Who Is the Church? Reflecting the Numbers
In our role of Recorder of Ordinations, the Church Pension Group collects data that helps The Episcopal Church gain a clearer understanding of itself. Matthew Price, PhD, CPG’s Senior Vice President, Research and Data, has joined forces with Rev. Meghan Froehlich, Director of the Office for Transition Ministry, and the Rev. Molly James, PhD, Deputy Executive Officer of General Convention, to travel around sparking data-driven discussions about the present and the future of the Church.
Whether speaking at the All About Love Festival, the Council of Deans of Episcopal Seminaries meeting, or the House of Bishops, among others, this trio has been turning statistics into food for thought.
At CPG’s Episcopal Business Administration Conference in September, for example, Meghan Froehlich told attendees about the shift from full-time to part-time parish positions across the United States. Molly James talked about the dwindling numbers of congregants, adding, “While we may be losing people, we’re not losing money. This may be a time of decline in membership for the Church, but it is also an opportunity for transformation. We have resources and a generous legacy that will help us shape a hopeful future.”
This hope for the future was on full display at our conference, where administrators swapped tested and proposed solutions for adapting to the Church’s new realities, from covenant partnerships resulting in full-time pay for priests to rethinking the leadership roles of lay employees.
The data CPG has collected from bishops, priests, and deacons on race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation has not only enriched the Church’s commitment to Becoming Beloved Community but also has illuminated trends in ordination, deployment, and compensation that could affect decisions the Church makes about its future.
“Holding up a mirror, giving the Church an accurate picture of itself,” Matthew Price said, “gives people the opportunity to have important conversations that they might not otherwise have.”