Sobering New Numbers

By John Martin

Not long after his appointment as secretary general of the Archbishop’s Council, the top lay job in the Church of England, William Nye conceded that it would take time to reverse the trend of decline in attendance.

Statistics released Oct. 28 revealed the truth of that observation. The trend of decline has not bottomed out. While the Church of England tried to put a positive spin on the figures — with 960,000 attend services each week — the latest statistics show it has lost one in seven worshippers in the last decade.

One bright note: Christmas-service attendance in 2015 jumped by more than 5 percent to 2.5 million compared to 2014. Advent services and civic carol services seem to be nudging upward. Combined Christmas and Advent services (with some overlap) attracted 2.7 million people; 1.3 million attended church for Easter.

A new statistic shows the number of children attending worship fell by 23 percent in the decade until 2015, with infant and child baptisms down from 130,000 to around 110,000.

The church is investing heavily in growth through its Reform & Renewal project.

“These figures represent a realistic assessment of where we start from in terms of weekly attendance,” Nye said. “We are confident in a hopeful future where our love of God and service of neighbor will form the basis for future growth.”


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