Cathedral Congregations Continue to Grow?

According to the Church of England, Cathedral congregations have continued to grow. Although I accept that I am naturally inclined to disagree with this statement, my initial reaction from recent experiences at Lincoln Cathedral and Westminster Abbey is that a lot of tourists pitch up to schedules services to avoid having to pay the exorbitant entrance fees that you have to pay at other times…

I suggest you read the full article:

Cathedral congregations continue to grow

Attendance levels at regular weekly services in Church of England cathedrals have increased significantly again this year, by 7%, say thelatest statistics from the Archbishops’ Council’s Research and Statistics Unit.

Since the turn of the millennium, they have steadily grown by a total of 37%, which is about 4% on average each year. At Sunday services alone, 15,800 adults and 3,100 children and young people are usually present while over the whole week the figures rise (by 73%) to 27,400 and 7,600 respectively. Westminster Abbey adds, on average, 1,800 people each week to these numbers.


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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.

2 responses to “Cathedral Congregations Continue to Grow?”

  1. Michael Hampson says :

    In his 2003 book God’s Pattern (a thoroughly dull read apart from this one truly delightful quote) Bishop David Stancliffe, then chairman of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, writes: ‘how do worshippers manage to keep on going to church faithfully when the way worship is prepared and offered is often so dire; when it is frequently confused with entertainment; and when it is led by those who apparently have no idea about what they are doing or professional competence in doing it?’

    I am willing to believe that cathedral services are, on average, not only less dire than average parish services, but also likely to gather up those who have given up on the local offering in despair.

    I am also a great believer in gathering in bigger groups: it is bound to be better. 1800 would be quite an ordinary catholic parish’s Sunday attendance in the US; a protestant or anglican congregation of 150, regarded as one of the largest in the diocese over here, would be regarded as unsustainably small in the states. The English cathedrals are just doing what the entire church should be doing: gathering the faithful together in larger groups.

  2. Michael Hampson says :

    Oh, PS … someone else has pointed out that the growth of cathedral congregations, like the growth in midweek attendance, is but an indiscernible blip on the relentless weekly Sunday decline … and of course catholic Sunday attendance in England has long exceeded the national church’s own…

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