Monday, August 14, 2017

The Diocese by the Numbers: Next Door

I have run some of the same analyses on the Diocese of Washington, and have come up with some quite surprising results: although some of the aggregate numbers are similar, the details are almost entirely different.

Let's start with some geography, and then some history. The diocese of Washington was carved out of the Diocese of Maryland because what at its peak was over two hundred parishes (and probably close to it, back in the day) is way too much for one bishop to administer. (Easton, the eastern shore portion, was split off much sooner, I would guess due to travel issues during the Civil War.) Back then, both dioceses had an urban core surrounded by a great sea of rural space, but this similarity was deceptive, and the evolution of both the city and especially the suburbs would lead to very different social contexts for the two.

Washington, now, consists of a central mass of urban density wrapped by a blanket of outer suburbs that fades to nothing on the south side, and bracketed by two very different rural areas. The Western end is like Diocese of Maryland territory, with a mixture of farm and outer suburbs and a sprinkling of late Vicky carpenter gothic town churches. The southern one contains the oldest settlements in the state and is served by scattered chapels of ease, mostly Georgian in style. The diocese also contains the black heartland of the state. Maryland by contrast has a large rural western area which is isolated, very white, and Appalachian more than farm rural, and the built-up urban area is much smaller, but also poorer. Howard (in the diocese of Maryland) and Montgomery (in Washington) are at the top of the income pyramid in the entire country, but Montgomery is much larger, and over a third of it is essentially city, whereas Howard has no truly urban area at all (Columbia being, when all is said and done, an experiment in making a really large subdivision). Economically, DC and its suburbs have waxed and waxed, while Baltimore has waned.

In the orthodoxy wars, the two dioceses were both focal points, but with very different issues, policies, and outcomes. The big story in DC, of course, was the fight over imposing Jane Dixon on several conservative parishes; the diocese won, in the end, and I don't know of any parishes which left all or in part. Maryland, on the other hand, was a focus of resistance, as symbolized in the Baltimore Declaration, but also as realized in the departure of two parishes and the riving of St. Peter's Ellicott City, which has suffered through other crises since and is only now, perhaps, showing signs of recovery.

And then, of course, there is the National Cathedral, which shows something else about DC: it has big destination parishes.

So, enough prelude, and on to the music. Washington also shows ASA loss through the decade, but not to the same degree: 23% to Maryland's 27%. It lost fewer parishes as well, three to Maryland's ten, though in the latter case there were actually twelve losses and two missions started. I don't have information on whether any of the Washington parishes started in this time frame, but there's nothing to suggest that any did. Now, the cathedral, in 2005, accounted for more than 10% of diocesan ASA, so when it is excluded, the two dioceses have close to comparable attendance, with Washington running about 2,000 larger at both ends of the decade. But the cathedral's attendance tanked starting in 2012, which perhaps not coincidentally is when Gary Hall arrived as dean, so that attendance in 2015 was about two-thirds that in 2005. The rest of the parishes declined, in the aggregate, 21%.

In the midst of this, another number stands out: parishes in Washington are just bigger. I didn't go through the work needed to get specific numbers for each parish, so I cannot give a median, but the mean parish in Washington (ignoring the cathedral) had an ASA of 163 in 2005 and 135 a decade later; Maryland's average parish started smaller (113) and shrunk more, to say nothing of the closures.

Staffing is another area where there are conspicuous differences. Washington doesn't do permanent deacons, and thus I found a single deacon listed in the entire diocese. I didn't keep track of associate positions, but I did some of the same analysis for rectors and priests-in-charge that I did for Maryland, and found strikingly different patterns. Maryland, recall, has a lot of home-grown priests and many cases where the newly-ordained stepped directly into being the sole priest in a parish. Neither pattern obtains in Washington: half as many rectors in Washington were ordained in that diocese, and only five went directly from being ordained to running a parish. (One of the latter was ordained in Maryland by, yes, Eugene Sutton.) Beyond that, Washington rectors represent a wider range of dioceses, with the more conservative dioceses better represented (which is to say, at all): Two were ordained by Duncan in Pittsburgh; one from Salmon in South Carolina. But then there is not a lot of commonality between the lists for the two dioceses: the total number is about the same, but only eleven show up in both lists, and other than the two home dioceses, only Virginia has more than one in both lists, no doubt due to the bishop there accosting VTS graduates. Only five parishes were in transition (I think-- there was one person whose peregrinations greatly confused this) as compared to three times the number in Maryland.

And then there is money. I have recently come across this table which is particularly interesting, as it reports non-P&P income, such as endowments. The range in the latter is extreme: ignoring Navaholand, which gets major support from the national church, on the one end we see New York in which P&P accounts for just under half of total revenue, and at the other Upper South Carolina, where P&P accounts for 95%. Now, the cathedral again undoubtedly skews Washington numbers, considering that out of P&P of $33M, it supplies $2M; I have no idea how much it skews endowment income but the contribution must be substantial. Nonetheless, again, in nearly every way Washington is more prosperous than Maryland: people give more, the pledges are larger, and the non-P&P income is larger; and all of this is spread across fewer parishes with more attendees. The only place were Maryland comes out ahead is in the plate, where the average attendee gives $371 a year versus $319 in Washington. One is tempted to assume this reflects the basic prosperity of the two regions.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Diocese by the Numbers: Clergy

Let me say first off that this is largely going to be about rectors, vicars, and priests-in-charge, mostly because only twenty out of 104 parishes have more than one priest, though nineteen have a deacon (with some overlap with those with assisting clergy). I also counted associated retired clergy as best I could; these tended to be concentrated in a few parishes, and I'm pretty sure the list of supply clergy would add to that considerably.

Collecting data was a bit of an adventure; mostly I worked through parish websites, but resorted to the Parish Finder when I came upon a website that didn't say who the rector was. The diocesan parish finder is very good, featuring a Google-maps-enabled list that was easy to use. Every parish has a website; the diocese saw to that a long time back, but some are more forthcoming than others. The parish finder, however, has a lot of trouble with handling the problem cases, because of various naming inconsistencies, and in a number of cases I was forced to list all parishes in the Baltimore area and go through them by zip code.

Once I had the name of a priest, the clergy finder usually came up with a date for the current position, and ordination date, bishop and diocese. Usually. Finding people was made somewhat annoying because the search could not deal with dashes, periods, or apostrophes in the name anywhere; the flip side was that once I got those out, the search was very aggressive and generally found the person right away, and eventually I was able to find everyone. That didn't always mean I found good information: sometimes position data wasn't recorded, and for priests received or transferred I could not tell where they came from, though in half the cases I could get some idea from the parish website.

I counted people as follows: everything was based on the present head of the parish except that if someone had been named rector but not yet assumed the position, I still counted them. The alternative was a significant bump in the interim numbers, which I didn't see as helpful. I recorded the date they came, their ordination date, and the ordaining diocese, and also counted total priests ignoring retired associates, number of deacons, and other associates. Cases where I could not get this info were divided into interims, supply (some parishes only use supply priests as a going thing), transfers (i.e., not ordained in ECUSA, but this doesn't include those where I could find out where they came from), and no info at all.

So, the big numbers: of the 104 parishes, four use supply priests, twelve are in transition, and three I had no info on; three were transfers from unknown dioceses. That leaves 83 parishes where I had data on the principal priest. And here is where Maryland starts to look interesting: 38 of those were priested in the diocese, sixteen of them since Sutton's consecration. His hands must be burning.

What is more striking is that at least fifteen priests seem to have come into rectorship directly from ordination, including two cases where they were ordained after they took charge of a parish. There are five more who took a rectorship within two years of ordination. There appear to be some 4-5 cases where someone was ordained specifically for a particular parish. Median years from ordination to a parish charge is seven; the mean is much higher mostly due to a few very long-serving priests.

A similar pattern is seen when we look at tenure, in which we can see those few long-timers directly:

In fact the second and fifth longest tenures belong to a married couple, serving out in western Maryland, but they are quite exceptional: the median tenure is six years, and the vast majority of priests got their positions under Sutton. I cannot say whether this represents a change from the past; the large number of transitions suggests that it might be, but as I don't have a good way to get tenures for recent departures, I cannot say.

The priests I can get info on represent a relatively small number of dioceses. Maryland, as I mentioned, accounts for about 40% of the total; twenty-eight other dioceses accounted for the other others, including four outside ECUSA (two in Africa, one each in Canada and the Bahamas). Of those, eight dioceses supplied more than one priest, with Virginia ordaining five. They do not represent a particularly theologically diverse group, although Howe in Central Florida did ordain one, and there are some from generally moderate dioceses (e.g. two from Southern Ohio).

I have no word from Bishop Sutton or from anyone else for that matter about the strategy, but what we are seeing here is an experiment in a clerisy which is relatively inexperienced and locally made. But not necessarily all that young: I have no age statistics, but there is still a lot of "have a career and then get ordained" going on, though associate priests appear to tend young, and female. Women head 37% of parishes with a permanent head, but it's clear that this number is going to climb, and increasingly, prominent parishes are headed by women. How does this compare to other dioceses? Well, in my next post we'll be taking a look at Washington.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Diocese by the Numbers; Money

Let me start by saying that I have no idea how endowments fit into the money picture. "Plate and Pledge" tends to suggest that endowment income is not included, but if someone knows otherwise, by all means say so in the comments. Here's the thing: if they be included in the numbers about to be discussed, then we're looking at a worst-case analysis; they be excluded, then the will tend to ameliorate the results.

On the diocesan chart, one can see that P&P has hardly changed in a decade, and indeed as we shall see, parishes tend to show something of the same pattern. But there is a wrinkle in that, because, as we saw previously, attendance is almost universally shrinking. What's compensating for this is that those who are staying are giving more, by a factor of about 42%:

That produces the following chart, showing percent change in P&P, both with and without the 42% adjustment. Unadjusted, parishes tend to show a slight increase; adjusted, P&P shows losses.

I should say at this point that I do not know how the adjustment factor compares with inflation over the same period, but it isn't unreasonable to surmise that it reflects increases in attendee income. It is striking how close the adjusted 2005 distribution of P&P per attendee is to the 2015 numbers:

So now we get to the question of money as it relates to parish viability. One might crudely divide parish spending into four parts:

  • Keeping lights on
  • Keeping the roof up
  • Keeping the priest going
  • Outreach and charity
Please don't comment on this or that line item I've left out; I said it was crude. Anyway, the diocese does give guidelines for the third item, based upon the size of the parish. So here we have P&P versus attendance, with those guidelines marked:
In this case I have truncated the chart on the right to show only those parishes with ASA of 100 or less, in order to show the smaller parishes in greater detail. The general diagonal trend of the data points continues, rising considerably faster than the guideline trend, so that the bigger parishes are obviously not at financial risk. That's obviously not the case at the low end. The orange line represents the recommended total compensation, and the red line is the lower end of the range they give; the green line marks the border between the lowest and second lowest attendance categories.

Looking at this chart, it's hard to see how any parish with ASA below forty is independently viable; most of them cannot afford even to compensate the priest, much less keep the doors open, without considerable aid from the diocese. With ASA between forty and eighty, the situation is not so dire, but there are a large proportion which lack adequate income. Above eighty, the compensation standards retreat as a threat. OK, so here is where that fits into the larger picture: twenty-four parishes do not have an income sufficient to meet the standards, or somewhat less than a quarter of all parishes. Just looking at ASA, sixty-four parishes have attendance of eighty or less, or 61% of all parishes.

What this means in terms of diocesan finances is that, just to maintain the status quo, there has to be a substantial transfer from the larger, wealthier parishes to the small, even ignoring the possibility of priests working part-time or serving multiple parishes. And the situation is vulnerable to economic deflation on the one hand and further losses on the other.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Diocese by the Numbers: Attendance

So, having looked at the diocese in the large, in this round we will be looking at parish attendance. For those who are new to these analyses, I reiterate my disregard of the membership numbers, because they are poorly maintained: they tend to change abruptly when a rector leaves because the interim directs someone to clean up the rolls, but as a rule there isn't much of a correlation between membership and attendance. Besides, parishes are dependent upon activity, not mere membership, and ASA is the best gauge of that activity we have.

First, the averages. Parishes tend to the small side: while the mean attendance in 2015 was 92 people on a Sunday, the median attendance was considerably smaller, at 67 attendees, and the largest parish (St. Anne's Annapolis) has ASA of 491, 50 more than the next largest (St. John's Ellicott City). A bit under three quarters of parishes have under a hundred attending on the average Sunday.

The shrinkage in a decade is striking, because it appears almost across the board. First of all, thirteen parishes closed, while only two were started: St. Hilda's, to replace St. Timothy's Catonsville, and Church in the Square, a mission in Baltimore which is too new to appear in the statistics.Working with the others, we find in 2005 a mean ASA of 120 and a median of 88. Now, this is biased by the losses: even considering the size of St. Tim's (it was a pretty big parish as those things go), most parishes which closed did so because they weren't viable, and therefore could be presumed to fall at the low end; it is likely that the averages for all parishes active in 2005 were someone lower than the calculated values. But the message for those that survived is clear: they showed considerable losses.

And indeed, very few parishes showed any gains, and these were all small parishes. Only thirteen parishes had gains, and all of them had ASA under 100; on a percentage basis, all the large gains were in parishes with small enough attendance to where even gaining a single attendee made a substantial difference. Three parishes showed no change, and all the rest showed losses. The pattern of losses is quite different from that of the gains: the biggest parishes tended to have somewhat smaller losses, but even so, excepting the top ten parishes, the losses are spread out evenly across a range up to 60%, and the number four parish (All Saints Frederick) showed a loss of 42%.

And in absolute numbers, the losses in larger parishes dominated gains (note that the losers on top of the axis in this chart):

There is a distinct geographic pattern to the gains: six of the ten parishes showing substantial percentage gains are to the west, with Harriet Chapel Thurmont the only one east of Catoctin Mountain. By contrast, there is little pattern to the losers, but most of the closures were in or near Baltimore, the exception being in or near Frederick. The largest parishes are central, with two exceptions:

  • St. Anne’s, Annapolis
  • St. John’s, Ellicott City
  • Redeemer, Baltimore
  • St. Margaret’s, Annapolis
  • All Saints, Frederick
  • Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore
  • St. James’, Lafayette Square (Baltimore)
  • Christ Church, Columbia
  • St. Martin’s in-the-Field, Severna Park
  • St. Thomas, Owings Mills
  • St. James, Lothian
  • St. John’s, Hagerstown
Again, the smallest parishes show no particular pattern.

While I cannot, with the data I have, show the closed parishes in the various breakdowns, we do know how much attendance these parishes represented. There is a difference of 565 in attendance between the total for diocese reported in 2005 and the sum for the 104 surviving parishes (omitting Church on the Square). The diocese reported 116 parishes in 2005, so the mean ASA for the departures and closures was about 47; together they represented a bit over 4% of the total. The loss of these parishes accounted for over 15% of the total loss, which was %27 of 2005 ASA; but the surviving parishes, themselves, had a 24% decline.

The overall picture is thus negative in almost every way. We are losing parishes, and our parishes are losing people. Unless the pattern changes dramatically, continued losses will lead to continued closures.

In the next post: money.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Diocese by the Numbers: Prelude

Well, I changed my mind, and I have gone through all the parish charts, so I'm going to take a post or two to run over the diocesan statistics over the past decade (which is to say, from 2005 to 2015).

Before I talk methodology I would like to talk about some of the overall numbers from the diocesan tables. The diocese as a whole has seen losses in numbers characteristic of the church as a whole, with ten years of 3% per annum losses adding up to a loss for the decade of 35%. This includes the loss of fifteen parishes, of which two left and the others closed. One mission started, not counting St. Hilda's, the replacement for St. Timothy Catonsville; it will not post numbers until 2016.

So how do the parish numbers reflect this? Well, ignoring the closures and departures, only eight parishes showed increases in attendance. Parishes tend to run on the small side: there were only eight parishes with attendance over two hundred in 2015. Three parishes showed no change; all of the rest showed declines. Financially, plate and pledge (P&P) shows a consistent trend of a 42% gain per attendee, regardless of parish size; that said, a lot of parishes do not see P&P income sufficient to support a full time priest.

So now, some methodology. I used two main sources: the charts from Research and Statistics, and the diocesan journal, which lists parishes and closure dates, if relevant. I also had at my disposal a listing of current ASA from the diocesan convention. This last was used as a cross check on ASA as calculated from the charts. Now, the charts, as images, present some difficulties leading to some small inaccuracies. I calculated values by (effectively) counting pixels; it was not clear, however, exactly where the zero line was, and the number of people/dollars represented by one pixel varied according to the overall scale. The quality of these numbers was further reduced for ASA because the determining value for overall scale was membership, typically four to six times attendance. Comparison of actual and calculated numbers showed a slight tendency to undercounting, on the order of 1%. There are likewise errors of the same order, aggravated by difficulties in precisely locating the centers of the dots on the chart, for P&P; I had nothing to work with to check parish-by-parish values on this, however.

A more serious problem arises in counting parishes themselves. The numbers I calculated from the convention journal do not precisely correspond to the totals on the Red Book; it appears to be the case that parishes may continue to be counted for several years after their actual closure. The more serious problem is that there are plain errors in the journal, which get worse as one goes backward in time. In looking at parish websites I found one parish which it did not list, for example. It also does not give dates for foundation of parishes; this was less of a problem since very few parishes are newly founded. In the end I found it necessary to cut off counts of parishes at 1960.

The loss of parishes presents another issue: in some respects the numbers for 2005 are distorted because I do not have a source for those parishes which have disappeared from the records. This is ameliorated to some degree for attendance, because the total attendance for the diocese is recorded, and therefore I can work out how much is represented by the missing parishes; for plate and pledge, however, I have nothing. When we look at these numbers, however, it seems to me that this lack is probably not significant.

So let us start with three charts for the diocese in aggregate. The first is that from Research and Statistics:

Here we see the typical decline of a mainstream east coast diocese. And here we have the parishes:

Finally, we have the average attendance per active parish, by year:

This last chart is most significant, because it shows a more serious problem: it's not just closing parishes, but parishes shrinking regardless of closures.

Next we will look at attendance on a parish-by-parish basis.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Parish "Growth"

Lately there has been a trope in this diocese of stories about "growing" congregations. For instance, we have this ENS story joining St. John's Havre de Grace to Resurrection Baltimore; meanwhile we have this upbeat Baltimore Sun piece on St. Peter's Ellicott City.

So let's look at the history of these places, courtesy of Research and Statistics handy charts. The picture they paint isn't terribly upbeat: yes, these parishes show increases, but only if you look at the past few years. Starting with St. John's: ASA in 2005 was about 45, and ASA in 2015 was just under fifty. What we're seeing here may turn into growth in the long run, but what the chart shows is a marginal parish which had a brush with dissolution. Resurrection is a bit harder to puzzle out because the apparent metamorphosis into a Spanish-language mission isn't reflected anywhere that I can see. But there's that chart again, which shows a parish on the verge of extinction transforming into— well, into a marginal parish with negligible income, for with P&P of under $20K the diocese must surely be providing a lot of support.

The situation at St. Peter's is better-documented, not to say notorious. I don't have numbers from before when the rector and a chunk of the congregation went off tot he Antiochians, but ASA in 2015 was roughly two-thirds the 120 or so who attended on an average Sunday in 2005. In the middle the parish nearly came apart, what with internal strife and then the (probably unrelated) murder of one of the outgoing co-rectors. Again, the message is crisis survived rather than a model of growth, for ASA of around 70 is at the low end of viability, though at least their finances are sound enough. Meanwhile, St. John's Mt. Washington (actually a neighborhood in Baltimore) has abandoned its building in favor of the chapel at a nearby retirement community. This is being spun as a positive thing but ASA in the 30-40 range and P&P of $40K and dropping more or less steadily means a congregation that could no longer afford a building and was lucky to find another home.

Here's the ugly truth in this diocese: attendance has dropped, fairly steadily, over a decade, with attendance in 2015 about 73% of what it was in 2005. That parallels the drop in the national church. I'm not going to go through all 100-odd parishes and missions in the diocese, but I have yet to come upon one which has shown significant growth over the period. Some are stable, other erratic, some show declines; and of course, there are the closures.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Crucial Message

preached for the Easter Vigil, 2017

Here we wait in faith, in the dark of night, waiting for morning's appearance, watching for the women at the tomb. We know the story, as they did not; we await the discovery that the stone has been rolled away, while they came upon it in surprise and trepidation. The apparition of the angels shocked them, while we listen for their appearance and their message in joyful anticipation. The wonder and amazement with which they received that message has, for us, been turned into rejoicing, but better still, faith: faith in Jesus, through belief in the resurrection, which is the key to the kingdom into which we have been brought.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of this testimony, and scripture itself emphasizes this. It scandalizes some people that the gospels, especially John, are not in complete harmony, and do not record all the same events, the same teachings and parables, and the same miracles as one another; often it is held that those passages where they are in agreement, they are said to have copied from a common text, rather than admit that they are all based in common memory. It seems to me that too much is made of this by those looking for reasons to disbelieve what the church has taught over the centuries, but in any case, when it comes to the events following the last supper, the four gospels converge on a single narrative, to which they devote more space than any other single story. They all agree that Jesus took the disciples with him when he went to pray at Gethsemane, and that there he was arrested by guards from the temple, led by Judas; they all recount the same story of interrogation by Caiaphas and the chief priests, during which Peter made the three prophesied denials of his master; they all tell how Jesus was taken to Pilate, who condemned Jesus in spite of his obvious innocence, releasing Barabbas instead, as a sop to the crowds. They all describe how Jesus was mocked, and how he was crucified with two others, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James looking on, but the disciples dispersed. and how his clothing was divided among the soldiers; and they all state that Joseph of Aramathea came and, with Pilate's permission, took the body away and laid it in the stone tomb, wrapped in a shroud, before the day was out.

But that is not the end of it, by no means. All of them go on to relate the same tale of Sunday morning: that at daybreak Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it opened, and that Jesus' body was not there; they all say that she and those with her encountered angels who asked her why she wept, and who told her that Jesus was not there, and that he was risen from the dead. Here, then, is the heart of the gospel message: Christ crucified, but also, Christ risen. Nothing is more important to the faith than this—nothing! Only the incarnation, as doctrine, approaches it. It is because of the testimony of these women and that of the disciples after them, in their encounters with the empty tomb and the risen Jesus, that we have a religion to preach. It was this that Peter taught in his address to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, and which teaching put him and the other disciples in front of the Sanhedrin.

Paul likewise makes Christ crucified and risen again the center of his teaching, and so must we also bear witness, for if Christ were not arisen, what would the point be? It is the testimony of that Friday, and that Sunday morning, that gives meaning and justification to our gathering here, to remember again the glorious grace which we have received. Were Jesus not arisen, well, we have many moral teachers from around the world; what is one more? Were Jesus not arisen, what hope would there be in our faith? Were Jesus not arisen, why should the world heed our message?

But the tomb is empty, as the women related; Christ is arisen, and death's power is thus broken, to be utterly wiped away on the last day, when the old passes away and all is made new forever. It is these moments in history, in which salvation is realized, that are the foundation of our message to the world. The brokenness of humanity is something that anyone can see; human sinfulness is the one doctrine which can be empirically observed. But salvation is hidden from such inquiry; it can be found only in the church, not because the church owns it, but because it is the testimony of the the church, the memory of those sacred days, that brings the message of salvation to the world. Without us as its messengers, who would hear of Christ? Who would know that salvation is there, and is freely given, and may be taken for no greater price than confession, faith, and baptism? And when we say to others, “you should live as we teach, in the name of Christ,” who should heed us? We know that Jesus is the incarnate Son, and that his teaching is that of God on earth; but we know him first as Jesus crucified, buried, and risen again, and it is this which compels our worship, because it is in this that we see the fulfillment of the LORD God's saving purpose. And if it is how we see what is revealed, it is thus how we must show others the same divine revelation.

Christ is risen from the dead: that is our first message; come and be baptized: that is our second; and live together in the kingdom as Jesus taught, doing his work as we await the last days in faith, love, and hope: that is our third. One follows the other; they are not separate. So here we are, and what work must we do? Well, to live as Christ taught, of course, dead to sin in the sacrifice of his crucifixion, as Paul explained. But it is not simply a matter of living an upright and godly life in charity and purity of heart. No, to the best of our ability, and in the grace of the Spirit, we must carry out the will of the Father not only in abjuring sin, but in showing the Son to the world. Those outside the church need to see a reason for coming in, not just through our superior life (for at this we fail over and over), but through our superior knowledge: we know the story of salvation, and the world does not. The world chases after false gods: not only failing to see the LORD God as He is, and worshiping others in His place, but elevating human lusts and greed and impulses above all other principles, to the end that any kind of life together becomes predatory and abusive. We must offer them, instead, the one True God, incarnate in Jesus the only Christ, fully real and truly man, crucified at one place and time in Judaea while Pilate was procurator under the Emperor Tiberius, and risen again from the tomb in Jerusalem, and from thence returned to the heaven which is beyond our mortal and physical knowledge. As they are taught, and are baptized, and partake of the sacraments, then shall they know the Word Incarnate, and shall see the Godhead, and with us they may join in the work of the kingdom. And then with us they shall proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died!
Christ is risen!
Christ will come again!