Church in Wales attendance plummets

Average Sunday attendance declined 5 per cent between 2014 and 2015, with 0.9 per cent of the population worshipping in Church of Wales congregations on Sunday.

A report prepared for last month’s meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales reports average Sunday attendance declined 5 per cent between 2014 and 2015, with 0.9 per cent of the population worshipping in Church of Wales congregations on Sunday. While 57 per cent of the population self-identify as Christians, few are making their way to Church in Wales parishes as average Sunday attendance for over-18s fell from 30,424 in 2014 to 29,019 in 2015: while Easter communicants declined one per cent to 51,435; and Christmas communicants declined three per cent to 49,972. Since 2004 the church’s average Sunday attendance declined 31 per cent from 41,771 to its present rate. The report presented to the 14-15 Sept 2016 meeting of the Governing Body was received with concern. The chairman of the Representative Body, Mr. James Turner, told the meeting that although attendance was falling across the board “that is not the case in nearly half of our parishes. We fear the church is losing touch with our young people, but there are indications that, through hard work and intentional investment, good things are happening around the country.” The total decline of 1400 between 2014 and 2015, if placed in right perspective was “less than two people per parish.” He said he was confident the Church in Wales would be able to “reverse the decline and plan for growth”. After the report was presented with a motion for the Governing Body to “take note” of the report, several speakers voiced frustration with the leadership of the church and its tone that all was well. The Rev. Richard Wood from the Diocese of Bangor urged the Governing Body to look at those churches who were bucking the trend and growing, to see what set them apart from those in decline. The Bishop of Bangor, the Rt. Rev. Andrew John concurred, saying learning from the churches successes and failures would enable it to respond to the changing dynamics of faith in Wales. However the assistant Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt. Rev. David Wilbourne, (pictured) urged the Governing Body not to panic. While statistics reported a church in decline, Jesus Christ remained Lord and the church was not finished yet. The report was amended to state the Governing Body took note “with a heavy heart” and requested the standing committee as a “matter of urgency, identify the minority of parishes which are growing, investigate the factors behind this, and suggest what we might implement from this good practice.” It was adopted without dissent.

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