Just 800,000 worshippers attend a Church of England service on the average Sunday
Numbers in the pews have fallen to less than half the levels of the 1960s
Census evidence shows a widespread fall in allegiance to Christianity
Numbers of Christians has fallen more than four million in a decade
By STEVE DOUGHTY, SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
PUBLISHED: 00:06, 22 March 2014 Daily Mail
The Church of England attracts fewer than 800,000 worshippers to its churches on a typical Sunday, according to new estimates yesterday.
Numbers in the pews have fallen to less than half the levels of the 1960s, the count showed.
The signs of continuing decline in support for the CofE follow census evidence of a widespread fall in allegiance to Christianity, with numbers calling themselves Christian dropping by more than four million in a decade.
Fewer than 800,000 worshippers attend Church of England services on Sundays. Census evidence has revealed a fall in the number of people denoting themselves as Christians. Congregation levels now stand at half the level of the 1960s
The Church’s figure for ‘usual Sunday attendance’, the method used since the 1930s to measure congregations, found CofE churches had 795,800 worshippers on Sundays in 2012. The numbers were 9,000 down on the previous year.
They indicate that repeated efforts by the Church to modernise its services and its image – through a series of modern language rewrites of its prayer book, attempts by its leaders to appeal to supposed public concern with poverty, and efforts to make its government more efficient – have not succeeded in drawing young people.
Its report yesterday said that research had shown ‘there is no single recipe for growth; there are no simple solutions to decline’, adding ‘the Church must retain its young people if it is to thrive.’
Dr Bev Botting, the Church’s research chief, said: ‘These statistics for 2012 show that weekly attendance over the past decade has not changed significantly. The introduction of cleaner data and more rigorous methodological approaches and analysis means these figures provide a clearer picture of Anglican churchgoing in the decade to 2012.’
Church officials abandoned the ‘usual Sunday attendance’ method of counting as their main measure of congregations in the late 1990s after is showed numbers in the pew had dwindled below a million. It now uses for the headline figure ‘average weekly attendance’, which takes in people who come to churches on days other than Sunday.
The weekly figure averaged 1.05 million in 2012, showing ‘no significant change over the past decade.’
According to the 2011 national census, the number of Christians fell by 4.1 million over 10 years to 33.2 million – of whom only a third go to church except for wedding, baptisms or funerals.
The census found a 45 per cent rise over the same 10 years in numbers who say they have no religion, to 14.1 million in 2001.
The decline of religion is at its fastest among young people. Nearly a third, 32 per cent, of those under 25 said on their census forms that they had no religious belief.