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Episcopal church marriages down 66% since 2003

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by Ananias, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. Ananias

    Ananias Member

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    Story here.

    I've been saying it for years -- liberals can get woke humanism pure from the culture. They don't need a watered-down version from the church. At this rate TEC and CofE will be moribund within a decade or two. They may stagger on as pension and real-estate trusts, but will cease to be part of the actual church militant.

    The heart and center of gravity for global Anglicanism long ago shifted to Africa. GAFCON and ACNA will carry the banner in the west, but the days when Anglicans looked to Canterbury for guidance are over.
     
  2. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    I'd be interest in knowing ACNA's comparable wedding rate.

    Remember from your class in Statistics 101 correlation is not causation.
     
  3. Ananias

    Ananias Member

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    Incorrect. Correlation is not necessarily causation. But correlation is often evidence of causation.

    I think that we have a long enough baseline to know that correlation and causation in this particular instance are most certainly linked, if not a direct cause-and-effect phenomenon. There is more that ails TEC and CofE (and many mainline Christian churches, for that matter) than runaway liberalism; but runaway liberalism is most assuredly among the ailments. (EDIT: Added link)
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
  4. bèlla

    bèlla ❤️ Supporter

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    Some on mainline seminary campuses now advocate for marriage contracts with an expiration date, rather than ‘until death do us part’. This is a concession to the culture of personal autonomy and a departure from what the church has historically understood...

    That's terrible. I contemplated joining the Episcopal church years ago. But it was too liberal. I would never sign that. My word.

    Yours in His Service,

    ~Bella
     
  5. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    There are likely multiple contributing factors. Church attendance by young people is down across the board. I suspect you would find this trend in other denominations as well, which is why I asked the question about ACNA's numbers if you know them. One must also consider TEC was a larger body in 2003 before splinter groups left them, which would also contribute to a decreased percentage in weddings unless the percentage was calculated as a percentage of membership, which the article does not seem to make clear. It seems you would like to make the case that its because of TEC stances you do not agree with, but I doubt it is that simple.
     
  6. Ananias

    Ananias Member

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    It may be some years yet before we know what the organic growth of ACNA is -- so much of the growth of the last decade has been by incorporation of orthodox dioceses and parishes. Looking at it as a trendline, church plants and "organic" membership are growing (albeit slowly) rather than shrinking. Some dioceses are growing faster than others. This is a plague year, so it's going to be an anomaly that affects a 5-year and 10-year growth-curve, but I'm confident the province will bounce back strongly next year. My own church is forging ahead in building a new sanctuary and expanding the existing nursery/Sunday School/common area.

    ACNA has also finally put out the 2019 version of the BCP, which is faithful to the 1662 BCP in terms of theology and church practice. I expect a push in the coming year for member churches to incorporate it into their services, which should enforce some church-practice unity in the ACNA. And we have also received the new Anglican Catechism (edited by the great J. I. Packer) as part of evangelical outreach to new believers. Orthodox doctrine and church-practice are once again taking center stage, and I'm very happy to see it.

    We know a tree by its fruit, and we are getting good fruit: more young people in the congregations, more children, more constant attendance in the pews on Sundays (even during a pandemic!).
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2020
  7. Arcangl86

    Arcangl86 Newbie

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    The article is using absolute numbers, not percentages. And both for the wedding thing and the baptism thing, he's taking raw numbers and making theological claims based off of them.
     
  8. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    Well, it says weddings are down by 66% since 2003. That's a percentage. Is that 66% reduction in raw numbers or 66% fewer weddings per capita membership. It makes a difference. Either way, it's 66% down from before some groups pulled out of TEC forming new Anglican bodies, reducing TEC's numbers and leaving a smaller denomination.

    Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is often quoted as having said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Statistics can be manipulated to support arguments. By themselves they are meaningless without comparatives. Are there also fewer weddings and baptisms in other denominations? How much fewer (or larger)? And, how about the ACNA? Are they as transparent about reporting their numbers? What are their numbers? Data needs to be reviewed compared to comparative benchmarks. Maybe the author is onto something; maybe not.
     
  9. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    As seeking.IAM notes, there are likely multiple contributing factors. The article itself says:
    These reasons should not be dismissed too quickly.

    I'll add that the article seems to be placing high importance on cradle Episcopalians -- couples marrying and raising their children in the Episcopal church, and those children going on to be lifelong Episcopalians -- as though that is the main way new Episcopalians are made. Back in the '80s, when I was making my journey to the Episcopal church, the statistics were that about half of Episcopalians came from other denominations. I haven't checked to see if that statistic still holds, but anecdotally my parish is composed of former Catholics, former Baptists, former Methodists, former Lutherans, and, yes, a handful of cradle Episcopalians. When counting the statistics, we should make sure to count Episcopalians who were married in other churches, or who were married in a church of their spouse's denomination.
     
  10. Ananias

    Ananias Member

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    Perhaps a more important question here is whether the Protestant Christian world is moving away from the idea of marriage as a sacrament and embracing the idea of marriage as a civil contract. Many Protestants already seem to hold a de facto belief in this precept, regardless of what the de jure rules of their faith prescribe.

    Take the New England Puritans, for example, a sect which can hardly be accused of being too loosely bound to a Christian life. For the Puritans, marriage was a civil affair. Puritans did not consider divorce sinful if it was occasioned by, e.g., adultery, abuse, desertion, or a failure to provide.

    That being said, Puritans were hardly egalitarian in the modern sense regarding relationships. There was a strong expectation that people should marry and that monogamous heterosexual marriage was part of God's plan for human beings. Puritans tended to marry later in life than was common at the time, but nearly all Puritans eventually married. Bachelorhood/spinsterhood was rare. Puritans, contrary to their historical reputation as being austere in marriage as in so much else, were actually romantics who believed in true love and in mutual delight in the marriage bed. Marriage for Puritans was certainly not secular in the way moderns think of it, but that's because for Puritans almost nothing in their lives was truly secular. Intimating that Puritans considered marriage a "secular" institution is incorrect; for Puritans there was no real division between the secular life and that of the faith. (In the Roman Catholic world, this view is often called "integralism".)

    I'm not sure how common this outlook is in modern Protestant and Reformed churches, but I'm certainly willing to be educated on it.

    EDIT: Added the "New England" qualifier since Puritan practice in North America often differed substantially from Puritan practice in England.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2020
  11. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    My son got married last week. It was important to him and his bride to have a destination wedding, to be married on a beach at sunset. It was not important to him to have a traditional church wedding. I think you are close to being onto something here, but I really doubt that most people approach the subject on such an intellectual level of civil contract vs. sacrament. I think they do not give it such deep thought, that it not an ideological decision. It was the idyllic beach that attracted my son, not a civil contract. I suspect he never gave that a moment's thought.
     
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  12. Ananias

    Ananias Member

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    I sometimes forget how Protestant notions of marriage as a sacrament come from Roman Catholicism -- this is one area of theology that never really got "Reformed" in any systematic way. Martin Luther believed that marriage was "a worldly thing" and the province of civil government rather than the church. Of course Martin Luther did theology like a rabbit runs, so I'm not sure we can read too much into that.

    I would say that monogamous, heterosexual union between man and wife is a religious institution, if only because Christians are called to model Christ's relationship with his Church. (Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 19:7, Revelation 21:2) But whether this Christian union and civil "marriage" are (or ought to be) the same thing...I come down on the ought side of the argument. Whether marriage is done in a church by a pastor or priest or by a magistrate in a secular setting, it should model Christ and his Church; otherwise it is not a true Christian union.

    I would advocate for church weddings, therefore, to make this point explicit.
     
  13. Arcangl86

    Arcangl86 Newbie

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    No, he uses absolute numbers, which is clear in the article.
     
  14. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Yeah, no. As someone in the cultural west, but outside America and England, I call tosh. GAFCON aren't carrying the banner for anything here; they are despised for their destructive divisiveness and their attempts to undermine the order and unity of the global communion.

    I would have said that Article XXV was pretty clear on that: "There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

    Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
    "

    I don't know about the rest of the Protestant Christian world, but Anglicanism seems to have moved away from the idea of marriage as a sacrament a long time ago.

    What I was taught in college is that the Christian west has long understood marriage as something formed by the free consent of both people, whether that consent occurred in an explicitly Christian context or not. Sometimes that free consent is accompanied by civil documentation, and sometimes (as by the Catholics) it is regarded as a sacrament, but fundamentally and predating either understanding, it's the willing consent of the couple that is the core.
     
  15. Naomi4Christ

    Naomi4Christ not a nutter Supporter

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    There are a lot of factors as to whether someone gets married in church and these have changed a lot in the last 20 years.

    Here in England, a lot of venues have been allowed to offer marriages. Before it used to be just churches and registry offices. Now you can get married almost anywhere. My son got married in a country retreat and it was lovely. I wasn't particulary happy about the idea of it at the time, but he followed up with a church blessing (and you can't put a [bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse][bless and do not curse] paper between a C of E marriage and blessing ceremony).
     
  16. bèlla

    bèlla ❤️ Supporter

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    I plan to marry outside the church as well. What matters most is what we do in the marriage. Not where its held.

    Yours in His Service,

    ~bella
     
  17. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I'm going to go out on a (slight) limb here, and share my theory as to why more and more, even quite Christian folks are choosing to have weddings and funerals outside the church. And that is, control.

    People like to be able to choose the setting, form, content, participants and so on in these occasions. And by and large, if they come to the church for them, while we might give them options, we retain control. And while we might think we have good reasons for that, a lot of the time, it's just not what people want.

    So unless we're offering something that they view as worth it in the trade-off - such as a spectacular building for photos - they will simply choose to go and do their own thing somewhere else.

    And I'm not even necessarily going to condemn them for that, but I think we probably need to be aware that this is a consequence of a culture clash between our liturgical heritage and current trends.
     
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  18. Tigger45

    Tigger45 Stand by Ukraine Supporter

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    Just for an example of practicing ‘Mainline’ Christians for practical input for the discussion.

    My wife and I got married in 2013 and chose to get married at the local courthouse for simplicity purposes.

    Our guest list included my wife’s son and bride. My daughter and both of my parents. (Full stop)
     
  19. Arcangl86

    Arcangl86 Newbie

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    I think there is something to that. Weddings aren't necessarily seen as the community gathering to celebrate and support the couple as they take a next step, but as a huge event focused on the couple.
     
  20. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    There's nothing wrong with a wedding ceremony held outside of the church. But as to why this is becoming more common lately, it may be because 1) people are thinking these days that they want to be creative or unique with their "big day" and 2) the costs are becoming really mind-blowing. Both of those have been encouraged, I'm guessing, by the wedding shows, bridal dress selections, and etc. that are popular on TV.
     
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