Commenting on the latest figures for attendance at Church of England churches (in 2008) which were released today, co-director of the religious thinktank Ekklesia warned about being mislead:
"The Church is taking 2002 its base year and highlighting a two per cent decline since then.
"2002 was in fact a 'blip' in which there was an unexpected drop. There has in fact been a five per cent decline in weekly attendance since 2001 and a three and a half per cent decline since 2003. It's a ten per cent decline since 2000.
"The Church should acknowledge openly the true extent of the problem it faces. The current trajectory is unsustainable both financially and institutionally.
"This may be a snapshot, but taken alongside other figures from previous years it gives a pretty full picture. The long-term trend not flat. It is still down and hasn't bottomed out."
Today's statement by the Church of England using 2002 as a base year is here: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/news/pr1310.html
The statistics for 2001 - 2005 are available here: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/2005provisionalattendance.pdf
The latest statistics for 2002-2008 are available here: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/2008provisionalattendance.pdf