Fact Sheets on Episcopal Growth

Is the Episcopal Church Declining?

A frequent conservative critique of the Episcopal Church, USA has been that it is a dying a church, losing membership to the point where it is an irrelevant entity. They claim that the loss of members is a result of ECUSA itself becoming increasingly liberal.  As with much else claimed by the AAC, this is a distortion of the truth.

  • Fact: Since 1995 the membership of the Episcopal Church has been increasing.  In fact, efforts in the “Decade of Evangelism” have reversed a consistent downward trend in actual membership numbers.  There were 159,603 more Episcopal communicants in 2000 than there were in 1990.

  • Fact:  The average Sunday attendance in Episcopal churches nationwide increased 3.4% from 1991-1999.  The average Pittsburgh Sunday attendance decreased 3.3% in that same period.
  • Fact: The growth rate of the Episcopal Church has not kept up with the growth rate of the United States.  From 1970-2000 the U.S. population grew 41.2% and the Episcopal Church membership declined by 15.9%.  However, since 1990 the number of ECUSA communicants has grown 9.4%.
  • Fact: The Diocese of New Hampshire had a 47.5% increase (from 9,154 to 13,499), and had the second highest growth rate of any diocese. 
  • Fact: During 1990-2000 the number of Diocese of Pittsburgh communicants went from 14,909 to 16,607 (an 11.4% increase), but the Sunday attendance declined (see above) The diocese was ranked 44th in growth rate.
  • Fact:  The Diocese of Pittsburgh is now declining in membership.  Although the diocesan office describes us as a diocese of about 22,000 members, the most recent figures (from the 2002 parochial reports)  show 16,486* communicants.  In 2001 there had been 17,012 communicants.  (* The Diocesan figure is 15,195, but there was no return for St. Stephen’s, Sewickley, so the figure was adjusted to include the 2001 communicants for that parish.)

Note:  The figures for all but the last fact were compiled from official church reports by Louis Crew and are available on his web site.