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Anglican Church of Canada Faces Extinction by 2040, new Report Reveals

Anglican Church of Canada Faces Extinction by 2040, new Report Reveals

By David W. Virtue, DD
October 5, 2019

New official statistics gathered from 2017 by the Anglican Church of Canada and sent to the House of Bishops, show official Sunday attendance has dropped to 97,421. The last official statistics published were in 2001.

Membership and attendance in the ACoC reveal a church in freefall. At the present rate of decline the ACoC will be out of business by 2040. A prior report published in 2006 predicted the last Anglican would leave the church in 2061. That figure has now been lowered. However, even 2040 could be wrong owing to higher recorded deaths, no new members, emptying churches and lack of money to sustain new priests or even what they have.

The following are indisputable facts:

• The rate of decline is increasing.
• New programs adopted by the Church have done nothing to reverse the decline.
• The Anglican Church of Canada is declining faster than any other Anglican Province other than The Episcopal Church, which has an even greater rate of decline.
• The slowest decline is in the number of priests.

The statistical report was prepared for the House of Bishops by the Rev. Dr. Neil Elliot PhD. Here is what he concluded:

Projections from our data indicate that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040.

This report presents the headline data and includes diocesan decline data based on the statistics from 2001 and 2017. The report goes on to look briefly at a few of the implications of the data. The report then suggests further work needs to be done. The work identified here can be done without substantial additional resources. If there is hope in these numbers, it is the hope that some data gathering and analysis in the next few years will enable us to plan for the future and not react to it.

BACKGROUND -- Statistical projections of ACC membership previous to the 2017 data

There have been previous reports to the House of Bishops which have identified the extent of our decline, for example the McKerracher Report in 2006. While McKerracher predicted the last Anglican would leave in 2061, the current evidence projects that the church will run out of members in around 2040. There is no sign of any stabilization in our numbers; if anything, the decline is increasing. Some had hoped that our decline had bottomed out, or that programs had been effective in reversing the trends. This is now demonstrably not the case. The decline will not be a surprise to many congregations who see this happening week by week, but what the data confirms is that this decline is happening consistently across the country from BC to Newfoundland. International comparisons suggest that the decline in the Anglican Church of Canada is faster than in any other Anglican church, although the 2018 data from the Episcopal Church shows an even greater rate of decline in attendance than ours.

There are two main sources of data which show the past trajectory:

Historical ACC statistics from 1961-2001

The years 1962-64 were the apogee years of Anglican Church of Canada membership.

Membership declined by 50% over 40 years from 1961-2001.

Compared with overall Canadian population statistics, the figures were even more alarming!

Membership in 1961 was 1,358,459. There were 18 million Canadians, 7% were Anglicans.

By 2001 there were 641,845 members in a population of 31 million Canadians or 2% of the population.

By 2017 the ACoC had dropped to 357,123 members in a population of 35 million Canadians or 1% of Canadians.

Circulation data of the Anglican Journal (AJ) give figures for more recent decline. AJ circulation statistics are available for diocesan and parish levels. They have been collected through a consistent methodology of parochial data collection with the intention of distributing the diocesan newspapers. The overall numbers are as follows:

June 1991 - 273,000 subscriber households
June 2015 - 135,500 subscriber households

The 25-year decline from 1991-2015 was 50%.

Put together the ACoC will run out of members around 2040.

Hat tip to Canadian blogger, Anglican Samizdat.https://www.anglicansamizdat.net/

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