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The Church Commissioners and pastoral reorganisation

24 October 2014


From the Revd Dr David Goodhew and the Ven. Bob Jackson

Sir, - The report recently published by the Church Commissioners in the Resourcing Mission Bulletin, "Stronger as One?", concludes that amalgamating more and more churches under fewer and fewer clergy has had no effect on church growth. We strongly question this conclusion.

We were part of a team that researched this subject for the "Anecdote to Evidence" programme published in January. We did find significant correlations between amalgamations and decline within each size group of churches, and believe this research remains solid.

"Stronger as One?" did not find a correlation, partly because of problematic data (a significant issue in analysing Church of England figures) and some technical statistical issues. But, also, it did not distinguish between different sizes of church. Broadly speaking, the larger a church, the more likely it is both to have been shrinking and to be a single-church benefice. This affects the figures. The effect of amalgamations shows up statistically only once churches of a similar size are compared with each other.

So, we write to encourage readers to treat this new research with caution, and not to stop looking both for more clergy and for new leadership models in the search for a healthy, growing Church of England.

Cranmer Hall, Durham DH1 3RJ

4 Glebe Park, Eyam, Derbyshire S32 5RH

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