The Church of England issued two statistics-related press releases in the run-up to Easter, the first (on 3 April 2012) concerning the 2011 headline mission statistics for its cathedrals under the heading ‘Cathedral Attendance Statistics Enjoy over a Decade of Growth’. With a link to a five-page detailed report, this can be viewed at:
The release majored on the fact that attendance at regular weekly services in Anglican cathedrals had steadily risen since the turn of the millennium, cumulatively by 30%, although there was a 1% fall between 2010 and 2011, entirely due to a reduction in under-16s worshipping on Sundays. Midweek attendance, by both adults and children, in 2011 was at its highest level since records began in 2000.
Christmas and Easter attendances generally showed stability during the decade. While Christmas congregations were 17% up in 2011 over 2010, this was probably due to the weather being much better in 2011, and to Christmas Day falling on a Sunday that year. The increase for Advent was 14%, with the absolute figure fractionally under the decennial peak in 2008.
Turnout at Christmas was incomparably (almost three times) better than at Easter. There were 2% fewer Easter Eve/Day attendants in 2011 than in 2001 and 3% fewer communicants. 2006 and 2007 were the best years for Easter Day/Eve worshippers at cathedrals. Overall Holy Week congregations in 2011 were 4% below 2010.
The report also contains figures for cathedral-related rites of passage, specially arranged services, public or civic events, educational activities, and volunteers and visitors. Including Westminster Abbey and other Royal Peculiars, there were an estimated 12 million visitors to English cathedrals in 2011, much the same as for 2010, albeit there has been some decline since 2001.
The report naturally cannot address the extent to which changes in all the cathedral numbers reflect shifts in allegiance from parish churches to cathedrals. In other words, has there been genuine growth in cathedrals, or has it been a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul?
The second press release (5 April 2012) highlighted the findings of an online poll of 2,000 adults, conducted for the Church of England by ICM Research between 30 March and 1 April. Only one question was asked: ‘Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, what would it be for?’ 85% of respondents expressed a desire to pray for something, the most popular answers being:
- A family member – 26%
- Peace in the world – 25%
- Healing for another – 20%
- Less stress in my life – 17%
- An end to world poverty – 16%
- Guidance – 15%
- Thankfulness – 15%
- My partner – 14%
- Prosperity – 14%
- A friend – 13%
- Healing for myself – 12%
- Marriage or relationship – 11%
- Forgiveness – 10%
- Work – 8%
- My spiritual life – 7%
- My studies – 4%
- My church – 4%
The survey was commissioned by the Church of England to commemorate the prayer of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to promote awareness of the prayoneforme website and Facebook page. The press release can be read at: