Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Church of England publishes 2014 attendance statistics

Updated Tuesday evening

The Church of England has published its Statistics for Mission 2014 today with an accompanying press release, copied below. The statistics mainly cover numbers attending, but there are also figures on, for example, numbers joining and leaving (with reasons), electoral numbers, baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

The statistics can be downloaded from here as a 58 page pdf file.

Church Publishes 2014 Attendance Statistics
12 January 2016

New Church of England statistics for 2014 published today show that just under one million people attend services each week. The survey, carried out over four weeks in October 2014, found 980,000 people attending church each week, with 830,000 adults and 150,000 children.

The statistics also show that 2.4 million attended a Church of England Church at Christmas in 2014 and 1.3 million people attended a service at Easter. Additionally, 2.2 million people attended special Advent services for the congregation and local community whilst 2.6 million attended special Advent services for civic organisations and schools.

The statistics also highlight the other services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. In 2014 the Church carried out just under 1,000 weddings, 2,000 baptisms, and almost 3,000 funerals every week of the year. Some 12% of births during 2014 were marked by a Church of England infant baptism or thanksgiving service whilst 31% of deaths were marked by a Church of England funeral.

As a whole the figures represent a continuing trend which has shown a 12% decrease in attendance over the past decade with an average decline of just over 1% a year.

Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt. Revd. Graham James, said:

“The 2014 figures are not in any way a surprise. Whilst the recent trend of the past decade continues, it has been anticipated and is being acted on radically.

“As part of a prayerful and considered response to these trends the Church is embarking upon the biggest renewal and reform process in over 150 years focusing our resources on prayer, evangelism, discipleship, vocations, leadership & training.

“We do not expect that trend to change imminently or immediately over the next few years due to demographics. We lose approximately 1% of our churchgoers to death each year. Given the age profile of the CofE, the next few years will continue to have downward pressure as people die or become housebound and unable to attend church.

“As a Church we are unashamedly committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ in our worship of God, discipleship and service to the poor and the marginalised. Our confidence, resilience and service is rooted in Jesus.

“The story is not one of inevitable decline. During 2013-14 some dioceses continued to increase their attendance. In the past 12 months alone there are examples of growth and new churches across the country. In my own diocese the church of St. Thomas Norwich has grown from 50 to 450 people in the past two years. In Bournemouth, St Swithin’s - a church which started in 2014 - now sees 500 people attending every week whilst in Birmingham St Luke’s Gas Street in is already attracting hundreds of young people since its beginning in 2015. There are many others like these and each is a sign of hope.

“Attendance statistics do not tell the whole story. There are many things that churches do that are not included in these data from running homelessness services and hosting foodbanks, to educating a million children a day in our schools to providing welcome and accompaniment to the least, the last and the lost in our society.”

Update

Mark Hart looks at the figures for the diocese of London: Capital Growth or Northern Powerhouse?.

Press reports

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England attendance plunges to record low

Harriet Sherwood The Guardian Church of England weekly attendance falls below 1m for first time

Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Church of England weekly attendance falls below one million for first time

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 2:28pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

Are there any non-HTB plants that are growing? Are there any churches that have seen a sudden influx of parents with teenagers or empty nesters or middle-aged people of any marital status or none? Or indeed men between the ages of 22 and 30.

I love (and currently live within) the Charismatic stream in the Church of England, but I love a variety of other aspects of the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England. Forget the HTB-facilitated Dominionist neo-liberal tyranny envisioned by some of the commenters on other items today, but a Church of England made up of HTBs would be almost as frightening and appears far more realistic.

Posted by: Caelius Spinator on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 2:48pm GMT

Interesting timing.

Releasing this report on a Tuesday morning would be public-relations malpractice UNLESS there's a bigger (and "worse") story that the CofE thinks will hit later in the day.

So I'm inclined to think that those "in the know" can see a walkout coming later today.

We'll see....

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 2:56pm GMT

Fresh off his Primates 2016 triumph, Welby ain't gonna stand for this. England's taking no more lessons from the Global South, not on his watch, not with his new Gafcon shocktroops to impress. Tide turns now, and flows into his new Bible-believing church.

Expect all church resources to be repurposed towards vigorous and sustained evangelism, with parishes ordered to get out there and get recruiting, and schools and food banks told to get to work on their captive audiences. Get with the program or get out.

I have no doubt that Welby believes he's been called to re-evangelize England, and the newly-anointed Anglican bossman's not gonna let anyone stand in his way.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 5:23pm GMT

Church of England figures are holding up better than the Catholic Church in England and Wales....we are simply being sustained by immigration.

By the way....." Some 12% of births during 2014 were marked by a Church of England infant baptism or thanksgiving service..." note the thanksgiving a nasty evangelical innovation by some con evangs who are crypto Baptists.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 5:30pm GMT

It's not surprising. It is hard to find a comfortable church even if not LGBT. There are low churches, middle churches and high churches. Evangelical and traditional. Churches which support women priests; churches that don't. Churches that seem to expect everybody to be part of a family or at least a couple. Churches where the congregation is predominantly old; churches where the congregation is mostly young. Churches which only have services one Sunday in the month.

My pet peeve is churches which send the children out to Sunday school or something - those I really cannot get on with since the worship of children, no matter how noisy and chaotic, is something I see as profoundly important.

Then there might be a gay celebrant, or the church might be LGBT-intolerant.

So what, these days, is the chance of living near a church that matches one's own proclivities? Catholic churches do vary but are somewhat more homogenous than CofE and congregations have held up slightly better.

So is it possible that each time there's a compromise, each time the church becomes less homogenous, less predictable, that attendances fall? Maybe we need to abandon the diversity?

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 6:21pm GMT

So, with many more orthodox bishops, hard fought exemption from the equality acts and particularly from celebrating equal marriage, and the shining example given by covering up the sins of the government by its support for food banks, why isn't the church growing in leaps and bounds?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 7:53pm GMT

'So, with many more orthodox bishops, hard fought exemption from the equality acts and particularly from celebrating equal marriage, and the shining example given by covering up the sins of the government by its support for food banks, why isn't the church growing in leaps and bounds?'

Surely a more productive question would be, 'Which churches in England (Anglican or otherwise) ARE growing, and is there anything that can be learned from them?'

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 9:53pm GMT

'note the thanksgiving a nasty evangelical innovation by some con evangs who are crypto Baptists.'

Every bit of this is factually wrong.

1. Thanksgiving services were introduced in the 1960s in response to the needs of parishes / clergy who wanted to have something positive to offer families where the parents could not (on their own admission) make the baptismal promises.
2. The demand came from clergy of various traditions and seems to have first been articulated in written form in London diocese.
3. Con evos in the CofE tend to be anything-but-crypto Calvinists and support infant baptism on the basis of covenant theology.

But don't let the facts get in the way of evangelical bashing....

Posted by: Charles Read on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 at 10:22pm GMT

Sorry if this thread is going off-topic, but I have no idea what this means: "where the parents could not (on their own admission) make the baptismal promises"

???

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 5:10am GMT

"Expect all church resources to be repurposed towards vigorous and sustained evangelism..."

Oh, if only! If only! Really: I'll say it again -- if only! Would that you were right, James Byron. I fear more money is yet to be wasted on lawyers before the CofE takes evangelisation with anything like the seriousness it deserves. The well will be truly dry by then.

Posted by: Victoriana on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 8:04am GMT

JcF,
from https://www.churchofengland.org/media/41165/cibaptismandconf.pdf


At the baptism of children, the president then says to the parents and godparents:
Parents and godparents, the Church receives these children with joy.
Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith.
Will you pray for them,draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?

Reply:With the help of God, we will.

In baptism these children begin their journey in faith.You speak for them today.
Will you care for them, and help them to take their place within the life and worship of Christ’s Church?

Reply: With the help of God, we will.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 9:36am GMT

Re baptism, it's not just the parents' beliefs which create a barrier. My daughter and her partner asked for baptism of my granddaughter. Neither attend church and have only vague spiritual beliefs, but they wanted a ceremony and godparents. Baptism was not possible because none of the godparents were baptised (a requirement) and indeed one is Jewish. A lovely blessing service was organised which was much more honest and has given all a good experience of church.

Posted by: AmandaG on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 12:07pm GMT

Re Baptism - it is only the alternative services that require promises from the parents - the BCP service (doctrinally normative) asks only the godparents to make promises, and then only vicariously on behalf of the child. There is something deeply devious in choosing an inappropriate alternative rite, and then arguing that because that alternaative is inappropriate, therefore baptism itself is inappropriate. Each time this happens hundreds are alienated from the Church.

Posted by: Mr David on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 1:43pm GMT

The Statistics for Mission no longer show percentage changes year-on-year which used to enable easy ranking of the dioceses' 'All age weekly attendance' figures. I have transferred the data into a spreadsheet which shows:

- Of the 44 dioceses, 12 reported increased attendance from 2013 to 2014. The remaining 32 dioceses recorded static or declining attendances.

- The top three dioceses were Durham (+7.3% attendance), Gloucester (+3.8%) and Southwark (+3.3%)

- The bottom five dioceses were Ripon & Leeds (-9.8% attendance), Manchester (-9.6%), Winchester (-9.4%), Salisbury (-7.2%) and London (-5.7%).

I can't see any correlation between 'type' of diocese and the reported figures - but others may be able to! In any event, correlation is not the same as causation.

Much as I dislike his theology re LGBT people, Peter Ould is a professional statistician and it would be interesting to see his analysis which would be deeper than my 'O' level Maths allows.

Finally, my confidence in the accuracy of the statistics was reduced somewhat when I discovered that some of the figures in the columns of data did not add up to the totals shown at the bottom!

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 1:44pm GMT

So Ripon and Leeds is the worst declining diocese? So much for reorganisation.

Posted by: Mr David on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 3:15pm GMT

'So Ripon and Leeds is the worst declining diocese? So much for reorganisation."

These are stats for 2014. The Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales only came into being in the middle of 2014, a bit early to expect any effect on decline or growth.

Though I have to say I would imagine the effect on growth or decline of a Diocesan reorganisation would be precisely nil.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 5:00pm GMT

And just to say that in 1992 the argument about women priests was that there would be growth once it happened. Can anyone explain why this has not happened?

Posted by: Joseph Golightly on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 5:19pm GMT

Laurence, As I've tried to argue in my piece (kindly linked to above), because of noise in the data, it is unwise to draw conclusions about performance from the change over one year - better to look at trends over a longer period.
The reason why the sum of a column may not exactly match the total given at the bottom is explained on p49 of the report. The column entries are rounded whereas the total is the sum of the unrounded numbers.

Posted by: Mark Hart on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 5:25pm GMT

@ Mark Hart.

Thank you.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 7:20pm GMT

I confess, I have difficulty seeing what an *Anglican* blessing means, where the parents (guardians)/godparents can't (won't) make Anglican promises themselves. But again, I'm an Ignorant Yank (Episcopalian), and this is off-topic...

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 at 10:18pm GMT

A feature of ministering in an established/ national/ parochially ordered church JCF....without a very clear definition of " membership". A C of E Parish church is there for anyone who doesn't specifically look elsewhere for religious ministrations....that's why some of us got ordained in it!

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 10:16am GMT

When I see how the counts are done at the coal face, and the degree of forgetfulness and subsequent imagination that goes into the recording of them, I suspect that these figures are an overestimate.

Posted by: Fr William on Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 11:22am GMT
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