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CANADA: Diocese of Huron has seen 50 church closures

CANADA: Diocese of Huron has seen 50 church closures
Widespread membership trends of decline are being experienced across the country

By David W. Virtue, DD
October 14, 2020

That things have changed over the last few decades for the Anglican Church of Canada would be an understatement.

The most significant marker of this change has been the decline of Canadian Church membership -- the fading away of congregations that were seemingly vibrant and hopeful just a decade or two ago.

Anglicans in Huron know the story of 'here today, gone tomorrow' all too well, writes the Rev. Grayhame Bowcott, in the Huron diocesan newspaper.

"Between the years of 2007-2017 Huron witnessed the disappearance of more than fifty congregations. Each of these was a mission light that has gone out in our Diocese. For some Anglicans this has meant having to move from one congregation to another.

"For others this has meant that Anglican ministry in an entire community or region has altogether ceased. In my search for growth and vibrancy in our Diocese I had to begin by confronting the difficult truths of our context that we don't like talking about because they cause us to face our organization's fears and vulnerabilities.

"Statistics that show that between the years 2007-2017 Huron's membership declined by 15,771 baptized members, with 5,037 fewer worshippers on Sunday, seeing 10,846 fewer participants for Easter celebrations and witnessing the disappearance of 2,346 children who had previously been learning God's
story through Sunday ministries.

"Trends that document that 85% of congregations in Huron were marked by membership decline in that decade, while roughly 10% were holding steady."
(These statistics were taken from Huron's 2007-2017 Annual Statistical returns)

"Some in our Church find consolation in these changing times knowing that most Anglican dioceses in Canada are in the same boat together -- that widespread membership trends of decline are being experienced across the country."

Researchers Brian Clarke and Stuart MacDonald have calculated the annual decline of national Anglican membership to be roughly 22,700 members per year!

How should Anglicans respond to these rapid changes in our Church? These changes threaten the future of our ministries, our congregations, our seminaries and perhaps even the future of Anglicanism in Canada?

Well, the answer lies in what is being proclaimed in the pulpit. The deficiency starts there.

Healthy gospel affirming, faithful bible teaching, good analysis of the text with solid illustrative sermons might be a start.

Affirming what the Bible actually says about human sexuality, and not twisting it to suit the needs of a handful of pansexualists, would also help.

Relating the Bible to the times on social matters, without being overcome by leftist answers to all situations; having social outreach to the poor and needy and showing compassion for those who have had abortions without embracing abortion might be some starters.

Healthy bible-based sermons can comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

What doesn't work is promoting National Coming Out Day where one is asked to 'Celebrate with your queer and trans friends and parishioners; honoring their journeys; hear their stories; lifting up the voices of queer and trans people within your community'.

That doesn't work, has never worked, and never will work and then topping it off by calling yourselves Proud Anglicans of Huron! That's like sticking a pitchfork in your stomach and hoping you won't feel the pain.

Nationally, figures prove further that theological revisionism, moral relativism and general irrelevancy hasn't worked.

A statistical report for the House of Bishops in 2017 counted 359,030 members on parish rolls in 2,206 congregations, organized into 1,571 parishes.

The average Sunday attendance has dropped to 97,421. (The Anglican Church in North America is bigger than that.)

A previous report published in 2006 predicted the last Anglican would leave the church in 2061. That number is now 2040.

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 Province other than The Episcopal Church, which has an even greater rate of decline.

With COVID, the decline will only accelerate.

The end of the Anglican Church of Canada is now clearly in sight.


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