The diocese’s average sunday attendance declined from 9,300 in 1990 to 3,900 in 2015.
The 30th Biennial Session of Synod for the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has endorsed a recommendation the diocese merge with the dioceses of Central and Western Newfoundland due to its precipitous decline in active membership.
Meeting from 8-10 Nov 2018 at All Saints Church in Conception Bay, the synod endorsed the recommendations of the Commission on Parish Renewal and Viability. Motion 29 in support of amalgamation explained: “the proposed re-amalgamation would provide a sharing of resources and skills, as well as the creation of potential efficiencies within diocesan structures.”
Synod resolved to “urge and encourage” its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Geoff Peddle, “to begin formal conversations with the Metropolitan of Canada, the Canadian House of Bishops, and the Bishops of the Dioceses of Central and Western Newfoundland and Labrador with a view to restructuring the Church in Newfoundland and Labrador to better serve Christ our God, the people of God and the continuing of God’s Realm within this context.”
The Anglican Church of Canada has not published national statistics for over ten years, but is assumed to have a membership of approximately 300,000. The third largest church in Canada, the Anglican Church has always been the largest denomination in the province of Newfoundland.
In 1961, there were 1,238,459 Anglicans in Canada outside of Newfoundland. In 1981 this fell to 770,525, to 526,335 in 2001 and 466.840 in 2007 — the last date for consolidated statistics.
In Newfoundland in 1961 there were 120,000 Anglicans. The diocese was split into three new dioceses in 1976, and rose in 1981 to 151,020, falling to 115.510 in 2001 and 79,071 in 2007.
The Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland counted 60,868 members at its formation in 1976, and rose to 61,892 in 1981. It fell to 51,441 in 2001 and further declined to 38.884 in 2007. The most recent figures provided by the Commission on Parish Renewal and Vitality Report stated the dioceses membership as 29,000 in 2015. The diocese’s average sunday attendance declined from 9,300 in 1990 to 3,900 in 2015.
In his synod charge, Bishop Peddle asked the synod to take action to restructure the diocese.
“Why? Because when I look at the parish and diocesan structures that we know and serve and care for and I consider the age and condition of our buildings and infrastructure, and especially the age and condition of our core leadership and supporters, I have reluctantly concluded that we only have 10 years left to the current arrangement, if that.”
He noted: “Most of our core leadership and support right now comes from individuals 60 years or age and older and the next decade will impact them and us greatly. Parish after parish are now informing Synod Office that they are struggling in ways they have never struggled before. Some are telling us that they are a half-dozen or less parishioners away from insolvency. If and when they lose those key persons, all of whom are seniors, it’s over.
The task of synod was to “prepare the ground for the church of the future that is struggling to be born. I believe there is great reason to be hopeful,” Bishop Peddle said.