Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Fun With Church Statistics

I had a wild hair today and thought I'd do some quick comparisons of structure between various churches and the Episcopal Church. I crunched the numbers for the Methodists and the Roman Catholics before I ran out of steam. All numbers come either from the denomination itself or from Wikipedia. They are all for 2005.

Episcopalians had 100 dioceses, each with a bishop.

16,493 clergy which yields 165 clergy per bishop.

2,205,376 members which yields 22,053 members per bishop and 133 members per clergy.

787,271 ASA which yields 7,873 attendees per bishop and 48 attendees per clergy.

There are actually a fair number of additional bishops, but 100 gave me a nice round number to play with.

Methodists had 68 bishops

44,987 clergy which yields 660 clergy per bishop.

8,251,175 members which yields 121,340 members per bishop and 183 members per clergy.

I know the Methodist structure isn't really analogous, but it is a point of comparison. I couldn't find anything that would yield ASA for the Methodists.

Roman Catholics had 208 bishops.

42,839 priests which yields 205 clergy per bishop.

64,800,000 members which yields 311,538 members per bishop and 1,512 members per clergy.

22,680,000 ASA which yields 109,038 attendees per bishop and 529 attendees per clergy.

This confirmed my suspicion. The Episcopal Church is ludicrously over-staffed. I derived ASA by taking membership and multiplying by the percentage of Catholics who reported attending church in a given week (Gallup).

The real eye opener for me was comparing members per clergy between the Methodists and the Episcopalians. Why on earth do we need or even have 100 dioceses?


Anonymous said...

I have extensive experience with both United Methodist (work) and Episcopalian (worship)churches in Louisiana. The politics of the Episcopal church in Louisiana at least caused the split and formation of a more conservative Diocese of Western Louisiana just over 25 years ago. The more conservative and rural churches of western Louisiana felt that they weren't comfortable in the Diocese of Louisiana which where a lot of power and money were centered in the somewhat more liberal and urban centers of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Thus the split.

In the United Methodist Church the judicatory is different and thus the politics are also more stable. I can't imagine such a problem with rural conservatives in rebelion against urban liberals. It just couldn't happen. Also, I don't believe that UM bishops make annual visitations to each church, so there isn't the travel problem in covering the many churches spread over many miles.

Matthew said...

Good point. But the RC's also have fewer bishops per priest and per attendee. It's been my (limited) experience and my understanding that the RC bishops are quite active in dealing with their subordinates.

But bishops aren't the whole story. Bishops are supposed to be the pastors to their clergy, and if you look at the ratios of clergy to attendees, then the numbers start to really look awful. 48 ASA per clergy is truly horrible.

Admittedly, a large percentage of those clergy are non-stipendiary, but removing them from the equation makes the bishops' ratio worse.

I'm sure Western Louisiana is self-sustaining, but what about dioceses such as North Dakota? And what about dioceses such as Bethlehem, which is self-sustaining now, but likely won't be in the foreseeable future?

Anonymous said...

I don't know, but it is interesting to me that in Louisiana, the RC has seven dioceses covering the same geographic area that we do with two diocese, and the UM cover with one.

Matthew said...

According to Wikipedia, Louisiana had in 2006 a population of 4,287,768 of whom 30% were Roman Catholic (1,286,330). Seven dioceses mean an average of around 187,000 members per diocese. TEC has two dioceses which comprise a total of around 32,000 in 2005 for an average of 16,000.

I'm not sure how many clergy there are in Louisiana in either denomination. I could figure it out, but I'm tired and need to start packing.