Episcopal Church membership continues alarming decline

Episcopalian Church membership continues its alarming decline as the denomination lost 37,669 members in 2015. Forty-three parishes have also been closed.

According to the statistics released by the Episcopal Church Office of Research, its membership decreased by 9 percent in the past five years. In 2011, the church reported having 1.9 million active members. The number has decreased to 1.7 million by 2015.

(Wikimedia Commons/AgnosticPreachersKid)St. John's Episcopal Church in downtown Washington, D.C.

Average church attendance lowered by 12 percent in the past five years and 26 percent in the last 10 years. Despite the decline in church attendance, the average pledge has increased by 0.7 percent from $2,626 in 2014 to $2,707 in 2015.

Jeffrey Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy noted that the denomination continued to decline despite the lack of congregational departures that year.

The dioceses that reported large membership losses include New York, Maryland, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Western Kansas. Overseas dioceses including those in Taiwan and Ecuador have also reported large losses in membership.

A report from 2015 stated that many factors were considered for the decline or growth of each church which included the congregation's demographic, setting, identity, worship, activities and leadership. Churches in newer suburbs are more likely to grow than those in rural areas and small towns.

The report also noted that most members of the Episcopalian Church are 65 years old or older. Seniors make up 31 percent of its members. About 24 percent are aged between 50 to 64. Adults aged 35 to 40 make up 19 percent. About 16 percent of the Church members are children and youth. Only 10 percent of its members are young adults aged 20 to 34.

The Church of England has also reported a decline in attendance. It was revealed last January that the weekly attendance of church activities has fallen to 760,000 which is less than 2 percent of England's population. John Spence, the finance chief of the Church, expects the decline to go on for the next three decades.



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