Episcopal Church Lost over 61,000 Members Before COVID-19 Struck in 2020

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for ChristianHeadlines.com | Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Episcopal Church Lost over 61,000 Members Before COVID-19 Struck in 2020

Episcopal Church Lost over 61,000 Members Before COVID-19 Struck in 2020

Numerous reports published by the Episcopal Church's General Convention have recently shown a continual decline in the liberal mainline denomination's membership.

According to The Christian Post, last week, the Episcopal Church's General Convention released data comparing the denomination's 2020 membership numbers to previous years.

In one report, the number of baptized members by province and diocese dropped from 1.798 million to approximately 1.736 million between 2019 and 2020, resulting in a reduction of about 61,760 people.

The total number of members for 2020 is approximately 350,000 people less than the total number of members in 2011 (2.096 million members). It is also less than half of the 3.6 million members reported in 1966.

Another report reveals that the number of "active baptized members" in the Episcopal Church is also on the decline. In 2019, the number of baptized members was 1.6 million, whereas, in 2020, only 1.5 million members were baptized.

While the COVID-19 pandemic led to cancellations of in-person services, the Episcopal Church was seeing reductions in membership before government restrictions were put in place.

According to another report by the convention, average Sunday attendance decreased from roughly 547,000 attendees in 2019 to 483,000 in 2020. This is approximately 210,000 fewer average Sunday attendees than in 2011 when about 698,000 people on average attended an Episcopal Church service.

Last Wednesday, Jeff Walton of the theologically conservative think tank Institute on Religion & Democracy wrote that the Episcopal Church "took a major hit in the year 2020."

"These numbers indicate a doubling in the rate of membership decline and a tripling in the rate of attendance decline over the previous year," Walton noted.

"From 2019-2020, weddings across the denomination dropped from 6,484 to 3,530, down 46 percent (an additional 309 weddings were reported conducted online in virtual services). Children's baptisms dropped from 19,716 to 7,286, down 67 percent," he continued. "Adult baptisms dropped from 3,866 to 1,649, down 57 percent."

As Christian Headlines previously reported, an Episcopal priest and professor warned that the denomination could cease to exist by 2050 if the decline in membership continues.

Reasons behind the departures range from an aging demographic to the church's progressive direction, which has prompted conservative members to leave. Another reason for the decline in membership is attributed to the general reduction of religious affiliation in the United States.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Beright

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

Episcopal Church Lost over 61,000 Members Before COVID-19 Struck in 2020