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Cathedral statistics 2012

The Church of England has released Cathedral Statistics 2012 today and this press release.

Growing decade for cathedral congregations, show latest stats

The number of worshippers at Church of England cathedrals increased in 2012, continuing the growing trend seen since the Millennium. Total weekly attendance at the 43* cathedrals grew to 35,800, according to Cathedral Statistics 2012, an increase of 35% since 2002.

Along with occasional and special services, the regular worshipping life of cathedrals has proved more popular than ever over the past decade with cathedrals pointing to stronger community links attracting more people (see case studies below).

Easter 2012 saw the highest attendance in the last decade, at 54,700. Attendance at midweek services has grown most, from 8,900 in 2002 to 16,800, while Sunday attendance has grown from 17,500 to 19,100.

The numbers of children and young people attending educational events is the highest for 10 years (306,800 in 2012 compared to 265,100 in 2002).

The number of volunteers serving cathedrals continued to rise, reaching 15,570, 30% up on the 11,930 in 2002. Between them, they fulfil a range of 860 voluntary roles across the country.

Other regular services, run at least once a month, attracted a further 1,639,300 worshippers. Around one million attended more than 5000 public/civil events in the cathedrals, down from a peak in 2010 but still nearly twice as many as in 2002. 2,900 specially arranged services, such as annual festivals and school leavers’ services attracted a further 930,000.

Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council said: “Cathedrals continue to flourish as worshipping communities while offering a valuable insight into our nation’s heritage. The statistics show people of all ages are increasingly drawn to cathedrals for worship, to attend educational and civic events, and to volunteer to ensure our cathedrals are open to all those who are drawn to visit and worship in these wonderful buildings”

Notes
*There are 43 cathedrals in the Church of England, 44 including the Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity, Gibraltar in the Diocese in Europe

There are three case studies below the fold.

Case studies

Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool is UK’s largest Cathedral and is filled to capacity a number of times a year. Alongside the 400,000 tourists and visitors that come every year, nearly 100,000 attended at least one service in 2012 with Christmas being the busiest time. Carol services are held almost every evening December building up to nearly 2,500 people attending midnight and Christmas morning celebrations. The cathedral has also seen increasing numbers for the Blessing of the crib/lighting the tree and Holly Bough services.
Easter is another busy time and this year saw between 250 and 200 people attend the first ever Cathedral Passion Play performed in Holy Week. A production conceived and produced by cathedral staff and volunteers became a popular and powerful local drama.
The Cathedral also pioneers new ways to reach different communities. The Zone2 cafĂ© style service has grown from one in the morning to include an afternoon option. Zone2 is also being offered and developed in local parishes. The team behind it attracted more than 200 people to a special youth service – Night of the Living Dead – engaging culture with church in a creative way.

Ely Cathedral
Education visits at the cathedral attracted nearly 10,000 students with a hugely popular ‘Holiday Drop In’ every Monday & Wednesday during the school holidays offering a range of activities including arts, crafts, and storytelling. The Pet Service takes place annually and is always well attended.
The focus in recent years has been to present the Cathedral as a community resource making the building a welcoming place for all. Last year more than 700 people attended the opening night of the Olympics which was shown on a big screen.
The Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair attracted 6000 people over two days and the Flower Festival 20,000 over four days. There is also a week long business exhibition in the Cathedral (A Celebration of Business) attracting thousands of people and more than 150 local businesses as exhibitors. A spokeswoman for the cathedral said: “These are not just fund raising/money making events. They help bring people into the building, often for the first time, and once they have experienced the Cathedral they may return for a Service or wish to discover more. I think lay events such as these have helped increase overall attendance at our services and other liturgical events in the Cathedral.”

Truro Cathedral
Truro Cathedral, in line with many other cathedrals, has seen an increase in numbers attending services, particularly at Christmas and Easter. This has been welcomed by the Dean of Truro, the Very Revd Roger Bush, who said, “It is very gratifying to see how well we are maintaining our congregations, especially in the context of overall falling church attendance figures. We are particularly pleased to see a younger profile of visitor attend a number of family events including a Cushion Concert with the Choristers, several Free Family Fun Days and of course the success of our ice skating rink during the winter.” He identified this engagement with a younger profile as critical to the cathedral’s aim of opening up its spaces and facilities to the wider community. He said, “We want to take a positive step out into the community we serve. We want to engage with people across the spectrum and by that engagement bring them into a closer relationship with God. We need to be more outward facing and less inward looking.”
The Dean also pointed to the cathedral’s ongoing ‘Inspire Cornwall’ project as a key instigator in shaping this new vision. He said, “Once we have completed the refurbishment of the Old Cathedral School, it will open as a community music and arts centre, inspiring and developing young people’s skills and talents in the creative sector.”

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Chris H.Mark BennetAdrian F Sunmanviv faullRichard Ashby Recent comment authors
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Josh L.
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Josh L.

That is incredible. What specifically is going on to bring that sort of growth, especially among young people to bring them to Cathedrals?

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

This is a direct result of the phenomenon as described
by the sociologist Grace Davie ‘believing without belonging’.
People go to an environment that provides
religious experience with neither commitment nor
involvement required.

In this sense Cathedrals damage normal parish
churches where attendance requires much
more in the way of commitment. Generally at least
outside London ‘regular’ congregations are in
decline.

So let’s not get too excited.

J Drever
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J Drever

Increased attendance is largely attributable to: (i) the architecture (I assume, for instance, that more people go to, say, Winchester than Portsmouth or Durham than Newcastle); (ii) the music; (iii) the sense that they are belonging to an immemorial tradition; and (iv) because, for some, the cathedral community is a sort of spiritual top drawer. It cannot be denied that, for many, there is a good deal of snobbery involved. In addition, cathedrals have proved very adept at marketing themselves and enhancing the “visitor experience” in a way that is impossible for many cash-strapped parish churches. There can be no… Read more »

Commentator
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Commentator

Many cathedrals have appointed Canon Pastors and some are already both cathedrals & parish churches. Their growth could be due to excellence in worship, good youth/children work, and a renewed commitment to pastoral care. They have borrowed what is best in parochial church life and chosen to do better that which we they have always done. The fresh expression is in the quality of traditional liturgical forms of worship. Done well, it is this that attracts young people. Accompanied by teaching and welcome, it is this that holds young people.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

‘Concerned Anglican’s’ dismissal of those who believe without belonging does an injustice to both them and the cathedrals (and I might add parish churches) where such people are very welcome. Why shouldn’t people come and worship and then go away, who are we to dismiss their faith as shallow or compromised. How do we know what their circumstances are, why they choose not to become further involved in cathedral activities or even why they don’t stay for coffee afterwards? It is arrogant to suggest that only those who do such things are ‘real’ Christians. One could also postulate the opposite,… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

The idea that our successful cathedrals are somehow ‘damaging’ parish church life is nonsense. They are clearly providing something that many people want and need. It is parish churches who need to examine what they are doing and why they are failing to attract those who either go to their cathedral, sometime driving long distances past many parish churches, or who wouldn’t go at all.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Partly true Concerned Anglican but most Cathedrals (even those not obviously also parish churches) have a committed core of regular worshippers who are involved beyond worship and this is often quite large..several hundreds if not more. Activities for school groups seem to me very imaginative and here in Canterbury there are lots of groups (often of young people) at Evensong.Yes its usually part of a tourist/historical trip but it is surely a form of pre-evangelism and helps keep the rumour of God alive. Richard Ashby’s comments are very pertinent though..an “anglican” ethos has disappeared in many places over the last… Read more »

primroseleague
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primroseleague

Perry Butler, yes! totally agree. On the several occasions I’ve moved into new cities the cathedral has always been my default “church of first resort” precisely because you do know what you’re getting. Leaving to one side things like WO as considerations (for those for whom they are), it’s not a bad place to start asking around for recommendations of parish churches for subsequent services. All too often you just don’t know what you’re going to get when you walk past the doors of a CofE church. That is a strength – accommodating everyone from the bottom of the candlestick… Read more »

John
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John

I’ve crossed swords with Richard over this question before. I’m with Concerned Anglican. Great as they are in many ways (and profoundly irritating as they are in many ways), cathedrals suck the life out of churches in the same cities and they frequently start things which duplicate and inevitably diminish things which parish churches have done for years. They also visibly symbolise and embody the obsession with pomp and hierarchy which is part of the C of E’s ‘top-down’ disease and which is rapidly creating a situation where it’s all top and very little middle or bottom. And despite claims… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

There was a study or survey on this side of things that indicated that young people are returning to high church. That they are looking for spiritual experiences without the hype and pandering music they encounter in some places. The ancient liturgies are appealing to them.

There’s hope! Just don’t drive them away with the culture wars, they are done with those and have little tolerance for homophobia and other issues that are utterly irrelevant to their generation.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Perhaps my experience of parish life is rather limited, John. It consists of a lively Surrey outer suburban church with Guildford just down the road, many years at an anglo catholic ‘shrine’ in Bristol, only a mile from the cathedral, and a small church in a former mining village some miles from but in sight of Durham. I’m not sure that any of them would thank you for suggesting that their life blood is being sucked out of them by their cathedral. Again if parish churches feel that, I would have to ask what they are doing and what they… Read more »

Christian
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Christian

I’ve friends who worship in cathedrals across England. Some cathedrals struggle in just the same way as parish churches. Some cathedrals flourish in just the same way as parishes churches. But the flourishing and the struggling seem to go together. Where the cathedral flourishes, so do the churches around them – so my friends say. And the cathedral with the largest congregations is in a city where the church attendance is unusually high. Lets just try to share good practice and support one another.

John
Guest
John

Wasn’t criticising you personally, Richard. Those are my views and I’m sticking with them. Those views are quite widely held. The facts at the end of my first posting are just true. What applies to cathedral big-wigs also applies to bishops. We were never visited by Wright or by Welby. There are vast gulfs and shortcomings here and I dislike them intensely. As for ‘searching questions’, we’re always asking them in our church.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Perhaps it’s unwise to make blanket judgements from the activities or lack of them, in one diocese?

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

The question I have is about whether the relative success of cathedrals is related to them being better resourced or differently located socially and geographically … or any number of factors which make simple judgments pointless

Adrian F Sunman
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Adrian F Sunman

As someone who’s moved largely from parish church to cathedral worship in recent years myself – I’m a regular customer of Southwell, York, Lincoln and Peterborough – I can understand their increasing popularity. Put simply they have a good product, are slick at marketing themselves, and can appeal to people of all faith traditions and none. They also have regular daily and weekly services which many churches, especially in rural areas, can’t provide due to a shortage of clergy and the money to pay them. Musical and liturgical excellence are undoubtedly serious attractions. Cathedrals also allow those who attend them… Read more »

viv faull
Guest

Cathedrals are themselves trying to discover why increasing numbers of people come, why they stay (for instance, it seems that the the attraction of anonymity may not be as powerful as we thought, and the attraction of the spirituality and community of cathedrals may be significant)and the impact of this on the surrounding parishes and community. One strand of the current Church Commissioners funded and commissioned research into areas of church growth is into cathedrals and we look forward to having the report in the autumn and having an informed debate on the conclusions. In the meantime we are grateful… Read more »

Adrian F Sunman
Guest
Adrian F Sunman

Thank you, Madam Dean. A 35% increase in Cathedral attendances over the past decade is certainly cause for celebration when, numerically at any rate, there may be less to celebrate. However I think it’s right that the possible reasons for the increase are being looked into if only so that Cathedral Chapters understand what lies behind it and can react to it in a way which better meets people’s needs. My best guess is that Cathedrals have always been good at what they do but have got even better at it during recent decades.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

It is good that some research is now being done into things which might actually make difference – like whether the rest of us can learn from cathedrals, and what the lessons actually are. For too long statistics like this have been for media use rather than strategic insight.

Chris H.
Guest
Chris H.

I find it interesting that several of the reasons listed for why people go to cathedrals are the same reasons evangelicals/non-denominationalists go to “mega-churches”, but without the negative connotations that word implies, of course.