Cathedral attendance falls for first time in 7 years

Reuters

The number of people attending cathedral services each week has fallen for the first time in seven years, new figures show.

Latest statistics from the Church of England show that more than than 10 million people visited cathedrals in England in 2014, an increase of more than a fifth in the last decade.

The number of adults and children attending cathedral services each week was 36,600. Although this represents an increase of 23 per cent since 2004, it is a fall from the record high in 2013 of 37,800.

The drop was nearly all accounted for by a fall in midweek attendance by adults.

The highest motivating factors for cathedral attendance were peace, contemplation, worship, music and a friendly atmosphere.

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Yorkshire and the Humber, London and the South East showed the strongest growth over the decade. Key aspects that helped growth were a sense of community, quality of worship, service, preaching and music, new service forms, spiritual openness and emphasis on families and young people.

Bev Botting, head of statistics at the Archbishops' Council, said: "Over the last decade we have seen growth in both visitors and worship at Cathedrals. Cathedral promotes spiritual openness, inclusivity and diversity in membership and outreach. Christmas and Easter are particularly busy times but we have also seen the increase of adult and child mid-week attendance. Cathedrals continue to play an important role in religious life, education and music."

The Very Rev Christopher Dalliston, the Dean of St Nicholas' Cathedral, Newcastle, said: "One of the things we've done is to try to respond to the number of tourists and visitors. We've developed a chaplaincy scheme so as well as having welcomers to help people who want to come and explore we can articulate clearly the spiritual dimension of the cathedral and we have found that's been enormously appreciated."

In a blog he admitted Newcastle was different to some cathedrals because it was surrounded by large green spaces at the heart of both the commercial and the clubbing districts.

"For several years we have hosted the street pastors scheme within and beyond the cathedral to care for the vulnerable members of the night time economy and people who need pastoral care. The cathedral has introduced a night church model and from time to time is open on Friday nights to enable people to come and find stillness, peace and spiritual exploration in an informal context. Two to three hundred people have been attending a late night compline service."

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