ATTENDANCE at C of E churches continues to decline slightly, the
latest statistics have revealed. In 2013, the average weekly
attendance across England was 1,009,000, two per cent of the
population. In 2012, this figure was 1.05 million.
The latest figures come from Statistics for Mission 2013, which
was released on Monday. The report suggests that, on an average
Sunday in October last year (when the figures were collated), a
total of 849,500 people attended a C of E service.
In another measure, the Usual Sunday Attendance, 784,600 people
attended. Forty years ago, the Usual Sunday Attendance figure was
approximately 1.25 million, but population increases mean that the
percentage of English residents who attend church has halved, from
three to 1.5 per cent over this period.
In recent years, Sunday attendance has continued to fall by a
small amount each year. Five years ago, the C of E saw 823,000
people come through its doors on a Sunday.
Speaking about the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of
Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, said: "The Church of England continues
to serve the nation with a core of 1 million activist members who
worship faithfully each week."
Nevertheless, more churches (24 per cent) were losing
congregation members last year than were gaining them (19 per
cent). The majority (58 per cent) had stable attendance
On a normal Sunday, the average urban church welcomed 60 people,
while the average rural church welcomed just 19.
Statistics for Mission 2013 was not all bad news, however:
31,000 people joined the Church's "worshipping community" for the
first time in 2013; and C of E clergy baptised 132,940 candidates,
of whom some 79,000 were infants. This means that, for every 1000
children born in England, approximately 120 are baptised by a C of
In addition, 19,000 candidates were confirmed. Over the past
decade, infant baptisms have decreased by 17 per cent; baptisms of
children has gone up 15 per cent, and adult baptism has increased
by 32 per cent.
Last year, 49,690 marriages were conducted, amounting to one in
five of all the marriages in England and Wales. According to
Statistics for Mission, most churches conduct between one and five
marriages a year.
There were 159,490 Church of England funerals or memorial
services held in a cemetery or crematorium in 2013, representing a
third of all deaths. In an average week in the C of E, 2557 people
are baptised, 956 weddings are held, and 3067 funerals are
Bishop Croft said: "In addition to the regular worshipping core,
the Church continues to serve all those who look to us to mark the
most important events of their life journey through weddings,
baptisms, and funerals.
"Through these services alone, we estimate that a further half a
million people attend church every week of the year, many of whom
will be only fringe or occasional visitors."
Christmas services continue to be the best-attended. In 2013,
Christmas services in parish churches attracted nearly 2.4 million
people. This figure has remained reasonably stable over the past
Just under 1.3 million attended an Easter service in 2013, down
from 1.4 million in 2012. This number has been declining steadily
over the past decade.
Average attendances growing - Ely, Guildford,
Leicester, London, Manchester, Newcastle
Average attendances stable - Coventry, Ripon and
Average attendances falling - Bath and Wells,
Birmingham, Blackburn, Bradford, Bristol, Canterbury, Carlisle,
Chelmsford, Chester, Chichester, Derby, Durham, Exeter, Gloucester,
Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Liverpool, Norwich, Oxford,
Peterborough, Portsmouth, Rochester, St Albans, St Edmundsbury and
Ipswich, Salisbury, Sheffield, Sodor and Man, Southwark, Southwell
and Nottingham, Truro, Wakefield, Winchester, Worcester, York,