How many CHURCHGOING Anglicans does Lambeth represent?
By David Chislett
July 27, 2008
A lot of things have been said over the last few months about just who represents whom in the Anglican world. GAFCON, for example, is pilloried by the media and the leadership at Lambeth as a "breakaway" movement.
But, is this right?
Already some journalists are beginning to realize that while the Lambeth Conference might have a large number of bishops in attendance, those bishops actually represent a SMALL MINORITY of the world's Anglicans.
I have done some informed arithmetic, and the result is surprising.
When provinces such as Nigeria count "Anglicans" they mean those who actually go to church. In the First World the number of "Anglicans" includes those who are "C. of E." but who never darken the door of a church, many of whom are plainly not even "believers" in any real sense of the term. Now, I'm not saying that they don't matter, that we don't love them, that we don't have a ministry to them, or that they're they're not distantly related to us.
What I AM saying is that we should compare apples with apples, so as to avoid the figures being skewed (and perhaps grossly exaggerated) by the inclusion of "non-practising" or "nominal" Anglicans in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, increasingly in South Africa, and even, I'm told, Brazil.
In Australia, for example, that there are just under 4 million Anglicans, according to the last census (2006). But we know that the National Life Church Survey puts attendees on any given Sunday at 180,000. (Even that figure is skewed in terms of the real picture when the disproportionate chunk of Sydney Diocese is taken into account!)
However, to get a true comparison, let's subtract from 75 million the estimated number of "nominal" Anglicans:
24 million (Eng)
3.8 million (Aust)
3.2 million (others in New Zealand, USA, Canada, South Africa, Brazil etc) and you get . . .
44 million Anglicans who actively identify with their church Sundays.
Of those, 39 to 40 million are the "Global South", AND WERE MOSTLY REPRESENTED AT GAFCON.
Only 4, maybe 5, million come from liberal "First World" Anglicanism.
So . . .
39 million (GAFCON) as against 5 million (Lambeth).
That should put the Lambeth Conference in its place!
So . . . WHO are the "breakaways"?
---- Bishop David Chislett is a bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion. he is based in brisbane, Australia
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