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Hallo again to all.

The numbers are out again this year.

Both the Church of England and the US-based Episcopal Church have released the annual round of statistics on church membership and attendance. (The last year for which published statistics are available for Canada is 2007; in 2013, Roman Catholics edged out Anglicans in New Zealand as the largest religious grouping on those islands; the Anglican population of Australia peaked in 1921. Hong Kong seems be growing, like the church in Nepal and Tanzania and Nigeria, but the stark realities of religion in the wealthy First World Anglosphere can't be ignored.)

It is true that a church need not be large to be healthy, and it is likewise true that many ministries of education and other kinds of diaconia seem to be able to thrive in the absence of active churchgoing. It is still further true that the rate of decline has decelerated slightly in some places. We may also be in the midst of a great winnowing of chaff—that much has certainly been promised.

But we have children—two of us will have a new one shortly—and we want them to have good communities in which to grow into their baptismal promises. Who will teach them to fight manfully under the banner of the cross? We will do our best, but prevailing winds make this hard. We need structure as much as friendship, places to meet, and places to sing.

Fra Angelico

We also need the numbers each year to keep us abreast of hatching, matching, dispatching—what works where, and what doesn't. The ministry of statisticians is a thankless one in most of the countries where this magazine is read, but there are things we can and should glean. Preaching makes or breaks a service, and is often better omitted than done poorly. Pastoral focus can be the difference between someone who comes to church once, and someone who stays. Daily prayer is the lifeblood of the Church, for priests and for their people alike. The Gospel is irresistible, but not when we make obstacles or stumbling blocks to obscure it. Simplicity and dignity are—aside from royal weddings and military funerals—lost and gone in public life, but we have them in abundance to give to the world for whom the King of Love stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross.

We very much hope to see you next week.

Our Signatures

Richard Mammana


All of us at Anglicans Online

16 September 2018

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