From the Globe and Mail:
The Anglican Church in Canada – once as powerful in the nation’s secular life as it was in its soul – may be only a generation away from extinction, says a just-published assessment of the church’s future.
The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.”
According to the report, the diocese – “like most across Canada” – is in crisis. The report repeats, without qualification or question, the results of a controversial study presented to Anglican bishops five years ago that said that at the present rate of decline – a loss of 13,000 members per year – only one Anglican would be left in Canada by 2061.
It points out that just half a century ago, 40 per cent of Vancouver Island’s population was Anglican; now the figure is 1.2 per cent. Nationally, between 1961 and 2001, the church lost 53 per cent of its membership, declining to 642,000 from 1.36 million. Between 1991 and 2001 alone, it declined by 20 per cent.
Regular attendance is declining at all Canadian Christian churches, except for the Roman Catholic Church, whose small increase is attributed to immigration.
The B.C. diocesan report tells Anglicans on Vancouver Island and the adjacent Gulf Islands – which the diocese covers – that 19 of their 54 churches should be closed, with another 11 put on death watch, and that two more should not have their priests replaced when they move on or retire.
The remaining congregations have been told to abandon their sedate, clubby Anglican culture and get their behinds off pews to evangelize in shopping malls, homes and workplaces.
“The status quo is not an option,” the report says. With a preponderance of Anglicans being 60 or older, the church is “one generation away from extinction,” it says.
“The unchurched are not coming to us. Lapsed Anglicans are not coming back in sufficient numbers.”
Two things have caught up with the Anglican Church of Canada and will be the cause of its final undoing:
- The ACoC, as this report suggests, is beset by a clubby Anglican culture. This kept people coming back for more bazaars, rummage sales, ladies teas and church dances 50 years ago, but now there are more enticing alternatives. Telling aging congregations to get their behinds off pews to evangelize isn’t going to help much because they have no good news to tell: it has been purged by increasingly liberal and unbelieving clergy.
- Those who contribute a substantial amount of money to the church each week are orthodox Christians who believe in giving a percentage of their income back to God. Such people have been thoroughly alienated by the ACoC’s increasingly radical anti-Christian liberalism, so they are leaving either individually or as entire parishes. Soon there will be no-one left willing to give money to the ACoC.
“The status quo is not an option” is being chanted as a remedial mantra in numerous dioceses. In truth, those shouting it the loudest are the ones most determined to continue doing more of what has brought the ACoC to its present sorry state; a contemporary application of Exodus 10:20a; perhaps.