Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where have all the people gone?

Just bumped into a new site called Arrivals and Departures. The host is listing congregations that have split from the Episcopal Organization since it decided that homosexuality was its primary mission in 2003. My guess is that the list of sorties is going to be waaaaaaaaaay longer than the list of "Arrivals" (new Episcopal churches started since 2003).

I've emailed to host to see if churches that just plain shut down will be counted as departures. For example, historic Church of the Messiah in Wounded Knee has simply disappeared from the Diocesan directory.

One of the tricks used by The Episcopal Organization leaders is to count any building as a "church", even if there's no congregation. As I've pointed out before, the Diocese of South Dakota claims some 90 churches, but with Diocesan average Sunday attendance at about 2,000, that would mean an average attendance of around 23. Since there are churches here known to have attendance much higher than 23, it means that a good number of the "90 churches" are empty buildings. (The Presiding Bishop uses this same word trick on a national level, claiming that only a small number of buildings have left the denomination rather than revealing the hundreds of thousands of people who've left.)

Hat tip: Innocent as Doves


David Handy+ said...

This is an angle worthy of further exploration. The annual parish reports should make it possible to track the actual attendace levels in terms of ASA.

As a SD native myself, I'd certainly be interested in knowing how the ASA of the D/Lakota congregations has fared in recent years, as opposed to the Anglo ones.

Just out of curiousity, how has the ASA of Good Shepherd improved since you came in late 2004, Tim?

And congratulations on having another thread over at SF devoted to the courageous work of the SD AAC chapter. You are a "flagplanter" indeed. I just posted a comment over at SF praising your letter and the upcoming AAC meeting on May 18th.

David Handy+ said...

A follow up idea. Forget the Indian Reservations for a moment. Just take Sioux Falls. Whereas the rest of the state is declining in population, and has been for years, Sioux Falls has been steadily growing. Yet although my hometown has DOUBLED in size since I grew up in Sioux Falls (in the 1960s and early 70s), there have been no new TEC churches planted there. And apart from Good Shepherd, the ASA at Calvary Cathedral and at Holy Apostles on the east side may actually have shrunk, despite the rapid growth in the area.

There's a very revealing story there, if anyone could look into it. It may form sort of a telling picture or microcosm of TEC's decline.