Church of England attendance remains below pre-pandemic levels

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The Church of England has failed to return to pre-pandemic levels of attendance, latest figures show.

Average weekly attendance at services rose by nearly five per cent to 685,000 in 2023, new data published by the Church on Monday reveals. 

It marks a third year of consecutive growth for the Church of England but figures still remain far below the 845,000 - or around 1.45% of the population - who were attending in 2019 before the pandemic struck. 

It is also beow the 747,000 people the Church of England predicted would have attended weekly services in 2023 if there had been no pandemic.

However, the data further shows that while in 2021 all-age Sunday attendance was 22.3 per cent below the projected pre-pandemic trend, by last year the gap had narrowed to 6.7 per cent.

The statistics are based on a snapshot of data returned from over 11,000 churches.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, remained optimistic, saying, "This is very welcome news and I hope it encourages churches across the country. I want to thank our clergy and congregations who have shown such faith, hope and confidence over recent years to share the gospel with their communities.

"I'm especially heartened to hear that more children are coming along to church and I'm grateful to everyone involved in that ministry.

"These are just one set of figures, but they show without doubt that people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ here and now – and realising it's the best decision they could ever make.

"Renewing and growing the Church is always the work of God, and it's our role to join in with what God is doing.

"As we gather in churches this weekend to celebrate Pentecost, let's keep praying and working to invite more people to discover the love of Jesus Christ."