According to a report (click on post title to read) from the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail, "if present trends continue", by 2061 only one Anglican will be left in Canada!
The report indicates that all Christian churches in Canada are experiencing decline, with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church, whose small increase in nominal membership is attributed to immigration. But, it notes, the Anglican situation is aggravated by the decrease in Canadian "tribalism", i.e. Canadians of English descent no longer necessarily identify with a church seen as a local branch of the Church of England. There is also a marked de-confessionalisation, more often referred to as "post-denominationalism" by the sociologists of religion, which means that church bodies cannot rely on the future loyalty of worshippers as they did in the past.
Now, while those two factors may partly explain the decline of Anglicanism in Canada, I don't "buy" the argument that this is the whole story. While I am not intimately familiar with Canadian church life, I personally think the decline has a lot to do with the process of liberalisation that began in Western churches in the 1960s (and let's also acknowledge the antecedent liberal movements in the late 19th century and the
1920s, which weakened the doctrinal foundations of the mainstream churches across the world) which resulted in the abandonment of the proclamation of the Gospel as the raison d'etre of the church and the accompanying adoption of social democracy as an ersatz religion. The Canadian churches were at the forefront of this movement. (Not that social democracy is necessarily a bad thing per se, my point is that its promotion is not the church's calling - if the mainstream churches ceased their preoccupation with social democratic causes, social democracy would still be furthered by others, but if the church ceases proclaiming the Gospel...?)
The links between doctrinal and numerical decline have been the subject of several studies in recent decades, ever since the phenomenon first appeared, going back to Dean Kelley's Why Conservative Churches Are Growing, published in 1972, which looked at the phenomena from the other side of the equation. A more recent popular study is Thomas Reeves' The Empty Church, The Suicide of Liberal Christianity.
Possibly still the best theological study of the corrosive nature of Liberalism's impact on the faith of mainstream churches is the book written by a partisan in the heat of the second battle over liberalism in the 1920s, the American Presbyterian scholar J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism. The fact that Machen's passionate work is kept in print by Eerdmans is testimony to its enduring value. Machen's thesis was that Liberal Christianity, far from being merely a necessary and justifiable accomodation of orthodoxy to the demands of the modern world, was in fact a different religion entirely. His is an incisive argument worth reading (an on-line version is available here: http://www.biblebelievers.com/machen/ - provision of this link is not an endorsement of the website in general).
Whatever the causes of Anglican decline in Canada may be, one thing seems clear, the accomodation of the church to the liberal agenda of the wider society, which was originally proposed as an antidote to irrelevance, seems to contribute to decline rather than provide a panacea against it. The Anglican Church of Canada, like mainstream churches elsewhere which have diluted their message with liberal theology, has ended up maintaining the form of religion, but denying its power.
Will the last Canadian Anglican to leave the church please switch out the lights?
Note: The term Liberalism as used in this post does not refer to the generous and open spirit which has underwritten the good fortunes of Western society over the last several hundred years and to which all civilised men and women aspire, but rather to the paradoxically narrow and intolerant ideology which is subversive of all order and true liberty in the world, and which, in the church, openly challenges the authority of God's Word in the name of a humanism severed from the transcendental values which alone can guarantee human liberty.
Postscript: "If present trends continue", by 2061, every Anglican in Australia will be an Evangelical connected with the Sydney Archdiocese. Almost all other Australian Christians will be Roman Catholics. The Lutheran presence will be even more negligible than it is now..."if present trends continue". May God help us!