New Church of England statistics for 2013 published today show that an average of one million people attend services each week, down about 1% on the previous year
The one million figure relates to regular weekly parish and cathedral services and does not include other core services carried out by the Church of England on a regular basis. With some 2,000 baptisms, 1,000 weddings and 3,000 funerals conducted every week it is estimated that a further half a million people attend a service conducted by a Church of England minister every week. In addition the count (which takes place in October) does not include the many carol and nativity services during Advent and many other regular services responding to community need. The services carried out by the Church of England's chaplains in hospitals, prisons, schools, universities and military bases are also excluded from the attendance totals.
Figures for Christmas attendance show a stable trend, with 2.4 million people attending services on Christmas Eve and Day - where figures have hovered around the 2.5 million mark over the past decade.
Speaking on the publication of the statistics, the Bishop of Sheffield, The Rt. Revd. Steven Croft, said:
"These figures show the Church of England continues to serve the nation with a core of 1 million activist members who worship faithfully each week.
At a time when membership of political parties is at an historic low and in a society which feels increasingly time squeezed, it is conspicuous that the Church of England's committed weekly base of parish worshippers remains a million strong with the last Census showing many millions more identifying with the Church.
In addition to the regular worshipping core the Church continues to serve all those who look to us to mark the most important events of their life journey through weddings, baptisms and funerals. Through these services alone we estimate that a further half a million people attend Church every week of the year, many of whom will be only fringe or occasional visitors."
A new part of the 2013 research reveal that nearly half of the 67,000 new joiners to churches are coming for the first time rather than from another church. This was the first time a split was introduced in the joiners and leavers section to measure those moving to or from other local churches.
There was also new research on attendance at advent services including nativity and carol services - outside of usual Sunday services. Although not every church gave figures, attendance at special services during advent is estimated to be around 5 million.
A change in baptism trends shows that adult baptisms are on the increase over the past decade - from 8,000 per year to 11,000 per year, an increase of 32% over the last 10 years.