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Census reports 17% decline in 7 years for NZ Anglicans: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2013 January 5, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.

The number of New Zealand Anglicans has fallen by 17 per cent over the past seven years, giving the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/Polynesia the distinction of being the fastest declining member of the Anglican Communion.

Census data on Religious Affiliation released on 10 Dec 2013 by Statistics New Zealand reported Anglicans had lost their top spot as the country’s largest denomination – a position held since census figures on religion were first tabulated in New Zealand — and are now second to the Roman Catholic Church in terms of membership.

The number of Catholics fell from 508,812 in the 2006 census to 491,421 in 2013, but this total left that church with approximately 40,000 more members than the Anglican Church. During the same period Anglicans in New Zealand declined from 554,925 to 459,771, or 17 per cent. The Episcopal Church of the USA, divided by schisms and litigation, declined on 12 per cent during the same period, from 2,154,572 to 1,894,181members.

The number of those reporting “no religion” remained the largest category of respondent with the 2006 number of 1.297 million rising to 1.635 million in 2013, climbing from 32.2 per cent to 38.6 per cent of the population. In 1956 more than 90 per cent of New Zealanders identified themselves as Christian.

In his Advent letter to the church, Archbishop Phillip Richardson wrote the census figures “contains few surprises. Not even the decline in Anglican affiliation should catch us unawares. These trends liberate us from notions of self-importance and turn us back to our fundamental calling.”

He added that “they also situate our Church more on the margins of our society, where we really belong.”

“My immediate response, then, is thankfulness to God that we are being refined, called to repentance and to a refocusing of our mission,” he said adding that “following Jesus has always been fundamentally counter-cultural. And the Church has always been most authentically the Body of Christ when it is salt and leaven rather than the ‘religious’ dimension of modern society.”

“Our Church may be smaller numerically, but we may also be more authentically Christ’s Church as we recover our saltiness and become real leaven,” Archbishop Richardson said.

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