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Anglican Diocese of Montreal Membership is in Free Fall

Anglican Diocese of Montreal Membership is in Free Fall

By Jonathan Widell
Special to Virtueonline
June 2, 2019

We are indebted to François Gloutnay for having spotted something remarkable in the recent official documents of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal: a drop of 23% in the number of registered members. The 77 parishes or congregations in the diocese have today 7,825 registered members. Four years ago, the number was 10,134. About half of them go to church on Sundays.

Whatever the reason for this sharp decline, it is safe to say that the cure has been no better than the disease. There has been no dearth of solutions to address the problem but have those solutions had any other effect than making the problem worse? The solution offered by Mary Irwin-Gibson, who coincidentally became bishop four years ago, is to make the church more "welcoming", which means openness to sexual minorities. "Minorities" is the operative word here.

The English-speakers are a minority in Montreal, at about 22%. How sound is the strategy of targeting minorities within that minority, to say nothing of its Biblical soundness? In a city of 1.7 million inhabitants, 22% equals 374,000 people. The number of registered Anglicans is thus a paltry 2% of the number of Anglophones in the city. A large number of the Anglophones in the city are immigrants, who tend to have more traditional values than those who are not immigrants. On the other hand, being welcoming to the French-speaking majority has met with resistance in the parishes with the exception of the cathedral, St. Jax and the Haitian community.

The decline in numbers is nothing new but the rate at which the decline is happening in Montreal is remarkable. If the decline had been halted, the bishop would have been given credit. Who is to blame now that the membership is in free Fall?

Dr. Jonathan Widell got his Doctor of Civil Law degree from McGill University in 2012. An alumnus of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, he currently works as an independent researcher and a legal translator.

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