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North to South: A Reappraisal of Anglican Communion Membership Figures

  • Daniel Muñoz

In recent decades Anglicans have developed a largely unquestioned and unchallenged narrative of global growth and decline. This narrative tells a story of Anglicanism’s success being largely due to growth in developing, postcolonial nations which, according to the narrators, is ongoing and unstoppable. At the same time, first-world, mostly postmodern nations have seen a steep decline in church membership and attendance. Numeric growth and strength have been used to define ecclesial identity and to legitimate understandings of ‘Anglican orthodoxy’. This article offers an up-to-date reappraisal of Anglican Communion membership and, in that process, challenges many of the premises of such a narrative.

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Daniel Muñoz is Lecturer in Church History, Protestant Faculty of Theology SEUT, Madrid, Spain.

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3. See the communiqués of: 1994 GSE1 Limuru-Kenya Statement; 1997 GSE2 Kuala-Lumpur Statement; 2013 GAFCON Nairobi Conference. Available at: (accessed 5 May 2014).

5. Nor is TEC’s Ninth Province, which comprises Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

7. See the recounting of the Anglican Communion by members of the Anglican Church of North America:; the American Episcopal splinter diocese of Fort Worth:; and the English conservative group Church Society: (accessed 5 May 2014).

8. In other geographical contexts, like North America, where conservative Anglicans are in the minority, the identity is defined around being a ‘moral minority’ or a ‘persecuted minority’. For instance, Geoff Chapman, an American Anglican Council priest affirmed: ‘We ask for a new jurisdiction on American soil, under the temporary oversight of an overseas province. We believe that such a jurisdiction would provide the best hope for supporting those who are being persecuted for biblical faith and values…’ Quoted by Miranda K. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 103.

9. The following provinces are listed with membership information: Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, Australia, Burundi, Central Africa, Indian Ocean, and the USA.

10. David Hamid, ‘The Nature and Shape of the Contemporary Anglican Communion’, in Ian T. Douglas and Kwok Pui-Lan (eds.), Beyond Colonial Anglicanism (New York: Church Publishing, 2001), pp. 71-98 (73).

11. Benjamin Shikwati, Director of Programs, Africa Institute for Contemporary Missions and Research (AICMAR), in a 2014 article on the Anglican Church of Kenya, affirms that the Church ‘has unfortunately become a typical example of tribal alignments’. In (accessed 10 May 2014).

12. Hamid, ‘Nature and Shape’, p. 75.

13. See Steve Bruce, God Is Dead: Secularization in the West (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002); Mark Chapman, Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 9; and Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 235-50.

14. See Marites N. Sison, ‘Who’s Anglican and Who’s Not? “Ties with Canterbury are Historic”’, Anglican Journal 132.1 (2006) at (accessed 10 May 2015).

15. Michael Doe, ‘From Colonialism to Communion’, Journal of Anglican Studies 7.2 (2009), pp. 213-20 (219).

16. Daniel Muñoz, ‘Contemporary Anglican Identity: Cultural Contextuality and Relational Catholicity in a Mestizaje Ecclesiology’, PhD thesis, University Complutense of Madrid, Spain, 2015.

17. Cf. The Unfinished Task, A National Survey of Churches in Kenya (ACM FTT Afriserve, 2004).

19. Archbishop’s charge at his enthronement in 2004. See: (accessed 5 August 2014).

21. ‘From Anecdote to Evidence: Findings from the Church Growth Research Programme 2011–2013’, published by the Church Commissioners for England, 2014, p. 13. Available at: (accessed 17 June 2015).

22. Peter Brierly, The World Churches Handbook (London: Christian Research, 1997).

23. Hamid, ‘Nature and Shape’, p. 81.

24. Peter Brierly, Painting by Numbers: An Introduction to Church Statistics (London: Christian Research, 2005), p. 22.

25. Brierly, Painting by Numbers, p. 29.

26. What constitutes ‘regular church attendance’ varies from church to church. In some churches, like the Church of Nigeria, this notion is not defined. In the Church of England, it refers to those attending at least ‘once a month’. I have taken here each national church’s definition of ‘regular attendance’ at face value. Likewise, within this criterion, I have included TEC’s classification of ‘communicants in good standing’.

27. The following provinces use this membership criterion: Canada, Wales and West Indies.

28. The extra-provincial dioceses of Portugal and Spain were not included due to their numerical insignificance.

29. Where the province had no central contact information, electronic communications were sent to diocesan offices, hence the higher number of communications.

30. Jan Butter, Director of Communications, Anglican Communion Office to author via email, 7 July 2014.

31. (accessed 15 August 2014).

32. (accessed 15 August 2014).

33. Church of England Year Book 2004 (London: Church House Publishing, 2004).

34. Even if one allows for the fact that certain parishes may contain multiple satellite congregations, the figures seem more likely to refer to outer circle membership.

35. The Unfinished Task, p. xii.

36. (accessed 18 February 2014).

37. 12th Diocesan Synod, May–June 2013. See: (accessed 30 July 2014).

38. The Damaturu Diocese has 38 churches and a total membership of 1,328 Anglicans. The average church size is 35 members. This is due, according to them, to the fact that they are in a Muslim area with Sharia Law that condemns conversions of Muslims. See: (accessed 2 August 2014).

39. The best statistical data was provided by the diocese of Central Buganda.

40. There is no official figure given by the provincial website of the number of parishes/congregations in the country. 3,978 is a projected estimate based on data from four dioceses: Central Buganda (240), Ankole (84), Namirembe (60) and West Buganda (87). The average number of parishes of these four dioceses (117) has been extrapolated to the 34 dioceses in the country: 34 * 117 = 3,978.

41. This percentage is the average drawn from the three case studies above (Kenya: 9.3 per cent; Nigeria: 6.3 per cent; Uganda: 9.9 per cent).

42. The sources listed here are: AACA: ‘African Average Church Attendance’ Projection;

ACO: Anglican Communion Office (; CEYB: Church of England Year Book 2004 (London: Church House Publishing, 2004); CSE: Case Study Estimate based on the conclusions of this research paper; NC (Year): National Census (Year); NCLS: Survey conducted by Australia’s National Church Life Survey in 2001 (; PC (Year): Provincial Church (Year); PC CM (Year): Provincial Church Confirmed Members (Year); PC ER (Year): Provincial Church Electoral Role (Year); PC RA (Year): Provincial Church Regular Church Attendance (Year); PC GS (Year): Provincial Church Communicants in Good Standing (Year); WCC: World Council of Churches (

1. Daniel Muñoz is Lecturer in Church History, Protestant Faculty of Theology SEUT, Madrid, Spain.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
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  • EISSN: 1745-5278
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