27 June 2007

Anglican news

Although this story has received the lion's share of the press coverage of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod, a more basic problem faces this historic church body: Anglican Church 'fiddling away while Rome is burning'. Though some media reports give the church a membership of 2 million, thus making it one of Canada's largest denominations, the reality on the ground is much different:

In 2005 the Anglican Church of Canada's House of Bishops was handed an internal study that said the church was losing 13,000 members a year, and that membership lists had shrunk by 53 per cent from 1961 to 2001.

Although several million Canadians identify themselves as Anglican on census questionnaires, the number of active Anglicans is far fewer and falling. Between 1961 and 2001, Anglican parish lists plunged from 1.36-million members to 642,000.

What is the cause of this haemorrhaging of the church's lifeblood? If a church has a weak grasp of the saving power of the gospel, people eventually will no longer bother with it. If it can manage only to become "ever more welcoming and inclusive" without calling members to live biblically faithful lives, it should not be surprised if many parishioners find little reason to tear themselves away from their newspapers or golf games on sunday mornings. One is struck by the irony of a church trying to be all things to all people while effectively alienating increasing numbers by failing to make any significant demands on them.

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