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As data show denominational decline, Executive Council stresses themes of abundance

House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris opens the June 12-15 meeting of Executive Council. Photo/David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

By David Paulsen

Episcopal News Service

Talk of scarcity and abundance permeated the first day of Executive Council’s June 12-15 meeting in Providence, R.I., as Episcopal Church leaders reviewed denominational data showing membership decline, financial resiliency and growing challenges in matching clergy to the hundreds of Episcopal congregations in search of priests.

House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris, in her opening remarks, warned against accepting a “scarcity mindset” as the church and its 1.5 million members look to the future. She compared today’s landscape to that of Jesus’ disciples in the first decades and centuries of the church.

“The church was being born and it was discerning who it would be, what our identities would be as followers of Jesus Christ and the way of love,” Ayala Harris said. “Just as the disciples were commissioned in the early days of the church, we are commissioned now: We are called by Jesus into the crucial ministry of embodying love and action in our communities.”

The Episcopal Church is “being called to let go of our scarcity mindset and embrace the abundant blessings that the Holy Spirit has given us,” she said, adding, “at the churchwide level, we sometimes talk too much about numbers, numbers of people in the pews, and not enough about the fruit of our ministries.”

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