Thursday, September 29, 2016

Church Membership Plummets In Wales, But Bishop Holds Onto Hope

Image result for church of walesTumbling church attendance in Wales could herald the end of Sunday worship as it is currently known.

Bishop of Bangor Andy John said he believed there could be a shift in worship patterns towards different types of events that appeal more to young people and people with families.

He was talking to Christian Today after the latest Church in Wales statistics show that since 1990, the church has lost more than half its members. Average Sunday attendance is now less than one per cent of the total population of Wales.

In one year alone, between 2014 and 2015, average adult Sunday attendance fell from 30,424 to 29,019, a fall of five per cent. Even weekday attendance was down by three per cent to 3,896.

Easter communicants were down one per cent to 51,435, while the number of Christmas communicants fell three per cent to 49,972.

More than 30,000 people took part in some form of non-traditional worship such as arts festival or beach services in 2015, but even this was down from 36,000 in 2014, a fall of one fifth.

This is also having an effect on finances.

The statistics report says: "Despite the generosity of members, the Church in Wales's long-term financial security is being damaged by the fall in numbers. This is in addition to the very real damage being done to the church's capacity for and effectiveness in its mission and ministry by becoming numerically smaller year-on-year."

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales noted the figures "with a heavy heart".

Bishop John told Christian Today that the problem was not so much a lack of money as the best way to spend it to help revive the fortunes of the Church.

He said the Church remained committed to the current parish system.

But many young people do not turn up at church on Sunday mornings simply because they are still in bed. People are getting older, and as they die, they are not being replaced by younger generations.

"The crucial thing that the Church can do is invest in areas where there is evidence that growth can take place," the bishop said, noting that this meant initiatives taking place in unusual venues. This is a "risk", he said, but one that the Church has to take.

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