Good News & Bad News
The Good News:
The following press release was reprinted in many major American newspapers as a small story some six week ago. In case your local paper did not carry it, we reprint it here:
"US Church Membership Rankings Released
New York, 31 March, 2006
(Ecumenical News International ENI)--
The membership ranking for the 25 largest Christian
denominations/communions, are as below, according to the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches published by the US National Council
of Churches. The statistics in the 2006 yearbook were collected by the reporting churches in 2004 and reported to the NCC in 2005.
1. The Catholic Church: 67,820,833 members,
an increase of 0.83 percent.
2. The Southern Baptist Convention: 16,267,494 members, a decrease of 1.05 per cent.
3. The United Methodist Church, 8,186,254 members, a decrease of 0.79 per cent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,999,177 members, an increase of 1.74 per cent.
5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no increase or decrease reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., 5,000,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,930,429, a decrease of 1.09 per cent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3,500,000, members, no increase or decrease reported.
9. Presbyterian Church (USA), 3,189,573 members,
a decrease of 1.60 per cent.
10. Assemblies of God, 2,779,095 members,
an increase of 1.81 per cent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
13. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
14. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,463,747 members, a decrease or 1.01 percent.
15. Episcopal Church, 2,463,747, reporting a decrease of 1.55 percent.
16. Churches of Christ, 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
18. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no increase or decrease reported.
19. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,432,795 members, no increase or decrease reported.
20. American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,432,840, a decrease of 0.57 per cent.
21. United Church of Christ, 1,265,786, members
a decrease of 2.38 per cent.
22. Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no increase or decrease reported.
23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,615 members, no increase or decrease reported.
24. The Orthodox Church in America, 1,064,000 members, an increase of 6.40 percent.
25. Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1,029,902 members, reporting a decrease of 1.07 per cent."
And The Bad News:
The numbers for the OCA are total fabrications. The truth about the OCA is exactly the opposite. According to the papers of the 2005 All American Council, the OCA’s American contintental membership (i.e., not including Alaska, Canada, or the ethnic dioceses)
“has been declining between 6% and 9% for nearly 20 years."
Since February 2006 the number the OCA Communications Office now gives in terms of the total number of people "connected" in some way to the OCA is 400,000. Of course, even this reduced number means that each of the 700+ OCA parishes in North America has an average of 570 people “in one way or another connected to” it. That seems optimistic at best, given that he OCA’s number of “contributing members”, that is, those above the age of 18 who made a financial commitment to the 400 OCA parishes in the lower 48 that are in geographical dioceses, is significantly lower. According to the 2005 AAC report, the number stood at only 27,169 in 2004.
The Good News:
For the first time in eight months since news of the OCA financial scandal broke, a story relating to it has appeared in the OCA’s own newspaper, The Orthodox Church. For those who have not received their
copy, since it has not appeared on-line as yet, we reprint the following:
"Fr. Kondratick released from chancellor duties
At an extraordinary session of the Administrative Committee on March 16, 2006, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman announced that Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick had been released from duties as chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America.
Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1969, Father Kondratick served as rector of St. John the Baptist Church, Nanticoke, PA prior to his appointment as secretary to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius in 1984. Two years later, he
was given the additional assignment of OCA secretary. On November 1, 1988 , he was named acting chancellor, while on August 29 of the following year he was appointed chancellor. In 1994 he was elevated to the rank of protopresbyter. In 2004 , he was awarded a Synodal citation in recognition of his years of labor as chancellor.
Among Fr. Kondraticks' accomplishments as chancellor was the establishment of the OCA's strong network of departments, boards and commissions. He is credited with overseeing several All-American Councils and expanding the gathering's format. He also served on numerous OCA boards and commissions; as a member of the boards of the trustees of St. Vladimir's Seminary and St. Tikhon's Seminary; as a member of the board of Iinternational Orthodox Christian Charities; and in numerous other capacities for Church-related and other organizations. He also represented the OCA at numerous gatherings and events, nationally and internationally."
The Bad News:
If the NCC story was an error of commission, based on supplying false facts, here we find the opposing error: omission. While everything in the article is "true" in the sense of being "factual", it is entirely misleading by omitting three important, known and relevant facts:
a) Fr. Kondratick was not just released, he was abruptly “dismissed” ("fired").
b) He was dismissed according to the statement of the Metropolitan“because of an accusatory and intimidating letter which the Metropolitan received from Father Kondratick’s attorney”, attacking the Metropolitan personally, which the Metropolitan interpreted “as an attack on the whole Church”.
c) The subsequent investigation by Proskauer Rose is being conducted, in part, because of allegations of long term financial misconduct on the part of Fr. Kondratick, among others, made by Protodeacon Eric Wheeler.
Stating all the facts accurately is not prejudging the issue; it places them in necessary context. If the OCA is to rebuild the trust it is has let seep away by stonewalling the scandal for so long, it is hard to see
how it will regain the trust of its readers, or members, by such blatant “spinning” of the truth as omitting the relevant context of Fr. Kondratick’s "release".