The Anglican Church in Canada – once as powerful in the nation's secular life as it was in its soul – may be only a generation away from extinction, says a just-published assessment of the church's future.
The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.”
According to the report, the diocese – “like most across Canada” – is in crisis. The report repeats, without qualification or question, the results of a controversial study presented to Anglican bishops five years ago that said that at the present rate of decline – a loss of 13,000 members per year – only one Anglican would be left in Canada by 2061.
It points out that just half a century ago, 40 per cent of Vancouver Island's population was Anglican; now the figure is 1.2 per cent. Nationally, between 1961 and 2001, the church lost 53 per cent of its membership, declining to 642,000 from 1.36 million. Between 1991 and 2001 alone, it declined by 20 per cent.
Regular attendance is declining at all Canadian Christian churches, except for the Roman Catholic Church, whose small increase is attributed to immigration.
Also in Anglican Communion news:
America, the weekly Jesuit magazine based here in New York, recently bestowed its Campion Award on Dr. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.
In his fine remarks (transcript or audio), Archbishop Williams mused on the possibility that St. Edmund Campion, the English Jesuit martyr, may have rubbed shoulders with a young William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare was somebody who constantly wanted to affirm to the world that there was more in humanity than anyone might have suspected. “Is man no more than this?” asks King Lear. Shakespeare’s imaginative vision is in effect a protracted “no” to that question. Humanity is never just this or that. Humanity has possibilities, lured and shaped by grace, which are endless, fathomless, mysterious and terrible—for good and evil. The one thing we can never say about humanity is that now we know all we need to.