"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, January 07, 2009

Attendance Is Up At St. Vincent's Cathedral

Defying the expectations of some, attendance at St. Vincent's Cathedral actually increased in the year 2008. Despite turmoil in the national Episcopal church and uncertainty in the run up and aftermath of our diocesan vote to leave TEC and realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone more people attended our parish in the year 2008 than had for many years.

Our Average Sunday Attendance in 2008 was 417. That is up seven worshipers from the year before (1.7%). That is not an enormous jump in attendance, admittedly, but it continues the "tradition" of an increase in ASA of about 2% per annum that has been the rule here for the last five or six years.

And that trend seems to be continuing even more strongly in the last few weeks. Last week (the second Sunday of Christmas), for example, saw just shy of 490 people attending our Sunday worship.

May God give us the grace to continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ effectively.

Above you will see a photo taken of the early mass on Christmas Eve.


Blogger Julian said...

You know I'm more or less in agreement with you about what needs to happen in regard to Anglicanism in North America and delighted with the growth of your congregation, but might I suggest that maybe the turmoil actually motivates people to attend in some way? People feel like there's stuff at stake - is it all that surprising? What would surprise me would be if attendance stays up when things quiet down.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Jill C. said...

I wouldn't be surprised if you have some visitors coming over from the Dio. of Dallas and deciding to stay. Even with gas prices going up this week almost 20 cents a gallon, you still have integrity and positive association on your side. (Personally I think the orthodox who want to remain in TEC are kidding themselves!)

4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now see, you guys probably never even missed me when I disappeared from St. Vincent's back in '04... LOL. (OK, maybe Fr. Jones and a couple of friends did.) But it looks like you had plenty of folks to take my place.

Ah well... Somewhere along the way, I'll drop by for a visit. I've done so perhaps three times since I left -- for an ordination reception, a Stations of the Cross service, and one year joining a St. Vincent's friend for VBS.

It would have to be a pretty unusual reason, and not for a Sunday Eucharist (I can no longer take communion in an Episcopal Church anyway). And especially since I'm in Catholic formation (RCIA), it wouldn't do well for me to take part in Anglican theology classes or Bible studies.

But perhaps, maybe (and I'll have to really think hard about this), I MIGHT could come to the Evensong service on the 25th that you're having, belatedly, for St. Vincent's Day. After all, when I left the Cathedral I took Vincent with me as my personal patron saint (an interesting story behind that one). So the Evensong service would be as good a reason as any. But no promises. And if I did come, I certainly would skip the parish meeting, which has nothing to do with me anyway.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how many of these follow you to the gymnasium/storefront when the Cathedral is legally returned to TEC control. Not too many I'll bet.

7:04 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

In the unlikely event that should that happen, I would expect at least 80%--probably more--would head with us to the gym down the street. This congregation, anon, is committed. Make no mistake.

7:07 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Obviously my percentage remark above refers to folks who are regular attendees, not the Easter and Christmas attendees who swell every church's numbers on those feasts. Those who have stuck with us for the last five years would surely not turn up at the empty building for a service led by a TEC clergyperson on the Sunday after such a hypothetical court judgment, if that is what anon's remark is implying. I can assure you of that! (It is interesting to speculate, but I suspect a TEC St Vincent's would have trouble topping an ASA of 75, and virtually all of those would be people who have seldom or never darkened our door in years--probably mostly folks from other parishes who attended TEC St. Vincent's just to "make a point". Still, I am fairly certain this will never come to pass. Our community will be worshipping in the space we built for many years to come.)

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unlikely event", "fairly certain" - you certainly don't sound too sure. And I wouldn't be either, the way the legal wind is blowing. As for numbers - you'd be surprised how many will think they've no problem moving (or say to you they have no problem) until they actually have to do it. Especially leaving the prestige of a cathedral to become just another storefront denomination. That's when the rubber hits the road.

As it is, Fort Worth's ASA's aren't that impressive - 39% in 2007. There seems to be c.11,000 members in the diocese who obviously aren't that enamoured with the regime. Time will tell...

7:45 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

Anon, I can assure you that you are barking up the wrong tree here. This parish has been kept fully informed of developments over the last 5 years and they are committed to our community together. I doubt many, if any, worship here because of "prestige." In the weeks since our vote I know of literally ONE person who stopped coming. I really don't believe hardly any of these folks would come to the St Vincent's complex to attend a service presided over by a TEC loyalist. We could manage, if necessary, quite well in a gym.

BTW, don't mistake my language for serious doubt about the legal outcome. As a former attorney, I tend to include the customary "CYA" words out of force of habit when predicting courtroom outcomes. I am pretty darn sure we will triumph.

11:06 AM  
Blogger texanglican said...

And please don't chide me for using the "triumph" with regard to a potential lawsuit. I very much hope wiser heads prevail and this business can be fairly concluded out of court.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's wonderful that your church is full! I wish every church was full. We have many church's because we are diverse human beings and God speaks to us in different ways, thus the many denominations.

We will all be ok when we stop worrying and hurting the other side. Your congregation may lose the church but you are correct, you can still "triumph" in a strip shopping center or a gym, just like many Episcopalians today in FW and surrounding areas are doing ok in schools, theatre's, homes etc.

You posted this blog for one reason and I hope you will think about that reason. You have hurt me greatly in many of your posts with and I continue to read because I continue to hope you will come to the grace of understanding - that has not happened yet but I continue to pray it will.

Blessings on your parish!


3:56 PM  
Blogger Julian said...

Is anyone benefiting from this conversation?

5:57 PM  

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