THINKING ANGLICANS

Cathedral Statistics 2013

The Church of England has issued its Cathedral Statistics 2013 today, along with this press release.

Cathedrals offer place of peace and prayer in busy lives, reveal new stats
24 November 2014

The number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals has doubled in the past 10 years, show new figures published today from the Church of England’s Research and Statistics department. One of the factors attributed is the need for a place of peace in increasingly busy lives.

Midweek attendance at cathedrals was 7,500 in 2003 rising to 15,000 in 2013 (compared to 12,400 in 2012). In a Church of England podcast published today the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, said he has seen the need for people wanting a short snatch of peace midweek in what are now very pressurised lifestyles. “At the weekend you’ve got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance – life’s run at the double these days and weekends are very pressurised and committed. Taking out half an hour or an hour every week is much more negotiable.”

Anecdote to Evidence research published earlier this year showed that that the highest motivating factors for Cathedral attendance were peace and contemplation, worship and music and friendly atmosphere.

The Dean of York Minster, Vivienne Faull, commented: “We do have the opportunity of allowing people to come in from the edges. If I take a eucharist at 12.30 in the middle of the week in the nave of York Minster there’ll be a lot of people who just slide in from the side. It’s not so much about anonymity, there’s the feeling there’s a journey you can travel which doesn’t require huge steps – it just requires one little step.”

Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, said: “Patterns of church attendance are different now. Cathedrals are uniquely placed to be providing greater opportunities for worship and that includes during the week.”

The Stats also show that attendance at Christmas cathedral services had increased rising from 117,200 in 2012 to 124,300 in 2013 with many cathedrals putting on new services.

Notes

More information on Lichfield Cathedral can be found here.
More information on York Minster can be found here.
More information on Gloucester Cathedral can be found here.

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Tim Chesterton
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So for 42 cathedrals,assuming they each have just one midweek service every week, I make that 15,000 divided by 42 cathedrals divided by 52 weeks equals 6.8 people per cathedral per week.

Well, I’m glad that in the last ten years it’s gone up from 3.4, but it’s not exactly driving church growth in the C of E, is it?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

OK, my apologies all, I should have read the stats, not just the C of E summary. The C of E summary is very misleading, makes it sound as if 15,000 is the total midweek attendance for the whole year, rather than the average attendance per week, which is of course a much more impressive figure. Again, my apologies.

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

As I suspected, yet another good year for Cathedrals, which are proving far more effective as places of primary mission than most parish churches. The combination of space, anonymity, quality of liturgy, music and preaching; and the general absence of the ‘cringe’ factor is what makes these attractive centres of encounter with God for so many people. So… when is the Archbishops’ Council, the Commissioners and the General Synod going to start recognising this with more realistic funding to support not only a dean and two canons; but also the musical foundations, more rigorous and imaginative theological enterprises which connect… Read more »

Laurie
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Laurie

Most cathedrals offer worship several times, each day of the week.

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

Whilst I applaud any Christian growth figures may I offer some observations: First, cathedrals offer what Grace Davie the social scientist would describe as ‘believing without belonging’. No strings, concert like atmosphere, beautiful building, no commitment necessary – all for a small donation in the collection plate. Secondly, from the parish point of view, cathedrals are often seen as elitist, sucking the life out of parishes, particularly when they are in the same city. True some cathedrals are desperately trying to avoid being seen in this light but I’m sorry that Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester Cathedral, has said: “Patterns… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

So an answer for growth is radically prune back the number of churches, select some churches to be ‘as if’ cathedrals in their presentation with their joined-together parishes, make them all somewhat more anonymous in reception (the show goes on regardless) and so leave people who come in alone. If people want to be part of the production team, that’s their own initiative.

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

I don’t want to be cynical, but I’d be interested to see a comparison between those cathedrals that charge for entry and those who don’t. I’m sure it’s not beyond the odd canny tourist to say they’re going to evensong when in fact they’re just trying to avoid paying to get in. As more cathedrals have charged for entrance, it wouldn’t be surprising to find an increase in these ‘worshippers’. Concerned Anglican – agree over the impact on parish churches, the Anecdote to Evidence report found that 70% of the growth in Cathedral attendance was in transfers from other churches.… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Like Concerned Anglican I am grateful for any signs of growth but wonder what exactly these numbers are presumed to be a sign of and how we know? More precisely, since this is about Christian faith, how do we find in them measures of growth in discipleship, commitment to Christ and to life in local communities of faith? Without doubting the sincerity of those counted here, patterns of self selecting, post-church spiritualities are a feature of our times.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Do we know whether those extra people attending Cathedral services are new or returning Christians, or whether they are moving away from their own parishes? Is this an actual boost in figures or just a switch?

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I really don’t understand what is wrong with believing without belonging. Readinging ‘Spritual Capital’ and the subsequent paper on Cathedral growth it is precisely this aspect of attendance which attracts new worshipers who know that they wil not be asked to sign up to either a particular sort of dogma nor the coffee rota. And it is precisely these new worshipers who after a time come to offer themselves as volunteers in the myriad ways available because they haven’t been pressured into making a commitment as soon as they appear. The Church isn’t or should not be like a double… Read more »

Jean Mayland (Revd)
Guest
Jean Mayland (Revd)

If York Minster did not keep museum hours and allowed people to go in free at any time, far more would enter just to sit and contemplate for a while – up to 9 pm .Sadly it has really ceased to be primarily a place of worship..

viv faull
Guest
viv faull

Jean, we are open 0700 to 1900 daily and welcome without charge those who come simply to pray or light a candle. We invite all those who come ‘to discover God’s love’ and are overt about our primary role. As numbers at daily worship continue to increase, I find what you write both inaccurate and unjust. Chapter has recently reviewed its charging policy (after 10 years) and, with great regret, decided we had to continue to charge those from outside the city and diocese. We keep this policy under review, but upkeep and restoration costs are now £2.5 million a… Read more »

iain mclean
Guest
iain mclean

As a regular, but non-English and non-Anglican, member of the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church (Oxford), I am surprised how downbeat are most of the comments on this thread. Cathedral Choral Evensong is a glory of English heritage comparable to, say, the National Gallery. Isn’t it?

James
Guest
James

Do I detect in David Runcorn and Concerned Anglican’s responses more than a bit of ‘oh yes, but it’s not real Christianity…’? The view that says unless people are signing on the dotted line and fit in to neatly and narrowly defined categories of ‘discipleship’ it’s not authentic, is becoming something of a cliché. It’s very myopic – though hardly surprising. Jean Mayland wants York Minster open until 9pm. She should know better than most how much that would cost in staff overtime – and she also knows it has always opened at 7am and stays open for an hour… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I note with much pride that Durham cathedral, the greatest cathedral on planet earth, does not charge for admission. Long may the remain the case.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

I agree with Viv Faull’s comment about maintenance costs and entrance fees – these are vast Grade I listed buildings we’re talking about! I am not a Christian and have no intention of becoming one but enjoy being a ‘museum’ visitor at cathedrals. A charge of, say, £10 compares favourably with the entrance fee at country houses – and no-one expects to get into them for nothing.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

These theme parks with their amazing buildings and spectacular music are in a class and world of their own. ……… with one or two exceptions they have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth and the God he so passionately reveals
They are about as close to revealing the truth of our faith as the Maundy money is to explaining the Christ who washes our feet ……….

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

The York charging policy sounds very sensible, if people from the area are still able to use the place for free then that seems like a good compromise with the realities of paying the bills. Is that normal practice in other cathedrals too?

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

James No not at all. I live in a Cathedral Close and love the moments I can pray alone there. I don’t want to crowd anyone else’s journey either. I was asking a serious question. Any thoughts on it rather than suggesting my faith is a myopic cliche? Why assume, with Richard Ashby, that the only alternative to ‘believing without belonging’ must be a crude, narrow, in-your-face way of church with all the tasteless, intrusiveness of double glazing marketing? If those ‘believing without belonging’ are to still find places for unhasselled, personal reflection it does of course require others to… Read more »

Eileen Coleman (Mrs.)
Guest
Eileen Coleman (Mrs.)

I have been a member of the Rochester congregation for 20 odd years now. I’m a welcomer, a steward and on the coffee rota. We are still free to visitors.. We are a close knit congregation but offer a warm welcome to visitors and new worshipers. We are known to be a Cathedral with a parish church feel. We average about 200 for the Sunday Eucharist and a lot of people come to the Cathedral because we offer a more traditional service than some churches in our area. We also have a thriving Sunday club ranging in ages from toddlers… Read more »

IT
Guest
IT

Cathedrals can offer transcendent space, music, and art as well as heightened liturgy. They are a place of art and history as well as worship– it’s a both/and, not an either/or. If you really believe that all are welcome, then that should include people who don’t want to jump in with both feet, who want the anonymity, or just a passerby seeking a moment of grace on a busy day. So what if some coming to evensong are evading the fee? They are at evensong and you can’t know what they get out of it. And yes, @Iain, it is… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

For the record, I have surely enjoyed worshipping at Bristol Cathedral when in town. The music and liturgy are good, the sermons are regularly excellent, the people are really nice. It’s open during the week for contemplation, and lunch at the little coffee shop, which is awesome, as it is also next to the Central Library. It’s free, but has a big donation box that is voluntary. I find it a lovely home away from home. They seem to be working on mission, with some outreach projects. I didn’t completely follow, but they are committed to being a meaningful presence… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In this context, one wonders how true is the statement of a one-time archbishop of Canterbury, that “The Church is the only human organisation that exists not for its own sake but for the sake of others”. May this not extend to our places of worship as well as our exercise of ministry? And who knows whose heart and mind might not be ‘strangely warmed’ by a ‘lived-in’ atmosphere of worship?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

There’s a very good blog post by Kelvin Holdsworth about this here:

http://thurible.net/2014/11/26/six-reasons-cathedrals-well/

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

Martin Reynolds should read Kelvin Holdsworth’s blog about cathedrals after (what reads like) uninformed and trite generalisation. See http://thurible.net/2014/11/26/six-reasons-cathedrals-well/

I write as someone who has recently being getting in to my car to drive to worship at a cathedral 20 miles away because what passes for worship at the local parish church is not just irksome and condescending, it is a travesty of any broadly accepted definition of worship – and all under the guise of “The Parish Eucharist.”

I just wonder when Martin last worshipped regularly in one of these God-sends in the midst of so much mediocrity?

James
Guest
James

I’ve been giving David Runcorn’s response some thought, because I think there are some interesting issues behind his invitation to make some suggestions about how ‘discipleship’ can be expressed in relation to the growth being experienced by cathedrals. For some, they may be just places to ‘pop in to’ to light a candle or find some quiet space. But anyone who works in one, or worships in one, will tell you their real value is along these lines… First, given that many English cathedrals were monastic foundations prior to the Reformation, are we saying that a ministry grounded in offering… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

And Simon R. should reflect on Paul’s wise words in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 before he judges ‘what passes for worship in the local parish church’. No doubt there was a lot of mediocrity in the people Paul was describing in that passage, but God chose them anyway, and on the last day they will be judged by their faith and love, not their liturgical excellence.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I am sorry Simon R finds what I say dull and overused. Apart from three glorious years living in the shadow of Salisbury’s great spire 40 year ago my experience is thin. But my comment wasn’t aimed at the fantastic people who work at these places nor at those who worship there, though one of the contributors here could benefit from reading another excellent piece by Kelvin on the “V” word, and I can’t help feeling akin to Tim. It was about something more foundational than that, perhaps some might be generous enough to think it was a deeper reflection… Read more »

Anne 2
Guest
Anne 2

“Too many clergy, organists, readers and intercessors come over as rank amateurs who seem to be constantly ‘tripped up’ by what they need to do on Sundays.” (James) I am very torn in my responses to the comments on this thread. I think it is great that Cathedrals are providing something that a large number of people clearly value and want, and I wouldn’t want to cast any doubt on their ministry. As a parish priest, however, I am profoundly disturbed by the idea that they can somehow show us (parish priests) how it should be done. The reality is… Read more »

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

I take Tim Chesterton’s point. But, as the Bishop of Exeter told his Diocesan Synod a few weeks ago, superficiality is the scourge of our age. As I am discovering, it is alive and well at churches near me (and you, I suspect) – no matter how creatively we exegete 1 Cor 1. 26-29!

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

James Thank you for your response to my question about what is actually being measured in this discussion and how we know. I have to say that as a former parish priest and now working in the training and development of those in ministry I fully sympathise with Anne’s response to what you wrote. I think it not only unfair but actually completely inappropriate to hold up Cathedrals as role models, sitting in judgement over for local parish churches. Cathedrals have larger staffs than local churches can afford. They are paid more and regarded as ‘senior’ – more gifted? –… Read more »

James
Guest
James

Thank you, David. Anne’s response is indeed a very fair reflection of what most parish clergy find themselves burdened with in parishes – despite the lack of requirement for them to do so in the Canons or the Ordinal. Perhaps that’s where clergy training officers should be more proactive in challenging this.

But I’m baffled as to why you seem unwilling to engage with the question of how Cathedrals are offering a valid expression of Christian discipleship. Thankfully, someone who has spent half his ministerial life working in a cathedral has done so in recent days. See http://decanalwoolgatherer.blogspot.co.uk/

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

James. Greetings. You should be baffled since that is not my position at all! All I am asking for is a more careful reflection on the numbers and how we discern what they are actually reflecting. I think Cathedrals are very particular expressions of church, ministry and mission. Statistics need narratives if they are to be read on more than pie charts. This last week’s Church Times editorial was asking for the same I think, and said it better than me. As for local clergy and their ongoing training and support you seem quite unaware of just how much is… Read more »