Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two Charts That Say A Lot

Kendall Harmon has been running a series of posts in T19 on Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) for various dioceses for the 1998-2008 period. I managed to find some older data on the ECUSA website going back to 1992, so I've created a couple of charts which examine this from a slightly different perspective.

Our first chart shows ASA by diocese as a percentage of 1992 ASA:

The bold red line is domestic ASA. The legend to the right shows the dioceses in order by 2008 increase/decline (right-to-left, top-to-bottom) so that S. Carolina is at the top and San Joaquin is at the bottom.

Our second chart shows percentage change on a year-by-year basis:

In this case I have omitted Navaholand and San Joaquin, the first due to its volatility and the second due to its extreme at the end. I've also omitted selected extreme values along the way for other dioceses. The heavy red line again shows overall domestic ASA changes.

Both of these show pretty much the same pattern: up until 2001, the church was holding its own, and in many places showing increases. From 2002 on, almost all dioceses show substantial losses. Of course, it's only going to be worse next year, as three more dioceses all but disappear.


C. Wingate said...

Some discussion over on T19 has led me to point out in that in the second chart you can see the "Sunday effect" (that's is, the effect of Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday) pretty well in this chart. Christmas fell on a Monday in 1995, 2000, and 2006; it's not clear why the peak is in 2005 rather than 2006, but in any case the little bump in ASA shows up quite plainly.

robroy said...

C. Wingate: Most churches include Saturday night service (if they have one) attendance with Sunday morning attendances into the "Sunday attendance".

As a result, the Christmas effect occurs when Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday or a Saturday. Going from a non-CE year to a CE year, the fall is blunted, e.g., 2004 to 2005. Going from a CE year to a non-CE year, the fall is accentuated, e.g, 2006 to 2007. Going from a CE year to a CE year, e.g., 2005 to 2006, or non-CE year to a non-CE year, their isn't a Christmas effect (apples to apples).

PadreTampa said...

I'm not sure when this started, but I believe that many? some? churches simply record attendance at all services as if they were on Sat/Sunday. Thus the attendance at weekly Holy Eucharists, Marriages, Funerals and the like all appear on the Sunday attendance line in the Red Book and then also on the Parochial Report.

That should make the above statistics even more wobbly.

Kelso said...

I'd be more interested in charts that show the decline since 1950 (call the 50s the high-water mark of Episcopal life)...especially the declines since we destroyed the 1928 BCP and ordained women. You might see what effect Pike and Spong had as well.

C. Wingate said...

Padre, it's possible some do report it that way, but I suspect it's mostly by mistake. I recently had to correct a passage of about two weeks where people were recording services in the wrong column in the register.

Kelso, acto this report ASA reports only began in 1991. The report is worth reading in its entirety as a discussion of the issue without respect to theology. I fact the high water mark f membership was in the mid-1960s-- chalk it up to the baby boom.

Anonymous said...

Would you consider making your raw data available? I'm assuming it's an Excel file or csv or suchlike...