Episcopal dioceses
that voted against gay bishop-elect Gene Robinson
grew more… & lost less

from http://www.bsu.edu/web/dsumner/Personal/churchgrowth.htm

 By David E. Sumner, Ph.D.

     In the first Virtuosity story I wrote about growth patterns among “yes” and “no” dioceses on the Robinson confirmation vote, I concluded that the “yes” dioceses lost 85,374 members between 1995 and 2001, while the “no” dioceses lost only 345 members. I based these conclusions on statistics in the 1997 and 2003 Episcopal Church annuals for those two years. This story was posted on the e-mail listserv to bishops and deputies by a Virtuosity reader, and the figures were later challenged by Louis Crew of the Diocese of NewarkMr. Crew and I had a polite e-mail discussion about the figures, and he later admitted that he had made a calculation error with his figures.

    Nevertheless, this incident prompted me to verify my figures with the Episcopal Church’s Research Office, which is the source for the statistics published in the church annuals. “The figures in the annuals for both years are incorrect,” according to Lee Clark, reports coordinator for the Research Office“I was brought in two years ago to clean up the data,” which he says had been sloppily recorded for several yearsMr. Clark then e-mailed me Excel spreadsheet files with updated figures for both 1995 and 2001—the latest available year.

   The revised results indicate that the disparity between the “yes” and “no” dioceses are even greater than I originally reportedBishops who voted “yes” to the confirmation of Canon Robinson came from dioceses that lost 101,711 baptized members during this six-year period. Bishops who voted “no” to the confirmation of Robinson came from dioceses with a total net gain of 147 baptized members Overseas dioceses and three dioceses whose bishops did not vote are not included in these totals.
(See a complete table of diocesan membership gains and losses at the end of this article).

   The ten fastest-growing dioceses included:
Texas (7,549), Virginia (5,133), Dallas (5,003), Alabama (3,409), Mississippi (3,365), San Diego (2,985), North Carolina (2,901), Atlanta (2,879), Florida (2,391), and Southeast Florida (1,852)Four of those bishops--Virginia, North Carolina , Atlanta , and Southeast Florida --voted “yes” on the Robinson confirmation. 

[NOTE: the growth in Virginia was almost for sure due to the strong conservative parishes, especially in Northern Virginia.   E. F.]

   The ten fastest-shrinking dioceses included: Massachusetts (18,398), Connecticut (11,911), Los Angeles (8,574), Pennsylvania (8,136), Long Island (7,737), Michigan (6,998), Newark (4,754), Albany (4,187), Western New York (3,978), and West Tennessee (3,694)Among these dioceses, the bishops of Albany and West Tennessee voted “no” on the Robinson confirmation while the others voted “yes.”

   Episcopal dioceses whose bishops voted “no” to the confirmation of Bishop-elect Gene Robinson also displayed substantially higher giving among their households than those dioceses whose bishops voted “yes” to his confirmationThe average pledge among the 36 dioceses whose bishops voted “no” was 21 percent higher in 2001 than those whose bishop voted “yes.”  The average pledge was $1,846 for the “no” dioceses and $1,522 for the “yes” dioceses. The average pledge among all 100 domestic dioceses that year was $1,668.

     Dioceses ranking in the top ten on both giving and growth included Alabama , Atlanta , Dallas , Texas , and Mississippi

     These findings reinforce similar findings by Barna Research Group, Ventura , California, in a 2000 telephone survey of individual giving patternsIn his study, George Barna concluded, “The subgroups with the highest average giving were evangelical Christians ($2,476)….born-again Christians ($1,651); ….and residents of the South ($1,281).”  Further details about Barna’s study are available at www.barna.org.

     Geography is another independent variable in these resultsMigration in the U.S. has generally moved from the Northeast and Midwest to the Southeast and Southwest and those dioceses have benefited from this population growthThat alone, however, doesn’t explain the fact that southern dioceses have much higher giving patterns while per capita income is much higher along the Eastern seaboardThe Diocese of San Diego, a “no” diocese, also has a considerably higher growth and pledge rate than its neighboring Diocese of Los Angeles or other California dioceses.

   I believe these findings reinforce other studies indicating that conservative churches that challenge their members to a higher standard of living than the secular culture are those churches most likely to growChurches that challenge their members to follow the teachings of the Bible—including the biblical tithe—are generally the most healthy.

    David E. Sumner (dsumner@bsu.edu) is a professor of journalism at Ball State University , Muncie , Indiana , and author of The Episcopal Church’s History 1945-1985 (Morehouse, 1987).   He was editor of the Diocese of Southern Ohio newspaper from 1981 to 1986.

Vote

Diocese

1995

2001

Change

Percent

No

Texas

78,317

85,866

7,549

10%

Yes

Virginia

82,704

87,837

5,133

6%

No

Dallas

34,680

39,683

5,003

14%

No

Alabama

31,163

34,572

3,409

11%

No

Mississippi

21,623

24,988

3,365

16%

No

San Diego

19,808

22,793

2,985

15%

Yes

North Carolina

45,162

48,063

2,901

6%

Yes

Atlanta

52,256

55,135

2,879

6%

No

Florida

30,102

32,493

2,391

8%

Yes

Southeast Florida

36,788

38,640

1,852

5%

Yes

New York

62,912

64,264

1,352

2%

No

Rio Grande

14,006

15,335

1,329

9%

No

Tennessee

13,752

15,005

1,253

9%

Yes

Arkansas

13,426

14,668

1,242

9%

No

Georgia

17,523

18,557

1,034

6%

Yes

Western North Carolina

14,731

15,612

881

6%

Yes

Delaware

12,204

12,962

758

6%

Yes

El Camino Real

15,664

16,261

597

4%

Yes

Utah

6,224

6,779

555

9%

Yes

Idaho

5,720

6,217

497

9%

No

Central Gulf Coast

20,456

20,828

372

2%

Yes

East Carolina

17,803

18,130

327

2%

No

San Joaquin

10,484

10,758

274

3%

No

South Carolina

27,142

27,391

249

1%

No

Fort Worth

18,088

18,335

247

1%

Yes

Wyoming

8,580

8,773

193

2%

No

Louisiana

19,993

20,150

157

1%

Yes

Nevada

5,553

5,686

133

2%

No

Upper South Carolina

26,448

26,519

71

0%

Yes

Eastern Oregon

3,640

3,687

47

1%

Yes

New Hampshire

16,709

16,628

(81)

0%

Yes

Lexington

8,999

8,903

(96)

-1%

No

Quincy

3,156

3,020

(136)

-4%

Yes

Kentucky

10,320

10,157

(163)

-2%

Yes

West Missouri

12,856

12,663

(193)

-2%

No

Eau Claire

2,582

2,388

(194)

-8%

No

Western Kansas

2,791

2,522

(269)

-10%

No

Northwest Texas

9,207

8,909

(298)

-3%

Yes

Northern California

19,035

18,728

(307)

-2%

Yes

Milwaukee

14,276

13,866

(410)

-3%

No

Pittsburgh

20,961

20,532

(429)

-2%

Yes

Missouri

15,059

14,627

(432)

-3%

Yes

Indianapolis

12,718

12,280

(438)

-3%

Yes

Vermont

9,309

8,833

(476)

-5%

No

North Dakota

3,364

2,789

(575)

-17%

No

East Tennessee

17,357

16,713

(644)

-4%

No

Springfield

7,259

6,603

(656)

-9%

No

Kansas

14,754

14,067

(687)

-5%

Yes

California

29,669

28,974

(695)

-2%

No

Western Louisiana

14,434

13,711

(723)

-5%

Yes

Northern Michigan

2,915

2,134

(781)

-27%

Yes

Maryland

48,244

47,444

(800)

-2%

Yes

Chicago

44,423

43,581

(842)

-2%

No

Southern Ohio

26,504

25,617

(887)

-3%

Yes

Easton

10,308

9,397

(911)

-9%

Yes

Washington

42,208

41,175

(1,033)

-2%

No

Northern Indiana

8,252

7,165

(1,087)

-13%

Yes

Hawaii

11,694

10,572

(1,122)

-10%

Yes

Iowa

12,676

11,551

(1,125)

-9%

Yes

Southwestern Virginia

13,700

12,558

(1,142)

-8%

Yes

Spokane

9,825

8,667

(1,158)

-12%

Yes

Olympia

34,813

33,645

(1,168)

-3%

Yes

Oregon

22,091

20,887

(1,204)

-5%

No

Northwestern Pennsylvania

6,964

5,745

(1,219)

-18%

Yes

South Dakota

12,913

11,691

(1,222)

-9%

Yes

Eastern Michigan

11,261

9,998

(1,263)

-11%

No

Southwest Florida

39,424

37,998

(1,426)

-4%

No

Southern Virginia

34,974

33,507

(1,467)

-4%

Yes

Western Michigan

14,391

12,876

(1,515)

-11%

No

Central Florida

39,620

38,045

(1,575)

-4%

Yes

Central Pennsylvania

18,454

16,870

(1,584)

-9%

No

Nebraska

11,646

10,003

(1,643)

-14%

Yes

Bethlehem

17,603

15,857

(1,746)

-10%

Yes

Oklahoma

19,707

17,685

(2,022)

-10%

No

West Virginia

12,455

10,326

(2,129)

-17%

Yes

Maine

17,329

14,931

(2,398)

-14%

Yes

Central New York

25,395

22,897

(2,498)

-10%

Yes

Arizona

29,291

26,669

(2,622)

-9%

Yes

Alaska

7,002

4,293

(2,709)

-39%

Yes

Rochester

16,531

13,762

(2,769)

-17%

No

Fond Du Lac

9,285

6,485

(2,800)

-30%

No

West Texas

30,653

27,837

(2,816)

-9%

Yes

Colorado

36,485

33,216

(3,269)

-9%

Yes

Ohio

36,730

33,441

(3,289)

-9%

Yes

Rhode Island

29,978

26,659

(3,319)

-11%

Yes

Minnesota

31,619

28,285

(3,334)

-11%

No

West Tennessee

13,120

9,426

(3,694)

-28%

Yes

Western New York

21,176

17,198

(3,978)

-19%

No

Albany

24,424

20,237

(4,187)

-17%

Yes

Newark

39,927

35,173

(4,754)

-12%

Yes

Michigan

36,348

29,350

(6,998)

-19%

Yes

Long Island

67,018

59,281

(7,737)

-12%

Yes

Pennsylvania

64,305

56,169

(8,136)

-13%

Yes

Los Angeles

78,745

70,171

(8,574)

-11%

Yes

Connecticut

78,159

66,248

(11,911)

-15%

Yes

Massachusetts

91,919

73,521

(18,398)

-20%

  Totals for these 97 dioceses

2,326,266

2,223,143

   

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