Parish fallout after General Convention 77 in the Episcopal Church

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Sean611, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    I was curious if there has been any "fallout" from GC77 at the local parish level for any of us Episcopalians? Sometimes, it takes a little while for "word" to get around about the happenings of the national church.

    I've noticed several strange things going on at our parish. First of all, over the past year or so, our parish has grown by about 15% (Sunday attendance was way up as well, we are small parish though), we have seen a boom and it is mostly young to fairly young families. That said, in the months after GC77, i've noticed that monthly attendance has slowly decreased to the point of being lower than any point since i've been a parishioner here. One of the new families I haven't seen for over a month and haven't heard mention of them and some of the life long parish members have been strangely absent as well. That said, these months are traditionally a bit "slower" for our parish than other times of the year.

    Further, I heard that one of the families (one that has been a member of the parish their whole lives) sent a letter of resignation to the parish. They didn't come much on Sunday, but were very involved in other Church organizations. Personally, I was shocked to see them go and nobody is saying much.

    Also, i've heard whispering of "financial concerns" being made by some parishioners. Is all of this just some kind of coincidence or does it run deeper than that? I don't have the answer, but it doesn't look very good.

    So, what has been the "fallout" at your parish, if any?
     
  2. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Sean,
    I'm sorry to hear about what is happening in your Parish. I suppose it will take awhile to determine whether the decrease in attendance is due to fallout from the GC.

    Surprisingly, I haven't seen any fallout in our Parish. As I posted on another thread, our Rector gave classes during the Summer on men, women, and God. He walked us through the Biblical view of marriage and why same-gender unions are not supported by Holy Scripture or the Tradition of the Church. Though, the same-gender union issue was only a small part of what he covered. He is giving the same class again now. I haven't heard any negative comments about his class or the fact that our Rector has a message on our Parish website noting that he will not perform blessings for same-gender unions. People are not talking about the events of the GC, at least not in classes or social events I've attended. Parish live is moving along with many active ministries.

    Also, surprising is that our membership is growing with many young families coming into the Parish. We recently added an additional Traditional service at 9:01 am, which makes 4 services Sunday morning, plus a 5:01 service in the afternoon, and a Spanish service in the evening. A few people left the Parish, because the choir was removed from the 11:00 service and added to the new 9:01 service. Yet, no one that I know of left because of the GC.

    So, Provisional Rite for blessing same -gender unions--not a reason to leave. Removing the choir from the 11:00 a.m. service---is a reason to leave. Go figure.
     
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  3. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    Anna, thanks for the reply and i'm glad to hear of the growth and success of your parish! You are so blessed to have such a Godly person as your Rector. My Rector is a great and Godly person, but is more of mind-set of "trying to appease everyone" rather than the straight forwardness that is sometimes needed. This is not in regards to theology as our Rector and parish is overwhelmingly traditional, but more along the lines of other day-to-day stuff.

    I'm just not sure what's going on, just seems like the rug has been pulled out from under us and it has happened quickly. Unfortunately, being so small to begin with, we can hardly afford whole families leaving. I'm not sure if it's personality conflics, GC77, or some other cause. It's just really odd to see a multi-generational Episcopalian family would up and leave the parish out of nowhere, especially a very active and involved family. The family was also pretty wealthy and i'm sure that they were pledging a rather large sum of money. I'm not sure what happened to the other family, they just all of a sudden quit coming.

    The whisperings of financial distress is perhaps the most concerning of all. I've never heard any such whisperings before, but i've long wondered at how such a small parish can be financially sustainable. Last Sunday, attendance was at about 20 and that's including the Rector, deacon, and acolytes. Further, 2 of those people are just family members who are visiting. If you take all those out, about 13 were actually sitting in the pews who are members of the parish. I hope this is all just some coincidence or something else, but it just doesn't feel right.
     
  4. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Wow, Sean, that is a small number. The loss of a wealthy family in a small Parish could definitely lead to financial distress. Have you considered asking the Rector why he thinks these families left?
     
  5. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely, it is something that I plan on discussing with our Rector tomorrow or during office hours this upcoming week. A few months ago, we were doing about 30-40 in the pews on the average Sunday. This number is still a little low, but for a small parish and small Church building, certainly not a number that sets off alarms. Ideally, i'd like to see our parish doing about 50-75 on the average Sunday, a goal that was in sight not to long ago now seems far away. Most members are terrible at evangelizing, a stereotype of Episcopalians that rings very true in our parish. I think we need to take a new approach and will hopefully have a meeting on evangelizing soon.
     
  6. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Sean,
    Let me know what happens, if you feel like sharing after meeting with your Rector.

    You are right about Episcopalians and evangelizing. We are on the opposite end of the spectrum from our Southern Baptist brethren. :p

    Our Rector had door flyers printed to show the additional worship services with an invitation to our Parish. He asked the congregation to take some to place on their neighbor's door knobs. Then he said run as fast as you can to avoid any personal contact, because we are Episcopalians and we don't do personal contact. The congregation, myself included, laughed. :p He then suggested we could also choose the option to personally invite our neighbors to Church. I didn't see a mad dash for the door flyers. I think most of them are still sitting there. lol.
     
  7. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    I sure will!

    I believe my parish would react very similarly to the flyers. :D
     
  8. Adam Warlock

    Adam Warlock Well-Known Member

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    Our attendance has dropped by about 10% or so, but that's really hard to assess during the summer months. We had a lot of Confirmations recently, so I don't think it scared too many people away. It seems like they see our parish as a safe haven. Immediately after GC, lots of people took a week or two off to pray and consider things, but most came back.
     
  9. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    We've been going up in ASA, praise to God.
     
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  10. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear about the church growthi in many of your parishes! Are most of the new comers new Christians?
     
  11. Adam Warlock

    Adam Warlock Well-Known Member

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    Update - the church was filled to capacity today, so I guess we're actually growing too! :D
     
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  12. Adam Warlock

    Adam Warlock Well-Known Member

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    At our church, a lot of them are new Christians. It's very exciting!
     
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  13. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    It's great to hear that ASA is up in all your parishes and membership in general!

    After talking to my Rector, I have quite a bit of news:

    1. The family that resigned is most likely going to Rome. RCIA classes are starting at the RCC parish in my community and they plan on being there. Basically, they just don't like the direction TEC is going in and they feel called to move on. The following is all speculation on my part, but this family is very involved in Republican Party politics, I suspect that TEC affiliation is not exactly helpful in many conservative circles. I'm saddened to see them go as they were stalwart defenders of orthodoxy and supportive of the parish Church and ministry in so many ways. It's ironic that the TEC was once known as the "Republican Party at prayer," how things have changed for this Church!

    2. The other family has not left. They are helping another Episcopal Church in another community close to our own. This parish has an ASA of about 8. They have also had extended family facing some health problems.

    3. Sunday attendance, yesterday, was 24 in the pews and just over 30 overall. This is almost double what it was last Sunday and is the highest it has been in several weeks. The number is still lower than where we were in the Spring and before, but the Rector has said that attendance always seems to bottom out a bit in the Summer/early fall months.

    4. The Rector is going to be starting a new program in the coming weeks that deals with getting people more involved in the parish and that will deal with evangelism. This is wonderful news and long overdue in my eyes. However, to be fair to our parish and parishioners, evangelism is very difficult in our community. Most people have been in their church communities for generations. Our community is a Southern Baptist/evangelical strong hold. Most people that want "liturgical" worship go to the giant 1200 member RCC parish or the local LCMS parish and they don't have to deal with the Episcopal craziness. It's an uphill battle for sure!
     
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  14. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Funny: all the parishes who keep members and grow steadily, despite GC77, are Anglo-Catholic! Every diocese in a crisis of deciding whether to leave, is evangelical or low church. At this rate, TEC will just be a swathe of liberal broad church bishops are the top, with Anglo-Catholics constituting the vast majority! :p
     
  15. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    What's really interesting is that TEC has the recipe for success and they know what it is, however, they have made their bed with this new age "historical Jesus" stuff that advocates that Jesus had no male parts and we must pay homage to the "gorillas of the fields" and the eucharist as a "meal of power." I don't think it's only an Anglo-Catholic thing, but it's preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and not being ashamed to do so. The leadership knows this and they know what the real answer is to our woes, but this is the same group that sells a parish Church for pennies on the dollar to a Muslim group over an Anglican group and that is happy to put revisionist Rectors in charge of healthy parishes and watch them shrink into oblivion. It's not about having a healthy growing Church to them, it's about pushing their agenda no matter who likes it or what it costs....plain and simple.
     
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  16. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Sean,
    Thanks for the update. Sounds like good news mixed with challenges.

    Good that your attendance is up. Glad to hear evangelism is a goal. I'd say, don't go with the door flyers. lol.

    Sad to hear you are losing a family to RCIA. You never know, though. They might change their minds by the end of the classes. Still, if there are political considerations, they may continue the road to Rome. Indeed TEC's "political standing" has changed.

    The U.S. has had quite a few Presidents who were Episcopalians. Quick check on Wikipedia shows 12.


    Times are a change'n. :p

    I know what you mean about the Southern Baptist/evangelical strong hold. The SBC I left is only a mile or so from my Episcopal Parish. The SBC has a membership of about 10,000. Our Parish has Sunday attendance of 400-500 with all services combined. Could be more, but we are small compared to the SBC, which has all sorts of amenities, including basketball courts, a fitness center with an indoor track, game area with pool tables, ping pong and all sorts of things. The Sunday music is on par with professionals. Not to mention many of these 10,000 Southern Baptists see Episcopalians as being in need of evangelizing.

    We must continue to lift up one another---and our Parishes in prayer.
     
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  17. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about AC strength in TEC. I don't know if these numbers are accurate but +Ackerman claims that ~90% of TEC Anglo-Catholics left for ACNA. If anything, TEC will be a thoroughly evangelical place in a few years.
     
  18. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Can you provide the source from Ackerman? From everything I heard, aside from the fairly AC Fort Worth, the overwhelming proportion of ACNA is evangelical. Far more, disproportionately, than TEC.

    TEC right now at least, has very few evangelicals; it is nearly evenly split between liberals and ACs, and in fact there's a large overlap between the two groups. I have a lot of experience with East Coast (NYC etc) churches, and they both have open married homosexuals in leading roles (rectors etc), and love nothing more than chasubles, incense, and citations from Roman theology. They frequently speak of Jesus as being 'really present in the relationship', everything must be thoroughly thuribled and incensed, etc.
     
  19. The Hackney Hub

    The Hackney Hub Well-Known Member

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    Stalwart,

    I'm not sure where I read (or heard) that, I'll have to dig.

    I should say, I meant conservative or traditional Anglo-Catholics. TEC is full of Affirming and Liberal Catholics. There are a handful of traditional Catholic places, most of which can be seen on this parish's webpage: http://www.sstephens.org/Links.html. Of the remaining conservative dioceses, Springfield, N. Indiana, Fond du Lac, Eau Claire, and Albany have the highest percentages of Anglo-Catholics, although Albany is experiencing an evangelical revival (I can give you more details of that in a PM if you want more info), South Carolina, Dallas, Texas, and Central Florida are known as more evangelical in churchmanship (with AC populations).
     
  20. Sean611

    Sean611 Well-Known Member

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    We must never forget that no matter how many parishes we've been to in a particular area, our individual experiences in TEC parishes and otherwise are still relatively limited. Most TEC parishes i've been to are middle of the road on high/low church elements.

    I've seen in other threads that Anglo-Catholics are often being characterized as being liberal, affirming, historical Jesus, and the most prone to these things. However, I believe that to be very unfair. We must not forget that it was largely Anglo-Catholics who could not stomach women's ordinations and left or forced the Church to protect those parishes/dioceses who would not ordain women (didn't last but worked for awhile). If Hackney's numbers are correct, then Anglo-Catholics apparently cannot stomach the changes occuring in TEC. Many Anglo-Catholics have also left for Rome and the East. Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals have a lot in common when it comes to orthodoxy, at least on these issues.

    We must also not forget that a new "liberal evangelical" theology is pushing its way into TEC and the larger Christian community in general. I just read an article a few months back on "progressive evangelicals" and their work in TEC. Now, I don't think that these "progressive evangelicals" are evangelical in any real sense and i'm sure you would agree. That said, "progressive Anglo-Catholics" are hardly Anglo-Catholic in any real sense of the word either. Trying to tie the "liberals" to a particular churchmanship isn't accurate, theological liberals are in every nook and crack when it comes to such things. That is why we must all put aside such small differences and be unified when it comes to the much larger issues facing the church.
     
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