Return of the flock as church numbers rise

Church attendances across the West Midlands are rising, according to latest figures revealed today.

The number of adult worshippers going to a weekly service in the Diocese of Lichfield, which covers Staffordshire, parts of the Black Country and Shropshire, increased to 28,300 in 2012 – a rise of four per cent on the previous year.

Figures from parishes in the Diocese of Worcester, which covers Dudley and Worcestershire, show that in an average week 14,800 people attended a service in 2012, compared to 14,400 in 2011.

The figures from the Church of England also found that the number of baptisms were up.

Attendances at church have generally remained stable over the past 10 years with only a slight decline.

The majority of the visits took place on Sunday.

In 2008 there was 37,200 weekly attendances – by adults and children – in the Diocese, dropping to 36,900 in 2009, 35,600 in 2010 and 35,800 in 2011. In 2012 the figure was 35,900.

Figures for adults show that 27,400 attended on average in 2011 – jumping to 28,300 in 2012.

The average attendance figures do not include Christmas and Easter when attendance is much higher – up to double that in an average week.

The Bishop of Lichfield, Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming so many new people into the love of God and fellowship of our church.”’

The Diocese covers an area of two million people, making it the fifth largest in the country by population with 425 parishes and 573 churches. There are 502 clergy in active ministry – 142 women and 360 men. In 2012, the Diocese baptised 5,940 people.

There were 797 confirmations and 2,410 weddings – the second highest number in the country.

And the Diocese held 5,270 funerals, which is the highest number of any diocese in the country.

Overall in 2012, 1.05m people attended Church of England churches across the country each week showing no significant change over the past decade. Around one in five churches are growing, with just over 20 per cent declining.

Christmas and Easter services continue to attract higher numbers with services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attracting around 2.5 million people and services at Easter attracting 1.4 million people.

More than 100,000 young people aged 11 to 25 attended activities connected to the church in 2012.

Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops’ Council said: “The introduction of more rigorous methodological analysis means these figures provide a clearer picture of Anglican church-going.”

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