New figures released by the Church of England for 2005 show a mixed picture for trends in church attendance with smaller Sunday congregations, but more children and young people taking part in parish worship.
The report showed that regular Sunday attendance fell by two per cent, while weekly and monthly attendance fell by one per cent or less. The latest figures follow two years in which the numbers have increased or held steady.
Hopeful news emerged from the figures, however, as Christmas Eve/Christmas Day attendance increased by six per cent, with the number of children and young people attending at least monthly increased by one per cent and more than half the parishes reported running or planning a ‘fresh expression of church’.
More children and young people are experiencing parish worship. The latest annual statistics show 441,000 under-16s attending services at some time in the month. The number has increased each year since accurate weekly records were first systematically collated in 2001, adding up to a six percent increase on the 416,000 counted that year, the Church of England has explained.
Meanwhile, 39 per cent of parishes reported starting a ‘fresh expression of church’ since 2000, 33 per cent starting projects aimed at occasional and non-churchgoers and six per cent starting other fresh expressions.
A further 12 per cent of parishes said they were planning one within the next two years. Almost half of those who are already supporting one fresh expression are planning another.