New stats to analyze and argue about

The latest statistical study of the Episcopal Church is now online.

A couple of hard facts about our future:

A majority (62%) of Episcopal parishes and missions report that more than half of their members are age 50+.

Episcopalians tend to be older than the general population. Overall, 27% of Episcopal members are age 65+, as compared to only 13% of the U.S. population in 2008. The Episcopal Church has proportionately fewer children, youth and younger adults.

And a puzzling section about ideology:

Episcopal congregations are varied in their theological outlook. However, relatively few say that [they] are considerably more liberal or considerably more conservative than other Episcopal parishes. Most are either “right in the middle” or somewhat more conservative or liberal.

Theological Liberalism & Conservatism
(Compared to Other Episcopal Congregations)
Considerably more liberal, 9%
Right in the middle, 41%
Considerably more conservative, 6%
Somewhat more conservative, 21%
Somewhat more liberal, 24%

Conservative Episcopal congregations were much more likely to have experienced serious conflict during the last five years over the ordination of gay clergy than moderate or liberal congregations.

Congregations that are considerably more liberal were most likely to grow, followed by congregations that are considerably more conservative.

Is this information helpful? People are setting themselves to the left or right of an unestablished middle. That doesn't seem particularly useful. The business about growth at churches that are "considerably more" liberal or conservative than other churches is interesting, however, as it suggests that churches with strong identities are the ones that grow.

Comments (1)

Naughton wrote: "it suggests that churches with strong identities are the ones that grow."

Maybe. My theory is that the extremes are picking up those who are fleeing parishes in conflict and looking for others who think like they do. Living in tension is hard. People are self-sorting.

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