Surprise fall in Sunday church attendance

By staff writers
24 Jan 2007

Figures just released by the Church of England record that regular Sunday church attendance in 2005 fell by over two per cent.

This follows two years in which the numbers appeared to be holding fairly steady.

Regular Sunday church attendance fell by just one per cent in 2004 whilst weekly and monthly churchgoing held steady and the number of children and young people at services rose by two per cent.

The latest figures show however that weekly and monthly attendance also fell by one per cent in 2005.

The news will be disappointing for some in the Church who were hoping that the longer-term downward tread had ended.

But the Church of England said that the figures showed a mixed picture with more children and young people taking part in parish worship. 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’.

The numbers are boosted by the fact that attendance is required to get children into some church schools.

The increase however was not reflected in the figures for baptism and services of thanksgiving for children which fell 2% and 13% respectively.

The Church also pointed out that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attendance increased by six per cent.

Attendance on Easter Day however fell by the same amount.

The new statistics record 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.

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