The Church of England in Decline?

Just read the following and had to share it…

Will the last person to leave the Church of England please turn out the lights

The Church of England is an institution in decline, with fewer worshippers than ever and dissent in its ranks. Could salvation come in the form of severing its ties with the State?

By Adrian Hamilton
Monday, 18 April 2011 (The Independent)

As the faithful look forward to Easter and the Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to officiate at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it may seem inappropriate to be discussing the future of his Church. But this Easter week, I can’t help feeling – more than ever – that the Church of England will not survive my children’s lifetime and quite possibly not even my own.

It’s not the archaism of state occasions that makes me doubt the relevance of the CofE, nor the sight this Lent of a dozen or more clergy crossing the floor to join the Roman Catholics that has made me despair of its future. Nor is it the statistics showing an ever-diminishing number of English attending their services, although these are bad enough. It’s not even the spectacle of the Church wrapping itself in knots around the issues of ordaining women and gay bishops.

These are certainly signals of an institution in decline; a community turning in on itself as its relevance diminishes. But the Church has been here before and revived.

Read more here.


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About Chris

Scholar of religion/nonreligion... PhD Student (Lancaster University), blogger, singer, actor, thinker... Northern Irish living in Scotland. Co-founder of The Religious Studies Project. Director at the NSRN. Baritone masquerading as a tenor. Vegetarian for no particular reason.

5 responses to “The Church of England in Decline?”

  1. Derek Williams says :

    Speaking from a personally agnostic perspective and as a gay man, I nevertheless have some misgivings about a potential disappearance of the C of E:
    • Loss of its status as patron and caretaker of some of the greatest music ever written, and some of the most beautiful architecture ever constructed
    • Departure of its congregations either from its increasingly moderate catechism to that of the gay-bashing supermarket ‘charismatic’ religions, or to nowhere in particular, leaving some more than impressionable youth morally directionless.

    If the decline of the C of E is a sign that we’re growing up, and no longer need someone else to blame (“the devil made me do it”; “it was God’s will” etc.), all well and good. However, I’d prefer to see it mature as an organisation along humanist lines, so people of good will can continue to congregate and help others less fortunate than themselves.

  2. religionandmore says :

    I share those misgivings… I guess, especially on the music front, it is our responsibility to evangelise for its general amazingness. Would be so good if music became a much bigger part of public life and ceremonial.

  3. Derek Williams says :

    That’s reasonably courageous of the Tablet! Having been processed as a child by both Anglicanism and Catholicism, my impression has generally been that the baton of amazingness in Western ecclesiastical music passed from Catholic Palestrina to the C of E fairly quickly after the Reformation set in, which last had also been provoked in part by corruption of the Bishops! Is something comparable afoot here?

    I’m with you on the dearth of quality public ceremonial music, which I see as a direct outcome of ubiquitous democratization and concomitant bureaucratic pusillanimity evident also towards the likes of architecture and public art, such that compromised the realisation of the Sydney Opera House.

    The paradoxically much feared but not often enough consulted tax payer is too seldom given the real opportunity to choose between economic expediency and visionary, artistically brilliant longevity to bequeath to posterity for no particular reason other than that it simply exists. I can’t help but feel that in a thousand years’ time, there will be little evidence that anything was constructed post World War Two. Anything that is not knocked down after 40 years, will have generally fallen down in 50.

    When will politicians offer us the genuine choice between the Best option and the Cheapest? When will they passionately advocate for the magnificent, the epoch defining and the sublime? Again, speaking only for myself, I’m always happy to dig that little deeper for amazingness in public art and architecture, that will outlive me.

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