Here are a few of the findings that caught my attention:
- 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.
- 90% of Episcopal congregations reported having conflicts or disagreements in the last five years (up from 86% in 2000, but down slightly from 93% in 2005). 64% of churches reported at least one area of serious conflict.
- Of congregations that had serious conflict: + Some members left the church: 89%. + Some members withheld funds: 45%. + A staff member was dismissed or reassigned: 18%.
- Nearly the same proportion of congregations describes the current financial health of their congregation as "excellent" as say they are "in serious difficulty" (7% and 8%, respectively).
- About one third of parishes and missions reported that their finances are "excellent" or "good" in 2008. The proportion with excellent or good financial health declined from 56% to 32% between 2000 and 2005 and then remained essentially unchanged for 2008 (33%). the proportion in some or serious financial difficulty almost doubled from 2000 to 2005, increasing from 13% to 25% and then remained unchanged for 2008.
Here's what it all boils down to:
Aging membership + conflict + declining financial health + little interest in or understanding of evangelism = no viable future.Having heard the Presiding Bishop talk about the vitality of the Episcopal Church, one would never guess that we are in the state of crisis described by Hadaway.
One of my clergy colleagues sums it up well: "This is about life or death. Choose mission or die."