The Anglican Church of Canada has experienced a huge decline over the past 40 years, according to a new independent survey.
Over the period of 1961 to 2001 the Canadian region of the worldwide Anglican Church has lost 53 percent of its members, with numbers declining from 1.36 million to just 642,000.
An even more worrying sign for the worldwide Church is that the survey suggests that the decline is accelerating. In the period between 1981 and 1991, church membership decreased by 13 percent. However, between 1991 and 2001 the numbers reduced by a greater proportion portion of 20 percent.
Retired marketing expert Keith McKerracher carried out the report, according to the Church of England newspaper, which has been passed on to the House of Bishops.
After the report was released, McKerracher explained, "My point to the bishops was: Hey listen, guys, we’re declining much faster than any other church. We’re losing 12,836 Anglicans a year. That’s 2 percent a year. If you draw a line on the graph, there’ll only be one person left in the Canadian Anglican church by 2061."
The decline has coincided with the liberalization of the Church’s views over the past four decades – something that has also been witnessed in the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.). Ted Byfield, a long-time observer of Canadian culture, who has published a weekly news magazine in Canada for 30 years and now serves as general editor of The Christians, a 12-volume history of Christianity, has suggested that this liberalization of the Church is the core reason for the decline, reports Dutch Christian newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad.
McKerracher, however, also said that he did not believe that the Anglican leaders in Canada would respond in any significant way to the findings. He stated, "The church is in real crisis. They can’t carry on like it’s business as usual. They talk things to death. And my impression is that the bishops are not going to go around telling priests to shape up."
The Church of England newspaper was also told by Canadian Archbishop Andrew Hutchison that the report was a "wake-up call" and that he hoped that a new emphasis on social justice and ecumenical cooperation would halt the decline.