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  1. One thing these numbers show is that the Episcopal Church is a church of small congregations. The figures show that 56% of Episcopal congregations have 200 members or less, that the median size of a congregation is 164, and only 16% of congregations have more than 500 members. Our median average Sunday attendance is only 69. This confirms what I’ve always believed, that the core of the Episcopal Church is all the small congregations in small towns in America, the vast majority of which are still loyal to the mainstream church, not the big evangelical Episcopal mega-churches like Truro and Falls Church which have gone over to the dark side.

  2. That’s the real question, Niall. What I have always written here is that the real reason for the decline in all the mainline churches is because as a society we have made going to church and being a member of a church far less important for business and professional purposes than we ever have in the past, and frankly, many members of mainline churches chose their particular church with these things in mind.

    The Episcopal Church needs to do more to develop its current youth into good churchmen and churchwomen, and needs to reach out to those young people who share our views of the world, which should be a good number of them. After all, we embody many of the ideas young people are supposed to be interested in: care for the environment, civil rights for gays and lesbians, justice for poor people in the world, and working for peace. We ought to be hip, but alas there’s that whole tweed thing; I suspect we never will be.

  3. Your explanation may be true, but I have another. The more like secular society a church is, the less reason people have to attend it. Because, you know, why not just go to Starbucks instead?

    It’s like a told a Catholic friend of mine recently. If all modern Catholicism (at least in the US) is, is psychotherapy and social work, why on earth do I need to go to a Catholi church? I can get both of those directly, without having to listen to a lot of really bad singing in the process.

  4. True, Niall. I suppose listening to the cadences of the Book of Common Prayer is considerably better than the monstrosity that passes for a Catholic mass these days, and there is the whole tweed thing, but I take your point. The Episcopal Church used to be one of the symbols of a subset of the middle and upper middle classes who wanted to add some social cachet to their money, but that has fallen by the wayside now, too. As far as I can tell, today we’re left with old money (which is fading fast), Anglophiles, and the merely eccentric.

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