The Empty Church: What Has Happened to Episcopalians?


This book and Via Media make the same point: “New numbers reveal that the collapse of the Episcopal Church dramatically accelerated in the last ten years.
“The denomination is literally falling apart, with attendance down 25% between 2000 and 2010. . . . The numerical decline, bad as it is, matters less than the collapse in the moral authority of the church. The Episcopal Church has made many controversial pronouncements on social issues and national security policty; at the latest General Convention the church declared that transgendered persons cannot automatically be barred from the priesthood.
“One can agree or disagree with some of these individual decisions, but what is striking over time is the decline in the moral weight of the church. It use to matter what the Episcopal Church thought of this or that social issue. Other mainline Protestant churches and many social and political leaders followed its theological and political debates.
“Now, basically, no one outside the dwindling flock in the pews really cares what The Episcopal Church says about anything at all. The General Convention can pass a million resolutions, and nothing anywhere will change.
“No one is even really angry anymore at anything the Episcopal hierarchy does; at most, there is a sigh and a quiet rolling of the eyes. Soon, there will not even be that.
“It’s an extraordinary decline in an institution that a generation ago was still one of the pillars of American life. At this point the disaster appears irretrievable; those running the church are determined to run it into the ground and it is hard to see how that can change.
For Anglicans, the theological and demographic collapse of their church is a bitter blow.”