"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Can an Anglican Parish Grow Under the Present Circumstances?

For those who are familiar with the general decline in membership in TEC during the last few decades, I find this information about average Sunday attendance (ASA) at my home parish, St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas (the pro-cathedral of the diocese of Fort Worth), to be very interesting. I would remind readers that this parish, like this diocese, is soundly orthodox and has been very "up front" about the errors abroad in TEC over the last few years. At St. Vincent's the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached daily and traditional Christian morality is upheld without compromise. Might the fruits of this faithfulness be seen in the statistics below?

At the close of the first half of this year, our average Sunday attendance (which includes Easter – but not one “ice day”) is 418.

For the whole of 2006 ASA was 404.
For the whole of 2005 ASA was 392.
For the whole of 2004 ASA was 383.
For the whole of 2003 ASA was 367.
And ASA for 2002 was approximately 350.

Note that there has been an increase in "average Sunday attendance" at St. Vincent's of 68 persons since just before the Gene Robinson affair began in 2003, an increase of approximately 19%!


Blogger Julian said...

Are you sure you mean 68 PER SUNDAY? Hmm... you wish!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Timotheos Prologizes said...

I was confused at first. I think it means from 350 before Robinson to 418 (which is 68 more than 350) today.

11:08 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

True enough. The way I put it would mean an exponential increase, wouldn't it? Oops. Math is not my thing.

I will change it. Thanks, Julian.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Rowan The Dog said...

If we consecrate a few more homos you might even be able to get your attendance up there with some of the Baptists! Wooo Hooo. Go homos!
Linda McMillan

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The population of the Fort Worth area has EXPLODED in the last 3 years, which could also explain some of the membership increase, which seems modest to me, especially considering the US Census population numbers for 2003-2006.

Being Anglican in the US today means being EPISCOPAL (as the Episcopal Church is the ONLY US Church recognized as ANGLICAN in the US today. Downplaying your church's Episcopal affiliation and/or not taking steps to either unite or dissassociate from that membership could be contributing to your slow growth, not helping it.

Please note that there are laws in the US that provide for divorces between parents or spouses. SUCH DIVORCES ARE NOT PROVIDED FOR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, it is these relationships that are the composition of God's Church.

As of the 2006 U.S. Census estimate, Fort Worth had a population of 653,320. In 2003, Fort Worth had a household population of 551,000, according to the US Census. THAT IS A NET INCREASE OF 16 PERCENT. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PROJECTED POPULATION INCREASE FOR 2007. I would hope that the Church expects to AT THE VERY LEAST keep up with the general city's population growth, which is what has happened in this case.
I see LOTS MORE POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH HERE than a mere increase of 68 people.

Accentuating differences is not the best way to grow. A sense of family, (not a sense of CONSTANT ARGUEMENT and of UNCERTAINTY) is WHAT IS REQUIRED for growth, although it seems the current state of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is sadly in the latter state.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Anonymous -- in a time when an unprecedented number of TEC parishes are losing numbers and even closing, it is no small feat at all to keep up with a city's growth numbers. TEC closes on average (conservatively) 4 parishes a month. For St. Vincent's to keep up with Forth Worth growth is quite an accomplishment.

But St. Vincent has not been keeping up with Fort Worth. St. Vincent's is not in the City of Fort Worth. It is in the diocese of Fort Worth, but it is in the city of Bedford. So, your numbers are irrelevant. But, just for grins and giggles, let's look at some numbers that are:

For Bedford, Texas, The US Census Bureau shows that the growth rate between 2000 and 2003 is about 3%. The City of Bedford projects roughly a doubling of that rate for 2008. So a parish that exhibits a growth of 19% in Bedford, Texas, is growing roughly 3 to 5 times faster than the city itself.

The level of denial in TEC continues to amaze. FW is one of only two diocese in TEC to post real growth in recent years (South Carolina is the other), and yet our anonymous friend deigns to lecture it on how to really effect growth. He sees LOTS MORE POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH. Indeed.

That's funny. And kind of sad.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People in the Fort Worth Metroplex think NOTHING of going up to 50 miles or even more to go to church. The Fort Worth/Dallas/Arlington area is not like up North, where neighborhoods are close-knit and heavily populated. EVERYONE here drives a car. Public transportation is scant at best. Walking to work, church, the grocery store, or most other locations is not feasable for most people because these places are not close to our homes(and it is just too hot to walk in the summer months).

At my local Fort Worth church, 60 percent of the pledging members live outside the zip code of the church. I'll bet that if you called the secretary at Saint Vincent's and asked how many members were actually residents of Bedford, the answer would be a significant amount lower than the total number of members. I'm sure that the members of Saint VIncent's who live outside Bedford do not appreciate you counting their number as "irrelevant," Dave. Also, Dave, you quote Bedford numbers for 2000-2003. I quoted Fort Worth numbers from 2003-2006, a time when there was more substantial growth in the metroplex.

We live in the age of the drive-thru church. In fact, several of my friends who live in Fort Worth drive to Grand Prairie (about 40 miles) every Sunday to go to church and think nothing of it. To say people from other parts of the area can't, don't, or are not allowed to join a church in Bedford is incorrect. Also, Saint Vincent's is a cathedral, which is attractive to those who want the prestige of knowing that Saint Vincent's was chosen by the Bishop to have that title. I would think that alone would be a factor in membership growth. (It has a prestige that other churches in the diocese do not have.)

I did a little study of the churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, using membership numbers submitted to the Episcopal Church. I found out that the larger a church in Fort Worth's reported membership number, the smaller percentage of weekly attendance there was. In churches with less than 400 members (within the diocese of Fort Worth), average weekly attendance was about 70% of the overall membership. In churches with more than 1,000 members (in the Fort Worth Diocese), average weekly attendance was on average 30% of the overall membership.

I am not accusing Saint Vincents' of this, but I wonder how many churches in the Fort Worth diocese are considered to have over 1,000 members simply because they have not purged their membership rolls of those who no longer attend regularly or make a pledge?

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saint Christopher's Fort Worth has gained about 20 new attendees (per Sunday) over the last three MONTHS (not years). Not bad for the summertime eh... That's about a 10 percent increase over JUST 3 MONTHS! This was mainly due to a former church closing (the fromer members of Holy Cross, Burleson FINALLY found us).

In regard to my earlier comment, I was simply saying that once the conflicts are over and things "get back to where everyone is basically in agreement," no matter what that "agreement" is, numbers will certainly grow.

9:27 PM  

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