I usually take the collection at the noon Mass on Sundays at St Wilfrid's Church in York. As part of that job, I have to count the congregation each Sunday in October. I presume that the figures are added to the figures at the other Sunday Masses and passed on to some department in the Diocese of Middlesbrough, which in turn passes them on to to the bishop's conference. Regrettably, neither diocesan or national figures have been published in recent years. I understand that this is because many parishes either fail to make their return, or make one that is incomplete, or make one that contains figures that are obviously far from correct.
In contrast, the Church of England publishes very detailed figures. Although the accompanying press release attempts to to present them in a very positive way, anyone wishing to delve into them can do so. The statistics for 2015 have just been published, and I have extracted what I believe to be the key figures.
Average Sunday Attendance October 2014 829,100
Average Sunday Attendance October 2015 810,600
Or expressed as a percentage 2.2%
This figure must be fairly worrying for the CofE, as they have many churches that are Listed Buildings and are difficult to close. Also, with so many churches, they need to maintain the number of their clergy.
When one comes to look at individual churches, there is even more to worry about. Of the 5% of churches with the smallest average October attendance, the average size of the congregation is 4. The average size of the October congregation at the smallest 25% of churches is just 14. One womders how long this can be sustained.
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