THERE are more buildings used as churches in the UK than pubs, research from the National Churches Trust (NCT) shows.
The study was carried out by the Brierley Consultancy for the NCT. It showed that there are 40,300 buildings used for worship in the UK, compared with 39,000 pubs: 16,600 of the church buildings were Anglican. More than 11,000 pubs have closed in the past decade.
The Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, the Revd Lucy Winkett, who is a trustee of the NCT, said that, besides being places of worship, “church buildings also play a vital role in activities for the benefit of the wider community. It is estimated that nearly 90 per cent of churches are used for community purposes such as playgroups and lunch clubs, and for social and cultural activities including concerts and exhibitions.
“At a time when so many public buildings are closing, and high streets are losing their shops, church buildings are places where people can meet, work together, and build community. That’s why it’s so important to keep them open and in good repair.”
The number of buildings used as churches in the UK outstrips the other main building uses. Other statistics show that there are currently about 14,300 supermarkets, 11,500 post offices, 7500 bank branches, and 3600 public libraries.
The chief executive of the Brierley Consultancy, Peter Brierley, said: “Although some Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Methodist church buildings have closed in recent years, this loss has been outweighed by the growth of new Evangelical and Pentecostal church congregations.
“Migration to the UK is another factor behind the buoyancy in the number of church congregations. One of the first things that new communities do when arriving in the UK is to set up a place of worship. These new congregations often gather in non-traditional spaces such as converted cinemas, warehouses, or shops.
“Although much has been written about the decline in churchgoing in recent years, the number of Christian congregations and church buildings in the UK has remained remarkably stable.”