From Church House press unit. Please note the fresh expressions stats in particular:
Figures just released by the Church of England for 2005 continue to show a mixed picture for trends in church attendance with smaller Sunday congregations but more children and young people taking part in parish worship.
Regular Sunday attendance fell by two per cent, while weekly and monthly attendance fell by one per cent or less. This follows two years in which the numbers increased or held steady.
Meanwhile, Christmas Eve/Christmas Day attendance increased by six per cent, the number of children and young people attending at least monthly increased by one per cent and more than half the parishes reported running or planning a ‘fresh expression of church’.
More children and young people are experiencing parish worship. The latest annual statistics show 441,000 under-16s attending services at some time in the month. The number has increased each year since accurate weekly records were first systematically collated in 2001, adding up to a six percent increase on the 416,000 counted that year.
An extra question in the parish returns for 2005 shows that 39 per cent of parishes reported starting a ‘fresh expression of church’ since 2000: 33 per cent starting projects aimed at occasional and non-churchgoers and six per cent starting other fresh expressions. A further 12 per cent of parishes said they were planning one within the next two years. Almost half of those who are already supporting one fresh expression are planning another. [see chart at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/churchstats2005/freshexpressions.htm]
A fresh expression of church is a genuinely new departure for a parish, not simply an additional activity or a stepping-stone to Sunday services. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the fresh expressions already started involve under-16s, a third (33 per cent) involve 16-25 year-olds and 89 per cent involve adults. Many of these may not be included in the parish statistics.
The new statistics confirm that around 1.7 million people attend Church of England church and cathedral worship each month, while around 1.2 million attend services each week – on Sunday or during the week - and just under one million each Sunday.
The figures for 2005, released today, can be seen on the web at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/2005provisionalattendance.pdf. They show that:
• Average Sunday attendance fell by two per cent to 988,000. (2004: 1,010,000; 2003: 1,017,000).
• Average weekly attendance fell by one per cent to 1,169,000, following no change last year. (2004: 1,186,000; 2003: 1,187,000).
• Average monthly attendance fell by one per cent to 1,694,000, following no change last year. (2004: 1,707,000; 2003: 1,704,000).
• The average number of children and young people at services weekly fell by one per cent to 231,000, reversing some of the two per cent rise last year. (2004: 235,000; 2003: 230,000). The number attending monthly increased by one per cent to 441,000, continuing the recent trend.
The traditional ‘usual Sunday attendance’*** measure fell by three per cent to 881,000, having held steady last year. (2004: 903,000; 2003: 901,000).
The Revd Lynda Barley, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council, said: “These latest figures confirm that, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, patterns of churchgoing and church affiliation in England are changing. Although weekly Sunday attendance has dropped, the numbers of children and young people experiencing parish worship has risen, as have the numbers of people worshipping at Christmas. And a third of parishes have begun fresh expressions of church for occasional and non-churchgoers, many of which do not get counted in attendance statistics.
“The figures also show that attendance at church services outside Sundays continues to add a significant number to local congregations. For every 50 people attending church on a typical Sunday, another nine attend during the week and an extra 35 in total over a month. Churches are responding well to the changing lifestyles of their congregations.
“There are signs in several areas of the country of more sustained growth beyond special occasions. More than a third of dioceses saw an increase in their total church attendance levels over 2005, from Truro to Durham, Manchester to Canterbury: approaching half have seen increases in total attendance over the three years to 2005. This is encouraging news for local churches as they seek to meet the increasingly evident spiritual needs of their neighbourhoods.”
Other features of the 2005 statistics released today:
Fifteen dioceses* (1 in 3) saw increases in attendance levels over a typical week and a typical month among adults, children and young people. Similar numbers saw increases separately among adults and among children and young people attending church services. The accompanying tables provide detailed diocesan information for 2004 and 2005 together with national comparisons for 2001 to 2005.
Nineteen dioceses over the years 2003 to 2005 ** saw overall increases in attendance levels over a typical week and a typical month among adults, children and young people. A similar number saw increases in adult attendance levels while more than half (23) saw increases in the number of children and young people attending church services each month and each week.
The number of children and young people in regular contact with local Church of England services of worship has steadily increased each year since 2001 when accurate weekly records began to be systematically collated. It is now six per cent higher than 2001 levels. Approaching double the number of children and young people now attend church services over a typical month compared to the number present on an average week. Much of this growth is due to contact with children and young people in the week rather than on Sundays.
The number of adults in regular contact with local church services of worship has maintained at similar levels since 2002. The approximation to attendance levels over a typical month continues to show that around 1.3 million adults attend Church of England churches each month. This is 38% more than the average attendance level each week and 56% more than on an average Sunday.
The number of adult baptisms has increased by 1 in 8 (12 per cent) since 2001 and the corresponding number of child baptisms has increased by 9 per cent. The decline in infant baptisms continued.
The number of marriages conducted in Church of England parish churches is at similar levels to 2001 at 57,200 (57,000 in 2004), whereas the number of funerals conducted by the Church of England continues to decline.
Attendance at Church of England church services on Christmas Day/ Eve increased dramatically in 2005 and was 7% higher than 2001 at 2,786,200. In contrast, there was a sudden dip in Easter observance to 1,417,800, negating the 2003 and 2004 increases.
In 2005, the parish electoral rolls stood at 1,269,000 continuing the small annual increase as people are steadily added to the roll by parishes until the major revision every six years. The size of the parish electoral rolls although similar overall to adult church attendance over a typical month, masks very different practices across the Church of England parishes and dioceses.