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 Issues | The Church | Statistics

Attendance

Church Statistics, whilst not perhaps the most gripping reading, give important information about the shape and numerical health of the Church. Over a sustained period the Church of England has seen numerical decline.

Three measures of attendance are used. The most useful for long-term comparisons is the figure for Usual Sunday Attendance (USA). In 2000 the Church statisticians dropped the USA figure in favour of two new figures - Average Sunday Attendance and Average Weekly Attendance (both based on a 4 week survey conducted in October) which gave higher figures.

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Usual Sunday Attendance
The figures for Usual Sunday Attendance are not collected on a uniform basis from Diocese to Diocese, however, they do give a good indication of medium-term trends.  For a long-term trend (over 40 years) figures for Easter and Christmas communicants are the only attendance figures available.

On the basis of these figures in the decade to 1980 the Church of England lost around 30,000 members per year.  In the 1980s this decline slowed to around 10,000 a year but decline accelerated in 1992 (the year when women were ordained as priests) to around 20,000 average per year though in the last 3 years the anual fall appears to be less severe.

Year

Usual Sunday Attendance

1968

1,606,000
 
1970
1,542,000
1978
1,243,000
 
1980
1,230,000
1984
1,182,000
1986
1,167,000
 
1990
1,143,000
1991
1,137,000
1992
1,123,000
1993
1,090,000
1994
1,081,000
1995
1,045,000
1996
1,016,000
1997
996,000
1998
977,000
1999
969,000
 
2000
not collected
2001
938,000
2002
914,000
2003
901,000
2004
903,000
2005
881,000
2006 871,000
2007 868,000
2008 845,000
2009 826,000

Attendance (Usual Sunday)

Click graph to enlarge

 

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Average Sunday Attendance

Average Weekly Attendance

These are both calculated in an attempt to give a more realistic number of those in church week by week.  The figures are calculated over a 4 week period in October and should be collected in all churches on a consistent basis.

There is normally a delay of over a year before the statistics are collated and published although sometimes provisional figures are released in the autumn of the year following.

After showing a sharp fall in AWA in the first two years the 2003 figures suggested a rise in attendance although this fell back slightly in 2004.  This was mirrored in the ASA figure although the Usual Sunday Attendance figure continued to decline.

Year
Average Weekly Attendance
Average Sunday Attendance
2000
1,274,000
1,058,000
2001
1,205,000
1,041,000
2002
1,166,000
1,002,000
2003
1,187,000
1,017,000
2004
1,186,000
1,010,000
2005
1,174,000
993,000
2006 1,163,000 983,000
2007 1,160,000 978,000
2008 1,145,000 960,000
2009 1,131,000 944,000

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Children

Figures for adults and children/young people are collected separately.  The figures for children are given below.

Year
Average Weekly Attendance
Average Sunday Attendance
Usual Sunday Attendance
1997    
179,300
1998    
173,900
1999    
169,700
2000
n/a
2001
229,000
173,000
157,000
2002
228,000
167,000
151,000
2003
230,000
164,000
145,000
2004
235,000
164,000
143,000
2005
232,000
158,000
137,000
2006 228,000 155,000 133,000
2007 219,000 148,000 132,000
2008 225,000 148,000 127,000
2009 223,000 144,000 122,000

n/a = not available

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Sources

Various versions of Church Statistics published by the Archbishops' Council (previously by the Central Board of Finance).

See also the statistics links on the Links page.

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Related Links
Attendance Statistics
BulletIntroduction
BulletMinistry
BulletFinance
BulletChurch Attendance
BulletBaptisms
BulletConfirmations
BulletMen and Women

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