). Dioceses in the South and Southwest should be growing as population increases, and I fear that they are not growing proportionally with population.

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