Water Lilies Blooming on Easter 2011
Easter used to be a traditional time for baptisms, and the season got me to thinking about the future church, what with its embrace of the new sexualities and all, and the question came to mind, "Will TEc go extinct?" I know that some may consider that to be an inappropriate thought for Easter, but to be honest, Easter scares the devil out of me. We might be more comfortable with a God who stayed in the grave and didn't live among us, but this ever present God of Easter keeps opening our eyes to new directions, and one of the ways that we see those new directions is by paying attention to the works of God occuring in our daily lives, in the lives of our Parish, our Diocese, and our demonination.
Lo and behold, this eye opener came around last week from that usually reliable source, Statman.
From the comment section at MCJ (details in parentheses added for the uninitiated).
April 19, 2011
"...Surely, ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) is a big problem for TEC (The Episcopal church). But Infant Baptisms are much more alarming. From 2002 through 2009, TEC lost 19.3 percent of ASA but it lost 31.7 percent of Infant Baptisms. In 2009, the following dioceses had LESS THAN ONE Infant Baptism per church: E. Oregon, N. Michigan, and W. Kansas. It is absolutely depressing to sit in church for an entire year and not observe even ONE Infant Baptism. Statmann"
I went over to the Episcopal church's statistics pages and updated the numbers using 2010 data and teased out the numbers for "domestic" dioceses.
2002 data found here.
2002 ASA 869,065 (22,425 was in non domestic dioceses)
2002 Baptisms of children: 47,232 (2,237 were in non domestic dioceses and 44,995 domestic baptisms).
2010 data found here.
2010 ASA 724,789 (41,826 was in non domestic dioceses)
2010 Baptisms of children: 33,778 (3096 were in non domestic dioceses and 30,682 domestic baptisms).
So we see
A 19.45% decline in domestic ASA from 2002-2010, and
a 31.8% drop in Baptisms from 2002-2010.
Give Statman credit once again.
The ASA numbers may not be 100% accurate since we stopped using those handheld clicker type counters long ago, but the baptism numbers are probably valid.
I went back and checked out the numbers for the Diocese of Upper South Carolina (DUSC) to include burials and marriages and got the following,
406 children baptised in 2002 in DUSC
71 adults baptised in 2002 in DUSC
309 burials in DUSC in 2002
38154 burials in TEc Domestic Dios in 2002
171 marriages DUSC in 2002
18798 marriages in TEc Domestic Dios
1.5:1 ratio of DUSC baptisms to burials in 2002
2:1 ratio of DUSC burials to marriages in 2002
ASA of DUSC was 9103 in 2002
377 children baptised in 2010 (down 8.2%)
43 adults baptised in 2010 (down 39.4%)
317 burials in DUSC (up 2%),
30,853 burials in TEc Domestic Dios (a drop of 19.2%)
121 marriages DUSC (down 29.3%),
11,647 marriages in TEc Domestic Dios (a drop of 39.1%)
1.3:1 ratio of DUSC baptisms to burials in 2010 (a drop in this ratio is not a good sign).
2.6:1 ratio of DUSC burials to marriages in 2010 (a rise in this ratio is not a good sign).
ASA 8337 ( a drop of 8.4%) in DUSC from 2002
People will say that the drop in marriages and church attendance merely parallels the pattern seen in other old denominations, but that is an excuse that they will have a hard time passing along to the man that just walked out of the grave.
Could it be that young families seeking a safe, God fearing place to raise their future precious young Christians are using reason, tradition, and scripture, to vote with their feet?
There are still plenty of old people left in the oldline denominations to bury, but at the current rate of replenishment, there won't be enough new old people to pay the bills fifty years from now.
Our living God is warning us that we are headed in the wrong direction. Will we listen to His call to turn from the error of our ways, and to rebuke the words of the false teachers who would take us along paths of licentiousness and desires of the flesh?
Or will we heed his call to walk away from the way of sin and death, and instead become fruitful, multiply, and go out and gather all to Him?
Jesus' resurrection is a serious call for us to get out of our comfortable tombs and start producing flowers for His garden.
That call, to come out of my cave and walk with Him, sacres the devil out of me.
Sorry if I spoiled anyone's Easter.