Alarm as Church Attendance in Wales Slumps

The Archbishop of Wales has urged the Church in Wales to find new ways to bring the gospel message to the people as a new report shows a dramatic slump in church attendance in Wales.

New figures out Thursday revealed that church attendances in Wales have slumped by almost a fifth in just five years, reports the Western Mail.

According to the latest estimates, fewer than 180,000 people in Wales regularly attended church last year compared with 218,500 in 2000.

And in just five years the percentage of regular churchgoers in all the chapels and churches across Wales has seen a fall from 7.4 per cent to just over 6 per cent of the population.

The church is witnessing a particularly serious decline in younger Sunday worshippers which have dropped by 7 per cent in the Church of Wales in one year alone.

The Church in Wales, which has retained the highest attendance in the country, said in a report it produced that "average attendances have continued to fall for both Sunday and weekday services at a relatively small but steady rate".

"But once again the rate of decline among members under the age of 18 is considerably steeper."

It added, "The decline in the number of baptisms and confirmations is of particular concern in the light of a similar decline in the number of young people coming to church generally."

The steep drop has been blamed by both Anglican and Roman Catholic Church leaders in the country on the increasingly fierce competition the church faces to win people's free time against other weekend leisure and social pursuits.

Both churches have responded to the alarming developments by exploring new initiatives that can win young Christians back to the church in an increasingly secular society.

Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, said, "Society is changing rapidly and it seems self-evident that the churches of Wales need to keep thinking afresh of ways in which that Gospel message can be communicated."

The figures were released just days before the closure of the church of St James the Great, one of the most prominent churches in Cardiff, after its congregation fell to just 15 and it failed to raise the necessary £75,000 to cover the cost of repairs and the estimated minimum annual running costs of £15,000.