Growth of the Church

   The course of the Episcopal Church in the United States has been characterized by a very remarkable growth -- a growth that has attracted the attention of the Public Press, both religious and secular. Thus the Roman Catholic News said recently, "The gains of the Episcopalians in this country, steady, onward, undeniable, and that at the expense of the denominations called evangelical, is one of the remarkable characteristics of our times." The following statement appeared in Public Opinion: "A good showing is made by the so-called Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. The general growth of the Church far exceeds, proportionately, that of the population at large, or of any other religious section of it in particular. It looks like the 'Church of the future.'" This statement may be illustrated by the returns of the last census. In the decade ending 1900 the population increased 21 per cent., while the increase of the Episcopal Church was 41 per cent. During the preceding decade (1880-1890) the increase of population was 24 per cent., but that of the Church was 46 per cent. Before the Civil War, (in 1850) this Church had one communicant for about every 300 of the population; in 1880 it had one for every 148; in 1890, one for every 125, and in 1900 it had one communicant for every 107 of the population. The comparison of growth of this Church with other religious bodies was set forth in a statement by the New York Independent, from which it appears that the rate of increase during the period examined was for the Episcopal Church 44 per cent.; for the Lutherans, 14; Baptists, 12; Methodists, 11; and Presbyterians, 8 per cent. In the census returns in 1850 the population of the United States was 23,847,884 and the Episcopal Church had then only 79,987 communicants. To-day (1901) the State of New York alone with a population of only 7,268,012 has 163,379 communicants, being about one-fourth of the population in that State. The Missionary Monthly, a Presbyterian publication, speaking of the Church in New York City, said: "The Episcopalians far outnumber any other denomination in their membership. Their relative growth also surpasses all others. In 1878 the Presbyterian membership in this city was 18,704, while the Episcopalians numbered 20,984. Now the Episcopalians almost double the Presbyterians in the matter of Church membership." These last two items refer only to New York, but it is a well established fact that the Church is growing rapidly in all parts of our land. To-day there is not a State or Territory where the Episcopal Church has not its Bishop or Bishops and body of Clergy and faithful people; even in far away Alaska the Altar and the Cross have been set up, and the rate of increase throughout the United States is larger than that of any other religious body in this land. Moreover, it is a striking fact that the Episcopal Church is the only religious body in the United States (except the Roman Catholic) which covers the entire country.

American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. . 1901.

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