Christmas Churchgoing in the Diocese of London

Anglican churches in the Diocese of London (which serves 17 boroughs in Greater London north of the River Thames) saw Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attendance levels rise by one-fifth between 2009 and 2010, according to returns from a cross-section of 22 churches from the 480 parishes in the diocese and summarized in a press release on 24 January. See:

Two in every three London churches in the sample recorded an increase in their Christmas congregants. Grossed up, there would have been 130,000 worshippers at Christmas in 2010, compared with 110,000 in 2009, thus (assuming we are comparing like with like) more than reversing the decline from 116,000 in the Diocese of London on Christmas Eve/Day 2008 (the latest year for which national Anglican statistics are available at present).

According to a report in the Church of England Newspaper for 28 January (‘Christmas Attendance Soars in London Diocese’), the increase in 2010 is partly attributed to the use of radio advertisements for its Christmas services, the first time the Diocese of London has used them. London was possibly also helped by the fact that it generally suffered less from the adverse weather than many other parts of the country in the run-up to last Christmas.

It is sometimes said that Christmas attendances are affected by the days of the week on which Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall. In 2010 they were Friday and Saturday. Nationally, some of the largest attendances at Anglican Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services (2,786,000) were recorded in 2005, the only occasion in the past decade when Christmas Day has been on a Sunday, the traditional day for Christian worship. However, they were surpassed by 2,994,000 in 2006, when Christmas Day was a Monday, followed by a decline in 2007 and 2008.

None of these figures include congregations at carol and other Christmas-related services during Advent.

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