Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Do You Get When You Squeeze a Turnip?


David Virtue's breakdown of the Episcopal Church money shakedown was posted on Catholic Online on 12/04/2008.
The source for David's data is the Episcopal Church's web site which recently updated the financial and membership stats to include 2007. You can find the data HERE.
He starts his comments as follows,


"Across the country, diocesan attendance figures show massive decline. Latest statistics for attendance in 2007 reveal that almost 100,000 fewer people are attending domestic dioceses than in 2003. Many dioceses are down 20%+ since 2003. In short, at least 1 in 5 Episcopalians has left The Episcopal Church."

This is followed by an evaluation of several diocesan budgets from around the country. He did not address our diocese directly.

But what about the Diocese of Upper South Carolina? Here is the breakdown in Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) for the past 10 years,

Year-------ASA
1997-------9278
1998-------8984
1999-------9021
2000-------8969
2001-------9055
2002-------9103
2003-------8722
2004-------8631
2005-------8468
2006-------8755
2007-------8439

I was under the impression that South Carolina as a whole was increasing in overall population. There are a number of ways of working with numbers, and I had my own peculiar method in mind because of this question: How does the ASA decline compare to the population statistics for the EDUSC region of South Carolina? In order to do this I had to pull out the population data for the counties included in the EDUSC.

Here are the population estimates for 1997 and 2007 that I abstracted from the State of SC statistics pages here and here.

EDUSC County--1997-------------2007 (est.)

Abbeville--------25,308-------------25,457
Aiken------------138,080------------152,307
Anderson-------159,623------------179,981
Cherokee--------50,070-------------54,015
Chester----------33,024-------------32,531
Edgefield--------22,896-------------25,435
Fairfield---------22,833-------------23,333
Greenville-------361,184------------428,243
Greenwood------64,990-------------68,259
Kershaw----------49,713-------------58,168
Lancaster--------58,958-------------73,393
Laurens-----------66,517-------------69,582
Lexington-------203,873------------243,270
McCormick--------9,767-------------10,098
Newberry---------35,386-------------37,633
Oconee------------63,735-------------70,753
Pickens-----------106,242------------116,003
Richland--------310,504------------357,734
Saluda------------18,442-------------18,748
Spartanburg----246,830------------275,534
Union-------------30,263-------------27,770
York(us)---------152,996------------208,827

Totals-------2,231,234----------2,557,074

Okay, here is my calculated ASA/POP:

From 1 ASA (average Sunday attendee) for every 240 persons in the general population to 1 ASA for every 303 persons. I would estimate if the Episcopal Church had a flat growth rate, the ASA should have been 10,634 in 2007 instead of 8439.

This is roughly a 20% drop in ASA corrected for population growth.

So much for the decade of evangelism. Mea culpa?

I doubt we will be hearing about this from EDUSC.org.

The EDUSC may also want to update the figures presented on its Web site for the numbers of members in the greater Episcopal Church to 2.2 million worldwide (2.1 million in the US) down from 2.4 million worldwide in 2003.

The numbers indicate both a failure of Episcopal evangelism and a problem with loss of members. When evaluating a disaster, root cause analysis is useful. I have some thoughts, but I will end with David Virtue's summary conclusion,
"Perhaps Episcopal Church officials will reconsider their "mission" of pursuing Millennium Development Goals and suing churches. Throwing former members out on the street with nothing, is not really what Jesus would do, and it's time to re-evaluate their approach."


"At a deeper level, the decline indicates that theological liberalism is a cancer that is eating away at the Episcopal body politic and that no amount of money will ultimately keep it together. The Episcopal Church's "respectable unbelief" - Jesus is "a way" not "the way" ...truth and the life, touted by the Presiding Bishop will only lead more people to leave. After all, if you don't know what you really stand for, why should anyone follow what you fall for?"

Okay what do you get when you squeeze a turnip?


A smaller turnip.




Just call me Turnip Juice.

3 comments:

  1. Your observations are true across the board. Denominations which hold fast to spiritual absolutes and longstanding doctrine; those that refuse to compromise are the ones that continue to attract members. Frankly, if what I do or believe doesn't matter in the long run, I'd just as soon play golf on Sundays.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was curious as to how ECOOS stacked up using the methodology above. Tapping into the official Episcopal reports for the last 10 years as well as RHEDC population figures, here is what I found:

    From 1 ASA (average Sunday attendance) for every 647 persons in the general population in 1998, ECOOS managed to get 1 ASA for every 899 persons in 2007. If ECOOS had a flat growth rate, the ASA should have been 263 instead of 189 in 2007.

    This is roughly a 28% decline in ASA, adjusted for population growth in our area.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous3:40 PM

    I am not a rocket scientist, but I get it. Les folks going to the "cult"

    ReplyDelete