‘Wake-up call’: Canadian church hears statistics report on membership decline

Nov 13, 2019 by

by Tali Folkins, Anglican Journal:

The Anglican Church of Canada’s first reliably-collected set of statistics since 2001 show the church running out of members in little more than two decades if the church continues to decline at its current rate, the Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard Friday, Nov. 9.

“We’ve got simple projections from our data that suggest that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040,” the Rev. Neil Elliot, a priest for the diocese of Kootenay seconded in 2016 by the national church to collect a new set of statistics, told CoGS. Elliot, who reported on 2017 data collected from all of the church’s dioceses, also told the group about ongoing efforts to expand and diversify data collection.

The current projection should be taken especially seriously by Canadian Anglicans, Elliot said, because it is suggested by five different sets of church data, all collected in different ways: older data from 1961 to 2001; Anglican Journal subscriber data from 1991 to 2015; and three sets of data from his own survey of the dioceses as of 2017: the number of people on parish rolls, average Sunday attendance and regular identifiable givers.

“For five different methodologies to give the same result is a very, very powerful statistical confirmation which we really, really have to take seriously and we can’t dismiss lightly,” said Elliot, who gave his presentation remotely with the use of videoconferencing technology.

Two other findings, he added, suggest different outcomes. Data collection on the pastoral offices of baptism, confirmation, marriage and funerals show an even faster rate of decline. However, a demographic study of a small number of parishes in the diocese of Kootenay, he said, suggested that—because of the age ranges that Anglicans fall into—the church could lose only 50% of its members by 2040.

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