Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The Episcopal Church is not a "Diverse" Church
These words might shock you upon reading them. Surely the Episcopal Church is one of the most "diverse" churches, where people of all colors, races, and ethnicities can find solace and join in "God's mission" to provide a socially comfortable religious experience on Sunday mornings. All of the money we have poured into diveristy "programs" and other such rubbish must have paid off by now, surely, right? I'm afraid not. We are one of the whitest and oldest churches in the United States (and yes, we are the American church, with a very small number of parishes overseas). We arent' even temporally diverse, most of our people are 60 and older. Speaking of our overseas parishes, the Presiding Bishop likes to make a big deal about having them, perhaps you've heard her introduce herself as "the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and... [list of irrelevant countries]." I say these countries are irrelevant, not because the people there are unimportant nor that the Episcopal Church's presence there is unimportant but that the purpose that the Presiding Bishop wishes to exploit them for is useless. We are a white, American, Church. There is no point to "false advertise" for the Episcopal Church.
Perhaps you don't quite believe me, let's look at the numbers then. The Episcopal Church reports a total number of 2,125,012 members in 2010. Of that number, a total 1,951,907 are resident in Domestic Dioceses, i.e. in the United States. We only have 173,105 members in other parts, that's 8% of our membership. However, when we compare a number that really tells us what the Church is like, i.e. Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), we see that this international presence is even less significant. The Episcopal Church reports a total ASA of 697,880 for 2010. Of that number, 40,049 are from international parishes, or 5.7% of our average churchgoers. Oh, well, that's just overseas, you might say, we're surely a diverse church here in the States! Not quite, I must inform you. Of our membership, 87% is non-Hispanic, white. The largest non-white groups are African-Americans with 5% of our membership and a peculiar group called "multi-racial" with 4.5%.
Now, I'm saying all of this not to say that being multi-racial is a bad thing, far from it, I wish we would preach the Gospel among all races. My point is that the purpose of the Church is not to be a "politcally correct" organization. The culture tells us we have to have a multi-racial membership, and that's a good thing, but we are not called to be a microcosm of current ideological expectations but we are called to preach the Gospel to everyone, regardless of race. You see, by promoting ourselves as the "diverse" Church, we are really trivializing race and it can be quite offensive. Instead of spending millions of dollars to look multi-racial, how about we take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and actually be multi-racial? We can have a House of Bishops of retired hippies who have nothing better to do than "indaba" or we can raise up a generation of Gospel Anglicans and preach the Gospel of grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins and the only hope for mankind, oh wait, I mean humankind. But gender "equality" is another day.
Now a group of old, white bishops using "catchy" African-sounding words like "indaba" and "ubuntu" doesn't make us look diverse; it makes us look stupid.