Comments: Cathedral attendance statistics

Thee is an extraordinary attempt by Peter Ould on his blog to debunk these statistics. It is also suggested there that charges at some cathedrals are leading to an increase in weekday attandance since that is the only way to get in free.

I think that is much more likely that people come to cathedrals not only for the liturgy, music and preaching but also for exactly the reason given by Rowan Williams in his recent BBC discussion in which he says that he has every sympathy with people of little faith coming precisely because they don;t have to 'face a doctrine exam at the door'.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 1:19pm BST

People don't face a doctrine exam coming to a Unitarian church, but what they can get in a cathedral and not in a Unitarian church is anonymity. Hungry for members, a church wants its recruits to get involved even if would offer space, whereas many people don't want to be involved or take the risk or even be much noticed.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 5:55pm BST

What always strikes me about any cathedral service on a Sunday is the large number of clergy involved , with many seemingly doing little if anything, and often looking very self important in the process . This seems a strange luxury when you consider how hard pressed many of the parish clergy are in having to cover the many churches under their care . It would do much to enhance the standing of a cathedral as the Mother Church of the Diocese if it were to send some of its under-utilised clergy out into the parishes to lend a much needed hand. We are in the resource scarce 21st Century, not 19th Century Barchester .

Posted by M.Elcock at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 6:09pm BST

I know you dislike my saying this, Richard, but cathedrals work against local churches in all sorts of obvious ways. That seems inevitable - but cathedrals have a duty not to make this worse by unnecessarily duplicating the efforts of local churches. Of this, they (and I'm generalising from Durham) are much less cognisant.

Posted by john at Saturday, 7 April 2012 at 7:08pm BST

When ever the subject of cathedrals come up on this and other blogs there always seems to be an perceived antipathy betwen them and parish churches. I don't understand why this should be so since ideally they have different but complementary roles in mission and this certainly my experience, having been a member of and active in both over many years. I hope no one is suggesting that Cathedrals should revert to their moribund state of 150 years ago. That they attract large congregations and have effective outreach suggests to me that they offer something that worshipers want and need, but then so do thriving parish churches and both have their place in the life of the church.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 8 April 2012 at 9:13am BST

The chrism mass at Southwark was wonderful - gave me such a (welcome) boost !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 8 April 2012 at 1:40pm BST

Richard A,

Which part of what I wrote (here ) was "extraordinary"? Perhaps you'd like to tell us all where I got the statistical analysis wrong? Since it's a very easy matter of just repeating my work, you should be able to actually pinpoint what I wrote that was wrong, rather than just dismiss it as "extraordinary".

Posted by Peter Ould at Sunday, 8 April 2012 at 7:05pm BST

I looked for Peter Ould's article that he cites here, questioning the statistics on Church of England Cathedrals, but it has obviously been withdrawn - presumably by the author for some reason. On wonders what that reason could be.

ED: No, the problem was a closing parenthesis being interpreted as part of the URL. I have inserted a space to correct this problem.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 9 April 2012 at 11:37am BST

One day Ron you will try assuming the best of me, not the worst.

Posted by Peter Ould at Monday, 9 April 2012 at 7:27pm BST

Most refreshing news - as every media item about the Church - includes a compulsory reference to "declining numbers" or "empty pews" - it's good to hear a story of significant growth.
So - why not close down all the parish churches and upgrade a significant number to cathedral status - after all - we've got more than enough Suffragan and Assistant Bishops who would, I'm sure, love to have their own cathedra in in their own cathedral. Let's see if that strategy can reverse the decline. Then, all cathedrals could (like York and an increasing number elsewhere) also become Minsters from whence the remaining diocesan clergy could evangelise and minister to the hinterland. It seemed to work quite well in the seventh century - so why not in the twenty first?

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 10 April 2012 at 8:42am BST

My apologies Peter(Ould), for premature judgement!

Christus Resurrexit!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 11 April 2012 at 9:56am BST

Cathedrals? Could it be excellence in music, liturgy and (usually) sermons/homilies? Along with the anonymity and not being "rushed" to get involved in local "busyness", and other often threatening concerns to often anxious newcomers. And being one in many allows the many to hide from the increasingly distasteful politics that manifest themselves more readily in a local situation, than the large cathedral in the larger and relatively distant cathedral town. The need for spirituality is great, can the church get out of it's way and do anything about it other than to pine away about female bishops and the presence of queer folk? Wake up and smell the coffee, the cathedrals are giving us the answers.

Posted by even at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 2:40am BST

Quite so, "even", which is why we need more of them. There are numerous large parish churches around the country that could quite easily be upgraded to cathedral status - Beverley Minster - Boston Stump - Bath Abbey - to name but three. Instead of Suffragans acting as Episcopal curates - give them (as all proper bishops should have) a cathedra in their own cathedral. One bishop per diocese - a far better system than a diocese with multiple bishops.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 13 April 2012 at 10:10am BST
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