Thursday, 24 March 2011

Church Attendance in England, 1980-2005, and other statistics

Siobhan McAndrew at BRIN (British Religion in Numbers) has just published some interesting statistics.

Church Attendance in England, 1980-2005
Christian and Secular Youth Organisation Membership, 1951-2006
Places of Worship in England and Wales, 1999-2009

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 10:39am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: statistics
Comments

I see the URC are down from 188,300 to 69,900 in 25 yrs. It would be interesting to have the figures for continuing Congregationalists. I suspect their numbers have held up better....which says something about denominational mergers.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 11:29am GMT

I wonder what the attendance trends are at the cathedrals/collegiate chapels for the evensongs.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 1:41pm GMT

The most interesting figures are those for the most morally conservative denomination, the RC Church - and these date from a period of high immigration from countries with large Roman Catholic populations.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 9:54pm GMT

A reasonable estimate, based on trends, is that just under 800 thousand people attend your church every week; in a population of over 50 million, how is this a "national" church?
Or are this question and these statistics just going to get covered in rich Anglican fudge?

Posted by: NixonisLord on Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 10:15pm GMT

Fr Mark makes a good point. I was suprised by the numerical decline of the RC Church in the period esp as there has been much made in the media about the influx from central/eastern Europe. it suggests to me that RC numbers have fallen a lot in the north..Liverpool/ Salford / Hexham and Newcastle. Any euphoria about the ( tiny) ordinariate numbers seem out of place!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Friday, 25 March 2011 at 12:47pm GMT

Sadly the RC figures are accurate.. not because of Roman absolutism, but because of the liberal stranglehold over our episcopate and priesthood. Hell is not preached and without this the Catholic faith and its requirements are useless.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 11:13pm GMT

Hell is not preached and without this the Catholic faith and its requirements are useless. RIW

Robert, you astound me. Are you seriously arguing that if the RC heirarchy more consistently preached hell, and put forward the requirements of the Church as a counter to the fear of hell's fire, then the decline in worshipping numbers would be reversed?

My impression, from my friendship with numerous former Catholics (and former members of fundamentalist churches for that matter)is that many of them perceive the Church to be doing exactly what you propose. That is why they left.

I also know a fair number of people who have swum the Tiber in the same direction as yourself - notably my own parents. Until your posting, I have never heard one of these folk put forward increased preaching of hell as a significant selling-point.

If that is your view, then I am glad you have found a home in the RC community, and I am very happy to remain an Anglican.

Edward Prebble

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 3:05am BST

Robert why not (re-) read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when you get a mo ?

People also have their own 'requirements'.

Often they manage to create hell for people, even if not preaching it.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 5:05pm BST

I knew your mum and Dad when I lived in NZ...a lovely couple. Christianity makes no sense if you take Hell out of the equation. the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.. As our Lord said, " Fear not those who can destroy the body, but fear him, who can put body and soul in hell."

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 7:58pm BST

Read it years ago Laurence. The fact is , Christianity shows no real growth when it adapts the gospel to the age in which it lives.

Posted by: Robert ian williams on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 5:34am BST

Jesus comes to demonstrate the sheer abundant love of God and RIW says that his message only makes sense if you preach hell?
Makes you want to weep!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 8:27am BST

RIW: "The fact is , Christianity shows no real growth when it adapts the gospel to the age in which it lives."

This is an interesting proposition, Robert. Isn't it the case that Christianity has always done this, though? Think of the changes to the Church that followed the conversion of the Emperor Constantine; or of the Church in Renaissance Tuscany; baroque Rome; Gallican France, etc, etc.

The history of our holy religion seems to me to be one of continuous adaptation of the Gospel to the age in which people live. Indeed, one might argue that the problem in Britain and Europe generally is the lack of adaptation and engagement with wider society by Christians in recent decades, which had not been a feature of previous centuries.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 1:03pm BST

How can you honestly appreciate the love of God, unless you know the horrors he has saved us from.
What meakes me weep are people like Erika who do not realise that.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williiams on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 4:01pm BST

RIW "How can you honestly appreciate the love of God, unless you know the horrors he has saved us from."

Sounds more like Calvinism than Catholicism to me...

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 8:37pm BST

RIW
Love is valid in itself. It doesn't need potential horrors imposed by the very same lover in order to make it appealing.

It shocks me that people understand love so little that they can only understand it as something you have to forced into by threat of everlasting punishment.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 at 10:00pm BST

"Hell is not preached and without this the Catholic faith and its requirements are useless."

- Robert I Williams -

So, Robert. At last you've admitted it. This was your reason for leaving protestant Anglicanism in New Zealand, and joining the Roman Catholic Church in Wales?

Obviously, your thirst for preaching about hell-fire does not catch on with your co-religionists in your adoptive situation - otherwise, there would be more at Mass.

For myself, I prefer the more eirenic, redemptive atmosphere of Anglicanism, which at least (mostly) doesn't see FEAR as a helpful or legitimate tool of evangelism into membership of the Body of Christ.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 at 10:09am BST

The God of revelation is a God of infinite justice and holiness. He has to punish sin,and the God of your construct is one of your imagination.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 at 4:48pm BST

I suggest we are in danger of confusing two arguments here. There is the theological argument about the place of hell, and the rightness or wrongness of the motivation of fear in applying the Gospel. I doubt that RIW and I will ever agree on that one, but that does not concern me, as it is an argument that has exercised the minds of better theologians than either of us back as far as Origen, and one that Bob Bell has raised in a different form, as mentioned in another thread. Besides, it is a bit tangential to the original posting of this thread, about declining morship numbers.

The rather different issue I commented on above is RIW's extraordinary contention that the rise or fall in worship numbers among Roman Catholics (and presumably other denominations, though Robert does not claim this) is directly correlated with the Church's preaching of hell.

I just don't believe you can sustain that argument, Robert. Fr Mark probably provides enough evidence to debunk it, but in addition, I suggest that the largest drop in RC worship numbers in history came with the Reformation. Surely one of the key complaints of the Reformers was the Catholic preaching of hell and the requirements of the Church in the form of indulgences.

No, the causes of decline are much more complex than this.

Edward Prebble

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 at 9:41pm BST

Im just bemused by RIW's assertion of a liberal stranglehold over the english RC episcopate and priesthood. Have I missed something? in any case the increasing conservative episcopates in some countries and the undoubted fact that many seminarians / younger priests are more conservative than,say, 30 years ago doesnt seem to have halted the decline in RC numbers in Europe or North America.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 31 March 2011 at 11:41am BST

Perry: it's interesting that younger clergy are more conservative.

I think we younger clergy are more conservative aesthetically, in both RC and Anglican churches, because we grew up with lots of ugliness of the beards, sandals, and polyester variety thrown at us without let-up by the older generation in church, who themselves were in reaction to the aesthetic of the previous generation. But that doesn't mean that the younger generation of clergy are more conservative when it comes to sexual morality, in either RC or Anglican churches; rather the opposite. I know several partnered gay RC priests (living double lives, of course), who are all amongst the more conservative young clergy when it comes to liturgy, for example. The numbers of such as these are currently being swollen by those joining the Ordinariate too.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 31 March 2011 at 4:40pm BST

"The God of revelation is a God of infinite justice and holiness. He has to punish sin,and the God of your construct is one of your imagination." RIW

I see this thread has now sunk to the level of 'my God's better than your God'.


"I know several partnered gay RC priests (living double lives, of course)" Fr. Mark

How depressing for all involved. What integrity can their ministry have - for all its aesthetically pleasing liturgy - when their own lives are circumvalated with lies and charades?

Posted by: Laurence C. on Thursday, 31 March 2011 at 10:51pm BST

Its not a question of liturgy, but of preaching the Gospel. Conservative lincoln diocese in the USA, produces more vocations than the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Thanks for your quote Mark..it will be very useful.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Friday, 1 April 2011 at 4:53pm BST

Not a healthy situation Fr Mark!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Saturday, 2 April 2011 at 2:27pm BST

Perry: Exactly. That's why it's time we were able to model a healthier option for clergy ourselves.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 2 April 2011 at 6:23pm BST
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