Youth termed first priority

Published December 1, 2002

Jane Armstrong of Environics presents CoGS with survey results.

Mississauga, Ont. An Environics poll of national church members shows that people want church leadership to put more energy into reaching out to youth, Council of General Synod members were told.

At the request of General Synod 2001, Environics Research Group was hired to find out how Anglicans feel about their church. The survey was conducted in two parts: in focus groups held last May and by telephoning 1,062 church members in September.

Jane Armstrong, senior vice-president of Environics, who presented the statistical findings to CoGS, said they are accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The focus group survey showed that most respondents value their church primarily at the local level. Many appear to have little understanding of the work done at the national level and see General Synod primarily as an organization that asks for money.

Mrs. Armstrong said that ?In general we found a high level of concern about the future of the church, declining attendance and attracting youth.?

Many said said it is important for them to belong to a church that reaches out to youth (90 per cent), helps one achieve spiritual growth (79 per cent) and responds to the needs of the poor (71 per cent). By comparison, little importance was attached to belonging to a church that welcomes gays and lesbians (33 per cent.)

Concern over the financial health of their parish was strongest among older members and clergy.

Mrs. Armstrong said the rating of church leadership overall came out as ?lukewarm.?

In terms of church spending and outreach, ?there was almost unanimous agreement on spending for outreach for the needy, and for ministries for aboriginal peoples and to overseas missions,? Mrs. Armstrong said.

However, two-thirds said they did not want their contributions used to finance settlements arising out of residential schools.

(In a later presentation on the results of focus groups, Sally Preiner of Environics said that ?almost noone who came to these sessions understood what the residential schools issue was about. They thought it was all about sexual abuse, not also culture or language.?)


Keep on reading

Skip to content