Thinking Anglicans

Cathedral attendance statistics

The Church of England has released statistics of attendances at cathedral services for 2010, with corresponding figures for each year back to 2000. The statistics include both Sunday and midweek services.

There is also a press release.

Attendance levels at regular weekly services in Church of England cathedrals have increased significantly again this year, by 7%, say the latest statistics from the Archbishops’ Council’s Research and Statistics Unit.

The rest of the press release is copied below the fold.

Since the turn of the millennium, they have steadily grown by a total of 37%, which is about 4% on average each year. At Sunday services alone, 15,800 adults and 3,100 children and young people are usually present while over the whole week the figures rise (by 73%) to 27,400 and 7,600 respectively. Westminster Abbey adds, on average, 1,800 people each week to these numbers.

The Revd Lynda Barley, Head of Research and Statistics, said: “The ministry of cathedrals is valued by many people. They have a treasured place in the heart of the nation and are actively used at key moments in individual lives and on public occasions.”

Midweek attendance has more than doubled since the turn of the millennium and is approaching the same level as Sunday attendance. In 2010, for example, it added 85% to Sunday congregations (slightly higher than previous years). Cathedrals are key places of daily Christian worship outside Sundays adding an additional 73% to the number of adult attenders and more than doubling the number of children over the whole week.

The Revd Lynda Barley added: “Cathedrals are proof of the benefit of being open and available throughout the week. Attendance at services outside Sundays has grown more significantly by 10% over the past year and will soon double Sunday congregations. Steady growth since the beginning of the millennium is encouraging cathedrals to explore the unique position they hold in the life of the nation and is restoring confidence in mission.”

Other newly published statistics include:

More than 3,150 specially arranged services were conducted by cathedrals in 2010 which attracted almost one million people.

Regular services attracted nearly two million people while 1.63 million people attended about 5,150 public/civic events arranged in cathedrals.

Over the last ten years both the numbers of public/civic events and specially arranged services have considerably increased. In particular, the number of public/civic events has almost doubled.

In 2010 approximately 760 baptisms (and thanksgivings for the birth of a child), 330 marriages (and blessings of marriage), 410 funerals and 130 memorial services were conducted by cathedral clergy. Baptisms of young people and adults (over 13 years of age) and number of child baptisms (aged one to 12 years) have almost doubled since the turn of the millennium. Overall, these figures reflect a fairly static picture over recent years but in common with the national trend the number of baptisms of older children, young people and adults is growing.

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Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Cathedrals are the unsung success story of the Church of England. A analysis of the reasons for this continuing growth will make very interesting reading.

john
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john

Well one reason, I’m afraid, Richard, is that Cathedrals tend to ‘leach’ people from local churches. I feel ambivalent about our local Durham Cathedral: on the one hand, it’s magnificent from many points of view, on the other, they do things that tend to undermine local churches and their bigwigs certainly don’t support those churches enough (even those of which they’re patrons). Of course, everybody is stretched and I don’t wish to be too sour.

Andrew
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Andrew

Without any data, but just an impression, it would seem to me to be true at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, also.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

But the question is WHY? What is it that cathedrals do which attract the punters from your parish churches. And what are they doing which ‘undermine’ local churches?

(I don’t like the words like ‘leach’ and ‘bigwig’ which seem to indicate a sort of jealousy, that, in my reckoning is unfair).

Old Father William
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Old Father William

Unlike Grace Cathedral, the National Cathedral, or St. John the Divine in NYC, the majority of cathedrals in the US are parish churches which were eventually named the cathedral of the diocese, so they tend not to draw people away from other parishes. Or if, as in my diocese, they were built as cathedrals, they tend not to be huge structures. I remember being in St. Asaph’s Cathedral, in Wales, after being in England, and thinking, “This feels a bit more like home.”

Father Ron Smith
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This news can only gladden the heart! Surely, any increase in worshippers – in any Anglican edifice – ought be cause for rejoicing. Cathedrals are very important indicators of national interest in religious observance – not to mention tourism.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Good lordy, any one who thought the C of E an irrelevance would get their nose cleaned by these stats !

It just shows how relevant the C of E is. May be the idea could be franchised to all the parishes of England.

Pluralist
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Cathedrals offer three things: a standard of performance, material along general lines, and anonymity. If you go to a local church, if might be a bit ragged in performance; you might end up in some sectarian experience and the congregation or clergyperson might grab you. Going to a cathedral is like enjoying a live concert in a hall instead of seeing some local band down at the pub.

Michael
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Michael

From what I have observed in my home town and in other places, cathedrals often appeal to the unchurched and/or newcomers looking for a spiritual home. In an era when people are bombarded with data, ads, phone calls, text messages, other forms of aggressive media or technology, the calm and quiet offered by the space itself can draw people in. Also, the liturgy, with its music and ceremony, offers people a sense of something timeless and beyond themselves. In contrast, some small churches near cathedrals, in a time when the concentration of churchgoers has diminished, have devolved into therapeutic and… Read more »

Brian
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Brian

I’m amazed that people see increased attendance at Anglican cathedral services as signs of church growth. Like many others, I regularly attend such services (as well as ones at RC churches) because I appreciate the music,and that alone.