The membership question

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Dan Gilgoff holds that “churches most open to homosexuality are shrinking fastest.” Pastordan counters with his UCC, than which no mainline denomination is more gay friendly and whose numbers are (by some measure) up. Partnered gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson says his own diocesan head count has risen by three percent. My hypothesis is that what drives numbers down is fighting interminably over gay and lesbian inclusion. Better to make your decision, and then focus on getting people who are OK with it in the door.

Update: Over at GetReligion, Mattingly questions Bishop Robinson’s figures–based on the most recent Episcopal Church numbers. He’s right: If the New Hampshire diocese has really turned around its demographics, it would be (pretty) big news.

  • Mattingly’s analysis is far from conclusive. First, we need to jettison his discussion of statistics going back to 1997; it’s irrelevant and frankly makes me wonder if he’s trying to color people’s perceptions of the numbers that do matter.
    Those numbers are where the diocese was a year ago and where it is today. If the diocese has grown from 14,160 to 15,000, that would be an increase of 6%.
    Yes, it would be quite a feat for a mainline denomination to post a gain, especially in a place like New Hampshire. But there’s nothing in TEC’s published statistics which suggest that Bishop Robinson is lying.

  • Mark Silk

    True enough, Stephen, but it will certainly be interesting to see the official numbers when they come out.