Comments: Statistics For Mission 2013

and so the frog gets ever nearer to boiling point. Talking up the positives may be good for encouraging the troops, but yet again the CofE is shrinking overall, and the majority of dioceses are still declining. The way the figures are presented seems designed to avoid facing the uncomfortable facts.

Posted by David Keen at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 1:02pm GMT

The spin doesn't reflect the downward trend of all the graphs. +Tim Truro is saying that he is giving the CofE in Cornwall six years before the For Sale sign goes up. +Julian Blackburn fears that the Anglican presence in Lancashire may well go the same way as the Cotton Mills! So, where are we going wrong that the Eternal Gospel is failing to win converts in England?

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 6:46pm GMT

"So, where are we going wrong that the Eternal Gospel is failing to win converts in England?"

Secularization is the trend. Nonetheless, this is a very good question. TEC has been holding fairly steady after the schism stuff, and some of those people are coming back. But we can't beat the demographic. Still.

Studies in the US say that younger people, under 40's, are interested in the ancient liturgies and music that isn't "dumbed down." They want to question, they don't want pat answers. This all speaks well for Anglicanism, except for this: they can't tolerate intolerance of LGBT people or misogyny or any of that culture war stuff.

If this holds true for the UK, then the WB brouhaha with the perception that Parliament forced CoE into it, doesn't help. And the current behavior of CoE leadership towards LGBT clergy and getting that exclusion from inclusive marriage is yet another nail in that coffin.

My worship experience and welcome in the CoE in the UK has been warm and wonderful, with the exception of one bishop. Thus my perception is that there's a lot of hope in CoE, just not in the current leadership.

The younger folks also want to see churches that walk the talk, i.e. feed the hungry, cloth the naked, do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I.e., they want to hear the church proclaim the Good News and to actually do it rather than wallow in hypocrisy.

My guess is that some CoE churches probably do all of that brilliantly. But your "branding" from the top? Hmm…

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 10:09pm GMT

Extract from BBC piece: 'The Diocese of Truro voted on 8 November 2014 for a 28% increase in the amount of money it needs from local churchgoers to reduce a £1.2m deficit over the next year.' So the people in the pews are penalised for the vanity projects of yesteryear. Perhaps the people in the pews should demand the resignation of bishops and archdeacons and diocesan CEOs who have got dioceses into these messes.

Posted by Fr William at Tuesday, 11 November 2014 at 10:43pm GMT

I am trying to make some comparisons with the USA scene. So less than 2% of the UK population attends C of E services weekly. What about all of the other denominations?
Ongoing reports on USA church attendance is lamenting the drop in attendance of all Christian groups to a bit over 40% of the combined memberships, as I understand it. What comparisons can be made within those parameters of Christian attendance in the UK?
Furthermore, what is the total membership of the C of E, active and inactive?

Posted by Bob McCloskey at Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 12:16am GMT

The great (and tragic) irony with Truro is that, at his enthronement, Tim Thornton took to the pulpit like the new CEO of Tesco at the shareholder's AGM. What he wasn't going to do, what we weren't going to do, was no-one's business. Since then, it has been swiftly downhill all the way. Too many internal appointments at senior level has meant no fresh perspective. The rather tired and condescending episcopal tone has not gone down well among many of the parishes and - to cap it all - the economic indicators for Cornwall mean that a 28% increase in giving is just a pipedream. That's on top of the fact that the Cornish will not be pushed around like that.

Posted by James at Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 11:10am GMT

It's one thing for the Truro Diocesan Synod to pass a resolution requesting a massive 28% increase in the Parish Share, quite another thing to actually collect such a sum from the parishes. Looks like the writing is on the wall for the CofE in Cornwall and it may be time to start thinking about returning to the Mother Church in Exeter. I should imagine that the diocese of Exeter is quite wealthy in terms of historic resources. I was much impressed by their "Million for Mission" campaign supporting outreach projects within the diocese with substantial grant aid.
They created a mega-diocese in Yorkshire is the time now right for creating a similar mega-diocese on the South West peninsular? Although the very thought of such would have Edward White Benson (the first Bishop of Truro) spinning in his grave.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 12:34pm GMT

I do wish Steve Croft (and other senior figures in the C of E) would stop talking about membership and 'church members.' The C of E doesn't have 'members' (like the Methodists and the Lib Dems). We are here for everyone - especially those who have nowhere else to go. This is what makes us distinctive - and if we started taking our ecclesiology much more seriously in the way we do mission, we might just yet avoid sleepwalking into congregationalism and suffering the same fate as the URC, Methodists, Baptists and all the other decimated Free Church denominations.

By the way, have I missed something, or is there a reason why the figures for cathedrals don't appear in this latest set of stats? Do they not count - or do cathedrals not matter (even though they seem to be bucking the trend)?

Posted by Simon R at Wednesday, 12 November 2014 at 3:21pm GMT

Isn't it a dangerous leap to go from an average weekly attendance of a million people to saying they are even active within their church, let alone that they are 'activist members'?

An in depth look at any cofe church would surely show that to be incorrect.

Posted by Alastair Newman at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 9:08am GMT

I agree wholeheartedly with Simon R

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 6:37pm GMT

'We are here for everyone'. Who are 'we'? And where is 'here'? We have to start from some-where with this faith and church stuff. And the committed 'we' and 'here' that are trying to be faithful and open to the gospel vision and message could be called 'members' couldn't they? What is wrong with that? Not 'everyone' out there would welcome the thought that they are part of all this without having chosen to be. There is strange line of thought around that committed local churches are not relevant or can only exist as exclusive religious groups.

Posted by David Runcorn at Friday, 14 November 2014 at 10:25am GMT

Thank you Simon R and David Runcorn. Having owned a home in England for 20 years and being licensed to officiate, I never could grasp the notion of being unable to statistically determine membership in the C of E. I understand the long-standing cultural notion that the local vicar serves the entire community but the claim that s/he is the only one who enjoys that privilege/obligation seems very out of date today. Also quite apart from the Free Church traditions, what about the Roman Catholic Church. Surely there is some way of comparing its statistics to the C of E?
I would be interested in how the RC Church compares with the CofE in terms of percentage of the population of England [53 million +/-] attending Mass weekly, which puts the CofE at c. 1.8% maximum of the population.

Posted by Bob McCloskey at Friday, 14 November 2014 at 3:20pm GMT

I would like to think that our Anglican parish in Edmonton is also 'here for everyone' (although we are not an established church and are a minority); I don't see that as antithetical to having 'members'.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Saturday, 15 November 2014 at 12:40am GMT

The increase of adult baptisms by 32% is a staggering number. i would be interested to know more about what is causing this.

Posted by Josh L. at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 3:18am GMT

Figures from this piece from the BBC ( suggest that about one million RC mass attendees in 2009 in England and Wales (it dates from BXVI's visit in 2010). The graphs suggest that the CofE maintains a slight lead over the RCC in weekly attendance, but a far greater proportion of Catholics attend than Anglicans. Both are in long-term decline, so it's likely that RC attendance will exceed Anglican in the near to middle distance.

Posted by Richard at Sunday, 16 November 2014 at 4:47pm GMT
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