The Anglican Church of Canada is very shy about how many people attend its churches on a Sunday: there have been no attendance statistics since 2001. Even in 2001 or in prior years, the average Sunday attendance is not mentioned, rather the total members on the parish roll is given. Since I still receive a paper copy of the Niagara Anglican – a moment in the month that I have come to cherish – I have an uneasy suspicion that I am still on the “parish roll” of a Diocese of Niagara church.
The figures are almost certainly inflated, perhaps grossly inflated.
According to statistics published here, in 2001 there were 641,845 people on parish rolls. The total number of clergy was 3591.
In 1961, the church’s heyday, there were 1,320,649 on the parish rolls and 2,380 clergy.
I’m surprised no-one has noticed this before, but, as the number of clergy increased by 150%, the number of laity decreased by 211%. Church membership is varying inversely to the number of clergy: far be it from me to concoct a spurious causal relationship, but it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the clergy are driving out the laity.
This isn’t as surprising as it first might seem. If orthodox faith is to be found in an Anglican Church of Canada parish, the last place I would expect to find it would be in the clergy; lay people in numerous parishes are busy praying for the conversion of their leaders. Seminaries churn out sceptics rather than Christians, bishops complete the process by weeding out candidates whose faith miraculously emerges intact from seminary and, of course, scour the continent for “married” gay candidates in order to solidify their credentials as non-homophobic.
What’s the solution? Fire all the clergy – beginning with the bishops – and start again with missionary priests from Africa.