Is the Episcopal Church Declining?
A frequent conservative critique of the Episcopal Church, USA has been that
it is a dying a church, losing membership to the point where it is an irrelevant
entity. They claim that the loss of members is a result of ECUSA itself becoming
increasingly liberal. As with much else claimed by the AAC, this is
a distortion of the truth.
- Fact: Since 1995 the membership of the Episcopal
Church has been increasing. In fact, efforts in the “Decade of Evangelism”
have reversed a consistent downward trend in actual membership numbers.
There were 159,603 more Episcopal communicants in 2000 than there were in
- Fact: The average Sunday attendance in Episcopal
churches nationwide increased 3.4% from 1991-1999. The average Pittsburgh
Sunday attendance decreased 3.3% in that same period.
- Fact: The growth rate of the Episcopal Church
has not kept up with the growth rate of the United States. From 1970-2000
the U.S. population grew 41.2% and the Episcopal Church membership declined
by 15.9%. However, since 1990 the number of ECUSA communicants has
- Fact: The Diocese of New Hampshire had a 47.5%
increase (from 9,154 to 13,499), and had the second highest growth rate of
During 1990-2000 the number of Diocese of Pittsburgh communicants went from
14,909 to 16,607 (an 11.4% increase), but the Sunday attendance declined
(see above) The diocese was ranked 44th in growth rate.
- Fact: The Diocese of Pittsburgh is now declining
in membership. Although the diocesan office describes us as a diocese
of about 22,000 members, the most recent figures (from the 2002 parochial
reports) show 16,486* communicants. In 2001 there had been 17,012
communicants. (* The Diocesan figure is 15,195, but there was no return
for St. Stephen’s, Sewickley, so the figure was adjusted to include the 2001
communicants for that parish.)
Note: The figures for all but the last fact were compiled from official
church reports by Louis Crew and are available on his web site.