Friday, October 17, 2008

Nobody's buying the Episcopalian myth (some amazing stats here)

Fr. Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm raised a very good point. Episcopal leaders keep telling Anglicans in other parts of the world that we (The Episcopal Church) have to embrace the homosexual movement in order to "evangelize in our context." (People won't listen to our message unless we are pro-gay).

But, Matt points out, even very liberal parts of the country (New York, for example), show terrible declines in Episcopal Church membership and attendance. And the Diocese of New Hampshire, with gay Bishop Gene Robinson, continues to shrink away.

In other words, the idea that celebrating homosexuality is a way to reach people for Christ and build up the church is a myth.

When confronted with this, advocates of the "new thing" will respond that they are "prophets" and that church shrinkage actually proves that they are faithful servants of God - the people who leave aren't good Christians.

So, which is it? Is the gay agenda a means to grow the church or shrink it? You can't have it both ways.

How about here in South Dakota? The most liberal areas should be the major University towns and the Cathedral in Sioux Falls. How are they doing with the "new thing"?

Calvary Cathedral, Sioux Falls: Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) down from 250 to 150 in less than a decade.

St. Paul's, Brookings (site of South Dakota State University): No 2007 report submitted. Diocesan journal lists "membership" (this is the high and fuzzy number - actual attendance is always much less) as 113. Served by a retired ELCA pastor and a locally ordained deacon.

St. Paul's, Vermillion (site of University of South Dakota): ASA 27 (twenty seven). Served by 3 (yes, three) clergy - married priest couple and a deacon. (Clergy provide some coverage to Reservation Chapels).

It is no secret that when your church tries to emphasize a particular group of people, you will lose some from another group. There is no perfect "inclusion." If you put all your effort into a church that is kid-friendly, you will turn off some folks who want a quiet, serene, intellectual church experience. If you build your church around recent Chinese immigrants, don't expect a sudden influx of Armenians.

And if you build your church around "gays and those who affirm them", you are choosing a very small, exclusive niche to serve. And that's what will be left - in a very few places with a very few people.


Scott Loftesness - Sioux Falls said...

Don't forget that one of the clergy in Vermillion is an ardant member of NARAL. She and one of the other priests from that parish appeared in clerical collars at the press coference a couple years ago showing how the Episcopal Church stands in support of murdering children. Not too population/growth friendly if you ask me. Pray for her soul.

27 ASA with three clergy? You gotta be kidding. There's one parish the bishop should be closing. Send all three of them out to the reservation. If they worked hard, they could cover three parishes each and help the diocese through tough times.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Church can't reach people with lies. The Church isn't about celebrating diversity and being gay-friendly. We are to celebrate Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, and only our adoration and obedience of HIM and can draw others to the Light.

God blesses and prospers HIS Kingdom, not our agendas (even ones that seem good in our eyes).