I used to be Episcopalian.  I am now part of the Anglican Church in North America.  I still follow the decline of the Episcopal Church for a very particular reason.  It is not to celebrate or gloat.  Actually it grieves me.  I follow the annual statistics in order to know how many Episcopalians left Bay Area Parishes since 2003.  We hear of parishes when they depart The Episcopal Church, but by far the greatest number of people leaving do so one at a time.  They typically do not make a fuss.  They simply depart.  The ones I have spoken to are weary of the struggle and sick at heart over the theological revisionism rampant in the local churches.

When St. James was formed it was with the hope that we could find other refugees from The Episcopal Church and help them start new Anglican Churches in their communities.  We are not solely focused on former members of TEC.  We do however have a heart for them.  We are about to launch our third mission in the last 18 months.  We are actively looking for people throughout the Bay Area and hope to make beginnings in San Mateo and San Francisco in the next year.

So how many have left?  Lets take a look at numbers found on the National Episcopal Church website.  TEC has a wonderful statistics service that documents growth and decline.  I admire the way they make these numbers public.  There are two TEC dioceses in the Bay Area.  The larger is the Diocese of California and it is entirely found within the Bay Area.  El Camino Real includes most of Santa Clara County and stretches all the way south to San Lois Obisbo.  About 60% of the membership of El Camino Real is located in the Bay Area.  As we look at the decline we will need to make an assumption that about 60% of El Camino Real’s losses happened in the Bay Area.

Here are the numbers.

  • Diocese of California members 2003: 30,135 2009: 26,751 a drop of 3,384 people
  • Diocese of El Camino Real 2003: 16,214 2009: 13,195 a drop of 3,019 people (60% = 1,811)

Average Sunday Attendance is typically a better indicator.

  • Diocese of California ASA 2003: 10,221 2009: 8,792 a drop of 1,429
  • Diocese of El Camino Real ASA 2003: 6,025 2009: 4,627 a drop of 1,398 (60% = 839)

Not even clergy attend every week.  Some people attend most weeks while others attend once a month.  Doubling the ASA loss is a reasonable way to estimate actual losses.  Using this basis it would appear that a conservative estimate the departures number between 4,516 – 5,1 95 people.

If you are reading this and are one of these 4,516+ people, please know that you are not alone.  It may feel that way, but there are many of us here in the Bay Area.  If we could get together for fellowship it would be wonderful.  If we could could network together and start more churches it would be incredible.  Please give me (Ed McNeill) a call 408-674-2770.