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Church of England Congregations Continue to Decline

Church of England Congregations Continue to Decline

The latest statistics from the Church of England show a two percent drop in attendance between 2009 and 2010.

Average Sunday attendance fell from 944,400 in 2009 to 923,700 in 2010, continuing the long-term downward trend.

The number of children and young people at weekly services also dropped by two percent, from 223,000 in 2009 to 218,600 in 2010.

However, marriages rose in the Church of England by four percent, from 52,730 in 2009 to 54,700 in 2010. It is the biggest increase in marriages in any one year in the last decade and follows the launch of a range of initiatives designed to make marrying in the Church of England easier.

The figures show a slight increase in the number of child baptisms, up one percent from 43,480 in 2009 to 43,850 the following year. Adult baptisms also rose by one per cent, from 11,010 in 2009 to 11,160 in 2010.

The number of people opting for a Church of England funeral fell by two per cent in churches and four percent in crematoriums.

Despite the drop in attendance at Church services, there is positive news in the growth of fresh expressions of church. The figures show that there are at least 1,000 fresh expressions and new forms of church linked to the Church of England.

It is the first time that fresh expressions have been included in the Church of England's annual report on attendance.

Bishop Graham Cray, Archbishops’ Missioner and leader of the Fresh Expressions team, welcomed the rapid growth but cautioned that more needs to be done to reverse declining church attendance in Britain.

He said: “It’s inspiring to think how much has happened in so short a time. Since the 2004 Mission-shaped Church report, we have seen the development of some 2,000 fresh expressions of church in the Church of England and Methodist Church.

“The Holy Spirit has been at work in reaching thousands of people through these fresh expressions and we are all running to keep up. This is hugely encouraging and is a major contribution to the re-evangelization of our land.

“However it is just a beginning, this is not a quick fix and there is much more to do. Fresh expressions of church are one vital factor, but there is a long haul ahead of us.”


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