Attendance in the Church of England continues on its gently declining path, although there are one or two glimmers of hope, according to the 2010 provisional statistics which were released by the Research and Statistics Department of the Archbishops’ Council on 19 January 2012 as a set of 19 pages of tables and maps, disaggregated by diocese. They are available at:
In terms of congregations at ‘ordinary’ services, the best figure was for all-age monthly attendance. At 1,645,000, this was 0.4% down on 2009 (made up of a decline of 0.7% for adults and an increase of 0.3% for children and young people). The decrease since 2000 was 11.3%. The Government’s estimate of England’s population in mid-2010 was 52,234,000, 3.1% of whom therefore worshipped in Anglican churches once a month.
A variety of other attendance measures is also compiled. Average weekly attendance stood at 1,116,000 in 2010, a reduction of 1.3% over the previous year (1.1% for adults and 2.0% for children and young people). Highest all-age Sunday attendance was 1,283,000, 1.7% lower than in 2009 and 12.4% than in 2000. Average Sunday attendance fell by 2.2% between 2009 and 2010 and usual Sunday attendance by 1.7%.
Since attendance counts in the Church of England take place at traditional services during a four-week period in October, it is conceivable that they may miss some worshippers. In particular, there has been a concern among the Anglican hierarchy that those involved with Fresh Expressions of church, but who do not take part in regular services, may be omitted. In 2010 these were covered for the first time in the figures. 1,000 such Fresh Expressions linked to the Church of England were identified, attended by 30,000 people who would not otherwise attend church.
As for religious festivals, all-age Christmas Day/Eve attendance in 2010 was 2,298,000, 5.1% less than in 2009. Extremely harsh weather in 2010 will have contributed to the drop, but the trend is longer-term, with Christmas attendance in 2010 19.4% lower than in 2000. Easter Day/Eve attendance was 1,395,000, 1.2% down on 2009. There were fewer festival communicants than attenders, 903,000 on Christmas Day/Eve and 999,000 on Easter Day/Eve, albeit communicants formed a much higher proportion of attenders at Easter than at Christmas.
Electoral roll membership rose by 17,500, or 1.4%, between 2009 and 2010, to reach 1,214,000. However, the real test of what is happening will probably come in 2013 when the next six-yearly wholesale revision of the roll will be undertaken. There was a big fall in the number of confirmands (10.4%) from 2009 to 2010.
The picture for rites of passage was mixed. Total baptisms were unchanged between 2009 and 2010, although infant baptisms declined by 0.6%. Marriages in Anglican churches were up by 3.8% on the year, and restored to the level in 2006-07, perhaps reflecting the success of the Weddings Project of the Archbishops’ Council and the introduction of the 2008 Marriage Measure. Funerals were down 3.0% overall and those conducted in crematoria by 3.6%.
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