In his report yesterday on the seventy-sixth General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Jordan Hylden remarked on the uncertain future for the denomination: “By all indices, the church is graying fast and shrinking faster, attracting precious few youth and young families, its progressive reputation notwithstanding . . . . If present trends hold, in the not-so-distant future many of its members will be either in nursing homes or cemeteries, with devastating effects on the numerous small dioceses and parishes that are just barely holding on.”
That bleak future may already have arrived. As Frank Lockwood, one of the best religious beat reporters in America, recently noted :
In a historic shift, more people are now attending Assemblies of God churches on weekday nights than worship in Episcopal Churches on Sunday mornings .
Average mid-week evening attendance at Assemblies of God churches is now 756,263, according to the denominations official statistics.
Average Sunday attendance, among Episcopalians, is 727,822.
In the past 45 years, Episcopal Church membership has dropped from 3.4 million in 1964 to 2.1 million in 2007. At the same time, the inclusive membership in the Assemblies of God has skyrocketed, from 572,123 in 1964 to 2.9 million in 2008.
The Assemblies of God get surprisingly little attention or media coverage considering that they are one of the largest Christian groups in the world (across the globe they trail only the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Anglican Communion in number of adherents).