Episcopal Membership Continues to Decline

By Kirk Petersen

The Episcopal Church’s attendance and membership continued to decline in 2018 while plate and pledge income were roughly flat, according to annual data drawn from the parochial reports that all churches are required to submit.

In domestic dioceses for 2018:

  • Baptized membership was 1.68 million, down 2.1% from 2017 and down 18.5% since 2008.
  • Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) was 533,000, down 4.2% from 2017 and 24.4% since 2008.
  • Plate and pledge income was $1.33 billion, down 0.4% from 2017 and up 0.0015% since 2008.

Data from non-domestic dioceses are more volatile, and the numbers are much smaller. The church has a dozen dioceses in Latin America, the Caribbean, Taiwan, Micronesia and Europe, with a total baptized membership in 2018 of 160,000, up 0.4% from 2017 and down 5.2% from 2008. ASA for 2018 was 29,300, up 0.2% from 2017 and down 30.4% from 2008. The church does not report aggregated income from non-domestic dioceses.

Church membership has been in decline throughout American society. Gallup, Inc. reports that 50% of Americans polled in 2018 said they were members of a church, synagogue or mosque, compared with 61% in 2008 and 70% in 1998.

The Episcopal Church has a long history of publishing detailed attendance and income data, even though the numbers have not been flattering for many years. The Episcopal data cited above all is available on the church’s Research & Statistics site. It’s even possible to check on the membership of any individual church, on a clunky app on the Research homepage.


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