Some thoughts on the extinction of the Anglican Church of Canada

From Maclean’s:

When his book Unknown Gods was published 22 years ago, University of Lethbridge sociologist and pollster Reginald Bibby painted a rather dreary picture of where Canada’s churches would be by about 2015. … He had accurately forecasted a long, drawn-out decline for the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church. …  (March 2015) More.


A recent working Paper entitled Anglican Church of Canada Statistics by Brian Clarke & Stuart Macdonald sheds some interesting light on the decline in Canadian Anglicanism. Their data confirms that which I have known intuitively [and the bishops have denied] for years: membership of the ACoC is locked into the graveyard spiral. From an all time high of 1,365,313 members in the early sixties membership of the ACoC has plummeted to 600,000 in 2001, and if that is not devastating enough for Fred Hiltz and his “beloved church” during the same period the overall Canadian population had been booming with the national population increasing at just over 60% from 1961 through to 2001, that is from 18,236,247 people in 1961 to 29,639,030 in 2001. Not surprisingly, Sunday school membership and the sacraments have followed the general trend into the little boy’s room.

It seems certain that the Anglican membership figures are also inflated, perhaps enormously inflated.

The topic as a whole begs a couple of questions: Of prime interest, “When will the once mighty Anglican stratocruiser’s deadly downward spiral end with obliteration as it impacts the hard deck of human indifference?” Various calculations exist: I am told that the current projections indicate zero membership in the ACoC by 2050; although an earlier demise around 2030 is more realistic. (2013)

Reality check: These churches, Anglican and United (and the many American churches like them), were once a major part of the culture of the traditional working and middle classes of North America.

But the vast majority of the grandchildren of current members either do not attend or do not care, and will drift away. Their scattered and highly flexible children will have no idea what those greatfolks thought was so important anyway.

Christianity thrived as a basis for relationships: God was Father,  Mary (for Catholics) was Mother, human beings were the children of God, etc. But then relationships must be important, right?

Today, relationships are fungible in the face of ever-changing identities, and government, rather than people to whom one is related in some way, increasingly supplies the needs of life.

The willingness of these churches to accommodate the new culture,via approval of abortion and gay marriage (and euthanasia next?) in order to survive is irrelevant. The new, growing culture doesn’t need them. It has pot, hookups, abortion, euthanasia, meditation toys, and the grievance industry. Also, it has increasingly meaningless degrees, except in the STEM fields.

It will be sad if dying former mainline churches drift into open anti-Semitism, just to be up-to-date, when they could have died honourably.

See also: “Identity” as a club to beat, not meet

  • Ed

    When you stand for so little, when church is pretty much Dr. Phil with stained glass, i can stay home and watch it on tv

    • Justin St.Denis

      No kidding. The audio is way better that way, too.

  • Spatchcocked

    Apropos of nothing I note in Adios America Ann Coulter observes in last 7 years 800000 Muslims immigrants into USA but only 12 from Great Britain.

    • Raymond Cameron

      How many of the 12 Brits were muslims?

      • Shebel


  • BradThomas

    Truth claims aside, if the worldview of Christianity has merit (is beneficial to society in some fashion, satisfies a need in at least some humans) then one would assume that a hard core of believers will endure. And times change … perhaps in a hundred years, a thousand, they will venture forth and proselytise a more receptive world.

  • Shebel

    That is true . Most of are not all that religious any more . What we don’t like is to have some inbred monkey telling us that their religion is superior.

  • Shebel

    Are you making this shit up as you go along ?
    ‘It will be sad if dying former mainline churches drift into open
    anti-Semitism, just to be up-to-date, when they could have died

    Only a fool would write this garbage.

    • Justin St.Denis

      Then why take the time to comment? I don’t bother commenting on any items I find overly whimsical or silly. Or do you just mean to insult? One cannot engage intellectually with another with whom one disagrees by launching insults. Invitations are far more effective IF intellectual exchange/debate is what you are after.

  • Jim Horne

    Never Take a Christian Leftist to the Zoo

  • Jay Currie

    It is interesting in a horrifying way to watch the Anglican Church self imolate. Thriving congregations are kicked out of their churches if they fail to toe the progressive line. Clergy are more interested in debating pews versus chairs than preaching about divine salvation. Lefty crackpots see gay marriage as far more important than the declining number of Anglican marriages of any sort.

    Many Anglican dioceses are run more like departments of religious studies than actual churches. With the result that even Bishops find discussions of faith a bit uncomfortable. And, all the while, there is a conscious effort made to bury the cultural tradition of the “Church of England”. Small wonder that the mainline Anglican church is losing members.

    • Justin St.Denis

      Jay, you are very insightful. I wish I kept up as much as you seem to. The Anglican Church has been utterly destroyed, and your post goes a long way in explaining why to me.

  • john s

    The accommodation of churches to the new culture is the problem. A church that stands for nothing loses its moral authority. Ask any Muslim. People seek God to find an authoritative father, not a permissive 2nd aunt.

  • Exile1981

    One of my hobbies is town historian for our small town.

    Population has gone from 600 at the time Alberta was made a province to a high of 1100 just before ww2. Of the 300 local men who signed up in ww1 about 200 returned; for ww2 the return rate was about 48%. After ww2 the population was 650. The population was mostly stable around 500 from the 60’s till early 80’s when it dropped down to about 350. In 2001 it was down to 325, but 2012 census showed 502 people again. The reversal since 2001 is mostly due to widowed seniors passing away and their homes being bought by young families.

    In 1901 the town had a Lutheran, Anglican, United and RC churches. There was also a synagog as well.

    The Lutherans had about 25 members on the books from 1901 till the 70’s when the children all started moving away. It closed in 1983.

    The RC church was huge and boasted 200 active members just before ww2. The last 10 regular attendies decided to close it because of structural issues in the early 80’s. Since then the building has collapsed into ruin.

    The Synagog burned down during a fire in 1908 that burned down the west half of the town. The few records show at the time it served only 2 families and was never rebuilt. The fire started in the flour mill and spread to hay barn behind the massive liverly stables and after that took 3 days to put out.

    The United church had 150 active members just before ww2 and by the 90’s had less than 20. In 2005 it was bought by a group and is now used for non-denominational services with about 50 regulare attendies.

    Our Anglican church is one of the 5 oldest in Alberta. In 1889 it had 40members and was upto over 100 regular attendies in ww2. This required both an early and a late service because of seating. It is the only one of the originals still active with a membership of 40 but only 4 regular attendies as one member has driven dozens away.

    In 2004 the Mormons built a huge church in town which only holds one service a month and can seat 200 but has 5 members.

    From 1996 to the early 2002 the Jehova Witnesses had a regular service in an old building in town. It closed when 8 of the 12 members where arrested for running a chop shop and drug lab on an acreage outside of town. The other 4- which were a different family moved away.

    There was also a “other” church that has services one day a month and draws from outside the community but it closed a few years ago.

    • Richard_Romano

      That’s kinda depressing. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few photographs of said churches, the RC church in particular. I feel badly for what has happened there.

      • Exile1981

        The RC church lost its steeple a few years back, the onelong basement wall collapsed 2 summers ago making it unsafe to enter and the brick chimney came down last winter. Someone bought it last winter but other than filling the yard with dead vehicles and old bath tubs they didn’t even stabilize the wall that is collapsing from the lack of support after the basement wall collapsed.

        • Richard_Romano

          Wow, well thanks for the information. What is the name of the RC church there? I want to Google it. Blessings to you.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    The embrace of left-wing politics by mainline churches is proving to be the kiss of death. Roman Catholicism has been buffeted by these forces up against a 2,000 year tradition. So far, it appears that Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelical churches are holding their own.

  • Spatchcocked

    This Pope is a real dope….the Obama of the Rock of St Peter…by the time he’s done organising and fundamentally transforming the Church we’ll have altar girls and the Host communion wafer will be gluten free.
    All around me I see change and decay.

    • Carlos_Perera

      Actually, we’ve had altar girls in the U. S. since the 1990s (it’s not as if we had a shortage of straight young men entering the seminaries or anything). But, no doubt, Pope Francis will think of other outrages to impose on the Church during what remains of his pontificate; personally, I bet he has already decided to loosen the restriction on remarriage following divorce.

    • Shebel

      The Pope is a Dope that should be hanging from a ROPE.

  • Spatchcocked

    He’s a simpleton….no John or Benedict He……

  • D Cunningham


  • useless opinion

    The best place for sinners is in church, only when the church tells them that Christ’s direction to “Go forth and sin no more” is obeyed. Can you imagine a preacher or a reverend telling women to follow the New Testament? As a full on Northern Baptist, I cant go to any church, not one preaches the true word, and no one follows the true faith. I went for a visit to a friend’s church and as soon as I walked in the door, it was as if a stripper pole dropped from the ceiling and every single harridan/termagant in the building started auditioning to be my next wife. ( I will never remarry) These women cant recite one verse of the true gospel and God help them if they ever had to interpret the King James Version of the Bible. The modern church in Canada spends all of its’ time preaching in a fashion that wont offend two major groups that sit in their pews, the nearly dead and unmarried sinful women. The church encourages divorce, broken and perverted families, and argues against the majesty of Christ at every turn. I am usually a pretty optimistic person, but the current church in Canada and Her leaders, are going to have a pretty nasty time at judgement day, just warning you all ahead of time. Prepare, “They have Moses and the Prophets”, so they cannot say that they did not know.

  • Denis

    the church has moved away from true Christianity so why should people keep going?