Work Group Reports — Metrics Team

The Metrics Team spotlights how Episcopal churches are changing and being challenged in West Missouri and analyses church and diocesan reports that highlight changes in priest deployment, number of churches, membership, attendance, and financial trends.

The Rev. Ted Estes and Amanda Perschall Five-minute read.   Resources

Work Group Reports — Metrics Team Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

The Metrics team presented the following data through graphs, explanation, and dialogue during the November 2017 Convention.

Metrics Team members are: Mary Ellison, Fr. Ted Estes, Krista Heuett, Collin Larimore, Fr. Jerry Miller, Fr. Patrick Perkins, Amanda Perschall, David Powell, Thomas Rose, and Fr. Galen Snodgrass. Fr. Estes and Ms. Perschall are co-conveners of the group.

Priest Deployment – Graph 1

Priest deployment (graph 1) has changed significantly over the last 17 years. In 2000, there were 52 congregations and the majority of these churches (71% – 37 churches) were served by at least one full-time priest. Part-time priests served seven churches (14%). Eight churches were served in regional ministries (15%). By 2017, the number of churches has reduced to 48 with the deployment of priests shifting to about a third in each category. 15 churches are served by at least one full-time priest (31%). 18 churches are served by a part-time priest (38%). 15 churches are served by a regional ministry (31%). These shifts in deployment reflect a changing dynamic in how our churches are staffed and function.

During this same 17-year period, the diocese closed seven churches and opened three. Conventional thinking might suppose that the majority of churches closed were located in rural areas with shrinking populations. This is not the case. Four Kansas City Metropolitan Churches (Holy Spirit, Cambridge, St. John, & All Saints) and two Springfield suburban churches (Ascension & Good Shepherd) were closed. Only Trinity Church of Marshall is considered rural, although it has a population in excess of 14,000 and a four-year college. Three churches have been opened since 2000, St. Thomas a Becket, Cassville; St. Matthew, Ozark, and St. Mary Magdalene, Belton. The first two of these are in a regional ministry and the third is served by a part-time priest. Cassville is rural and the other two suburban.

Trends in Diocesan membership and finance are similar to those in The Episcopal Church (TEC). (the abbreviation TEC will be used to indicate The Episcopal Church, comprised of 110 dioceses). ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) is the average attendance over 52 Sundays for a church, diocese or the TEC. According to Episcopal Church Domestic Fast Facts 2016: TEC ASA has declined -11% and TEC Active Baptized Membership has declined -8% over the last five years. Episcopal Church Plate & Pledge Income 2011-2016 reports that TEC’s average pledge has increased +11% ($359) from $2,395 to $2,754 and the overall plate and pledge reported has increased +1% over the same five-years.

Trends for The Diocese of West Missouri from 2011 to 2016 show a -17% decline in ASA and Diocesan Active Baptized Membership shows a -12% decline. Diocesan Average Member Pledge shows an increase of +19% from $2,432 to $2,901 in the last five years. When compared to the -9% decrease in the total Diocesan Plate and Pledge from $7,552,159 to $6,881,371, the increase in average pledge suggests that there are fewer pledging units but that they have increased the amount they are pledging. However, the increase in average giving is not sufficient to maintain the total of plate offerings and pledges received five years ago.

The Metrics team surveyed 15 Bishop’s staff members regarding their job descriptions, Mission Statements, goals, objectives, priorities, methods of tracking progress, and other pertinent issues. The data collected have been shared with the Goals Team for use in developing goals and aligning activities and measures to assess progress toward those goals.

The Metrics team’s charge is to work closely with diocesan stakeholders in developing and implementing appropriate measures for the work of the diocese. The goal is to provide meaningful data that guides programming and provides assurance that resources, efforts of personnel, and funding at the diocesan level are targeted, effective, and prioritized in alignment with diocesan goals. The next stage of this work will focus on the goals established for the diocese in the current process.

Sources of Information include: Individual Parochial Reports 1998-2016, The Episcopal Church Annual 2000 & 2016, Domestic Fast Facts 2016 and Fast Facts Trends 2012-2016, Average Sunday Attendance by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, Baptized Members by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, Domestic Plate & Pledge Income 2011-2016, Average Pledge by Province and Diocese 2006-2016, and Staff Surveys.

The Rev. Ted Estes is associate rector of Grace Church, Carthage, member of Diocesan Council, and co-chair of the Metrics Team.
Amanda Perschall is an active member of Trinity Church, Lebanon, member of Diocesan Council, and co-chair of the Metrics Team.

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Gary Allman

Gary Allman is the Director of Communications at The Diocese of West Missouri

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