Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Advent of the New Anglican Province

The announcements have been made. So have initial responses. (Check out, e.g. Titus One Nine for posts, and many comments from supporters and detractors). Much of the story of the new Anglican province for North America lies in the future. Two important questions to be answered in the future are these:

(i) numbers matter: will the province grow significantly beyond its estimated 100 000 members? AND will TEC continue its estimated decline of a 1000 members a week from an estimated 2.4 million members?

If TEC stops haemorrhaging and the new province does not significantly grow TEC 'wins', but if TEC continues to decline and the new province grows, then one day the latter's aim to replace TEC will be achieved.

(ii) how will this body which has honestly declared itself to be an ecclesial community of many prayer books, ordination policies, and approaches to orthodoxy (i.e. Anglo-Catholic, evangelical, charismatic) resolve internal disagreement?

Obviously there is huge goodwill at present, and a remarkable unity of purpose given some previous disunity between 'non-TEC' Anglican groupings in North America. But in 2028 or 2048 will the same goodwill exist?

My humble suggestion is that significant theological, structural and constitutional work within the new province begins now in order to meet the inevitable challenges of the future.


liturgy said...

Optimistically did the NZ province have about 30,000 in church on Sunday? That 1% or so of TEC puts our own situation (and theirs) into perspective doesn't it? With TEC about one percent or so of USA.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Liturgy
Perspective is indeed important!
Our 30,000 in church on Sunday is less than a third of those in church in the New American Province!!
I hope that we can recognise that a substantive province is being created.
Will ACANZP recognise it?!

Anonymous said...

Bosco, TEC has c. 730,000 uSa - probably 50,000 less now with the loss of four dioceses.

liturgy said...

I think, Anonymous, that you were correcting Peter's figures not mine, though how that moves his conversation forward I fail to see.
Peter might be interested in the source of your figures.
As to TEC "losing four dioceses" - I don't know where you got that from. As far as I know the number of dioceses in TEC has not changed.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Liturgy and Anonymous
I have no problem with the numbers of TEC worshippers being 730000 or 2400000 - either way its lots of worshippers compared to ACANZP's probable 30000.
Of course if the four substantial parts of dioceses which are 'lost' to TEC constitute 100000 Sunday worshippers and TEC's figure is 730000 rather than 2400000, then I think we might understand why bishops such as John Chane have come out in recent days with some tough talk about the new province not being recognised.

However I suspect it is early days to begin waging argument on the basis of how many Sunday worshippers the new province has.

Perhaps everyone could do a tally up on Christmas day and send the figures to me for a 'scoop' on Boxing Day!!

Anonymous said...

please explain why numbers matter.
If it is true and only one person beieves it - does it change it's truthfullness?
Where 2 or thtee are gathered ...

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
I think numbers matter in this case because the greater the numbers the greater the concern being expressed. The New American Province is (I suggest) sizeable enough to warrant consideration of the case for its recognition by the rest of the Communion. By way of comparison I suggest TEC's numbers warrant care and consideration re call to suspend or expel it from membership of the Communion.

Otherwise I agree with you that numbers do not determine truth.

Anonymous said...

from Anonymous #1:

Bosco, the figures for Tec attenadance (and notional membership) have been in relentless decline for over 40 years and have accelerated since 2003. The statistics are easily obtainable, even from Tec itself, though there is a lag in their release of stats.
I confess I didn't know ACANZP was as bad as it is - like most 'Western' Anglicanism, it faces virtual extinction within a generation. Remember, demography is a game of Last Man Standing (or last worshiper kneeling...)
And yes, I know Tec has Potemkin "Dioceses" like San Joaquin - just like the True Descendant of the Tsars can be found holding court in some back alley of Paris, with the Last of the Hapsburgs...
As the Arabs say, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.

liturgy said...

Your anonymous nonsense hardly deserves a polite response. However, for the sake of other readers of this blog, let’s just clarify your excesses.

TEC had steady and accelerating growth from 1930 to 1967 from about one and a half million to over three million active members (average increase 40,000 per year). Then significant decline to about two and three quarter million in 1974. And then the slow decline over the last 3 decades, losing about 10,000 a year. The strongest loss was the seven years 1967-1974 (50,000 per year). Not the twaddle you present.

I don’t know what to do with your confession “I didn't know ACANZP was as bad as it is”. For all I know you are a Scientologist in Slovenia and no one would expect you to have any idea of what happens in New Zealand. In what sense is ACANZP bad? [Peter’s allowance of anonymous comments on this blog make it difficult to distinguish one anonymous opinion from another – if you seek to remain anonymous, please refer to yourself as Slovenian Scientologist]. Anyone who knows anything about NZ knows our highly secular, non-church attending nature. The Anglican Church here has always been small – my understanding (although national stats are very hard to come by) is that, like TEC, church attendance may be declining, but not steeply.

As for “potemkin diocese”, please remember it is the schismatics who are not recognised by the Anglican Communion. What you call potemkin diocese are fully recognised as part of the Anglican Communion, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by ACANZP. I leave it to the readers here to decide which are potemkin in this story!

I continue to receive hope in the prophetic denomination to which I belong – even with all the frustrations experienced in any democracy, in any family. Our mission and impact in the world is far far bigger than our small numbers warrant. In USA alone, one quarter of US presidents have been Episcopalians – more than any other denomination (for a 1% of the population denomination!) One third of all US Supreme Court Justices have been Episcopalian – more than any other denomination.

A bit of historical perspective, Slovenian Scientologist, does not hurt: Rumours of the demise of Anglicanism have been greatly exaggerated during at least the last four centuries!

As the Arabs say, the fish swim off, but the ocean remains.