Attendance at Church of England services continues to decline

(Photo: The Church of England)

Regular attendance at Church of England churches has fallen again, latest figures show. 

The number of regular worshippers attending a Church of England church once a month or more decreased by 1% in 2019 to 1.11 million.

On average, 854,000 people attended Church of England services and acts of worship each week in October 2019, a decline of 2.1% compared to the year before.

The additional number of people attending services for schools in Church of England churches rose by 3% to 182,000, but usual Sunday attendance fell by 2% to 690,000 in 2019.

Christmas and Advent services remained strong with nearly eight million attendances, while over a million people turned out for a  Church of England Easter service. 

The 2019 Statistics for Mission report was released alongside the Church's digital report, which shows growing online engagement.

There are now 17,000 online services and events listed on the Church of England's A Church Near You website after the pandemic forced parishes to go digital.

The events include Sunday Communion services, Bible studies, and prayers for the morning and evening. 

The figure does not include the Church of England's national online Sunday service, which was launched across its website, Facebook and YouTube pages after the country went into lockdown. 

The national services, which have featured the Duke of Cambridge and Pope Francis among the special guests, have amassed nearly three million views.

According to the Church's data, around one in five of those tuning in for the national online service go to church only infrequently or not at all. 

The digital report also shows strong engagement across the Church of England's apps, which have been used over seven million times this year, with the Daily Prayer and Daily Office apps being the most popular.

Engagement with social media posts has also doubled on last year's figure, with 86 million views so far in 2020, and there has been a considerable upswing in clergy and lay leaders taking part in digital training.

Over 4,200 vicars and local church leaders have taken part in the Church of England's remote digital training courses so far this year, four times the number in 2019.

Latest mission statistics for the Church show that even before the pandemic, parishes were running or supporting 35,000 social action projects, from food banks and lunch clubs to support groups for older people and toddlers. This is up from 33,000 social action projects in 2017.

The figures reveal the extent to which local churches are contributing to the national effort against food poverty, with nearly 60% of churches involved in running a food bank. Some 2,700 churches are involved in community cafes, while 2,300 run holiday or breakfast clubs.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: "At a time when many have felt isolated and fearful, Church of England parishes and clergy have broadcast thousands of online church services and events, seeking to bring comfort and hope to their communities.

"We know that tens of thousands of those tuning in will never have had contact with their local Church of England parish before and may never have heard the Christian message. Their welcome presence is a sign of the great hunger we all have for spiritual meaning in our lives."