The full Web link for the New Church of England Statistics

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lots of interesting stuff to look through--check it out.

Filed under:

Posted October 28, 2010 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Terry Tee wrote:

I had a close look at the table Parochial baptisms and thanksgivings.  I was struck by the evidence of a stark, and growing divide in the Church of England between rural and urban areas.  The Church of England is surviving in rural and semi-rural areas.  In urban areas it is struggling to survive and indeed is already smaller than Catholics and Pentecostals.  For example, in the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, if you add together baptisms up to the age of 12, you still have less than 10% of children being baptised into the Church of England.  This diocese covers a vast swathe of (rather grimy) London south of the Thames, but also a stretch of Surrey where the wealthier commuters live.  So the figures for inner London are likely to be even worse than the above given the likelihood that the Surrey baptism rates are higher.  Another example:  Birmingham, great Midlands industrial city, around the 10% mark (again, adding together infant and child baptisms).  Manchester is better at around the 15% mark, Liverpool better again at 25%.  By contrast in the Lakeland diocese of Carlisle nearly 40% are baptised, 33.9% in the first year.  Bearing this in mind, reflect that both usual Sunday and average weekday church attendances have declined yet again, according to the table Average Weekly Attendances.  Where fewer and fewer people are baptised, can there ever be an increase in attendances?  A more specific question, and one that I have asked before:  Given that the Church of England has poured great resources into the Fresh Expressions programme, where is the proof of results?

October 28, 8:56 am | [comment link]
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks, Fr. Tee,

I’ve been probing into the baptism stats too, but what interested me was to track the severe decline over the last century.  In 1910, there were 689 Anglican infant baptisms for every 1000 live births (roughly 69%).  By 1980 that had dropped to merely 365 infant baptisms per 1000 births (roughly half the 1910 rate).  And in 2008, the rate had plunged to just 129 infant baptisms in the CoE for every 1000 children born in England (just 13%).

Well, on the good side, that would seem to indicate that there are a lot less “indiscriminate” baptisms, which have always been such a scandal.

Kendall is right.  There is a lot of food for thought here, and most of it is pretty bleak and discouraging for us Anglicans.  This data clearly confirms that what was once truly “THE Church of England” is now merely in reality “the Church of a tiny minority of England.”

Thomas Cranmer, call your office!

David Handy+

October 28, 10:35 am | [comment link]
3. Terry Tee wrote:

David, I certainly do not want Anglicans to feel bleak and discouraged.  The Church of England still has great strengths:  a church in every corner of the land.  Buoyant recruitment to the ordained ministry.  Flourishing cathedrals and big name churches.  I would go further.  I thought at the time (and still do think) that a significant part of the warm welcome given to Pope Benedict came from Anglicans who were glad to see the Christian heritage of the country lifted up and respected.  The strength of that welcome visibly surprised religion’s cultured despisers and took them unaware.  In sum:  there is still everything to play for, and my observations are that charismatic evangelicalism is bringing growth in many areas. 

On the regional distribution thing, the RC Church and the C of E are inverse images.  The Catholic Church is thriving in urban areas partly thanks to wave after wave of immigration, but struggles in rural areas where it is a thin diaspora with clergy ministering over long distances to congregations which in an urban setting would sometimes be thought too small to be viable.

October 28, 11:09 am | [comment link]
4. MichaelA wrote:

Do these differences correlate to demographics, i.e. are they simply a matter of immigrants who are already established in another church or religion being concentrated in certain areas?

I have no preconceptions on this score, just interested to know.

October 28, 7:11 pm | [comment link]
5. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks, Fr. Tee.  I appreciate your kind (and apt) words about the considerable strengths still present in the CoE.

As for the stark differences in attendance patterns between urban and rural areas, it’s worth noting that originally Christianity began as a predominantly urban affair (think of Paul’s missionary strategy and letters to urban churches).  Enough so that a “pagan” originally meant a rural person.

Here in America, Protestantism is much stronger in the small towns and rural areas than the major cities.  Of course, there are some splendid exceptions, such as Alpha’s home church, HTB (Holy Trinity, Bromption) in London, or Tim Keller’s thriving Redeemer Presbyterian in the heart of New York City, or John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist in downtown Minneapolis, but by and large, we’re not doing well at reaching the big cities for Christ.

David Handy+

October 28, 9:00 pm | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.

Next entry (above): Canadian Lutheran and Anglican bishops brainstorm solutions to common problems

Previous entry (below): Church of England publishes latest statistics on the web

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)