[VirtueOnline] 25 Feb 2009--Investments and collection plates are getting lighter at Episcopal Churches across the U.S. There is little evidence that the trend of declining attendance and shrinking revenues will reverse in these tough economic times.
The effects of the economic downturn are reaching into the collection plates and endowment funds of America's Episcopal churches at alarming levels. Bishops and parish priests are watching with horror as donations dwindle and investments decline. Unemployment is beginning to hit the collection plate hard. Usually when times are tough, more people go to church. That does not seem to be happening in the Episcopal Church. Churches that depend on the collection plate for the majority of their income are also worried about the effect of declining employment rates on their weekly plates.
One of the options that is open to the Episcopal Church in these economic hard times is to move away from the sacramentalism of the last few years and to once more become a church of the Word. Being sacramental is not essential to being apostolic. While it may not be possible for every church to have a full-time "priest," it is still possible for every church to have a non-stipendiary minister of the Gospel who teaches and preaches on Sunday and other occasions and leads the worship of the church. Congregations can also be trained to provide pastoral care to their members.