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Church of England cathedrals see rise in attendance

Cathedral attendances in the Church of England have grown 35% in the past decade. The number of worshippers at 42 cathedrals grew to 35,800, according to Cathedral Statistics 2012. Last Easter witnessed the highest attendance in the last 10 years with 54,700 people through the doors.  But it's attendance at midweek services that has grown the most, from 8,900 in 2002, to 16,800. Sunday attendance has grown from 17,500 to 19,100.

The numbers of children and young people attending educational events is the highest for a decade with 306,800 in 2012, compared to 265,100 in 2002. 

The number of volunteers serving cathedrals continued to rise, reaching 15,570, that's 30% up on the 11,930 in 2002.  Liverpool is the UK's largest Cathedral and statistics show it is filled to capacity a number of times a year.

Alongside the 400,000 tourists and visitors that come every year, nearly 100,000 attended at least one service in 2012, with Christmas being the busiest time.

The cathedral has also seen increasing numbers for the Blessing of the crib/lighting the tree and Holly Bough services.

Easter is another busy time and this year saw between 250 and 200 people attend the first ever Cathedral Passion Play performed in Holy Week.  Cathedral spokesman Stuart Haynes told Premier's Marcus Jones stronger community links attract more people. 

Education visits at Ely Cathedral attracted nearly 10,000 students with a hugely popular 'Holiday Drop In' every Monday Wednesday during the school holidays offering a range of activities including arts, crafts, and storytelling.

Last year more than 700 people attended the opening night of the Olympics which was shown on a big screen.

The Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift Food Fair attracted 6,000 people over two days and the Flower Festival 20,000 over four days. There is also a week long business exhibition in the Cathedral (A Celebration of Business) attracting thousands of people and more than 150 local businesses as exhibitors.

A spokeswoman for the cathedral said:

"These are not just fund raising/money making events. 

"They help bring people into the building, often for the first time, and once they have experienced the Cathedral they may return for a Service or wish to discover more. 

"I think lay events such as these have helped increase overall attendance at our services and other liturgical events in the Cathedral."

Truro Cathedral, in line with many others, has seen an increase in numbers attending services, particularly at Christmas and Easter.

This has been welcomed by the Dean of Truro, the Very Revd Roger Bush, who said:

"It is very gratifying to see how well we are maintaining our congregations, especially in the context of overall falling church attendance figures.

"We are particularly pleased to see a younger profile of visitor attend a number of family events including a Cushion Concert with the Choristers, several Free Family Fun Days and of course the success of our ice skating rink during the winter. 

"We want to take a positive step out into the community we serve. We want to engage with people across the spectrum and by that engagement bring them into a closer relationship with God. We need to be more outward facing and less inward looking."

Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the Archbishops' Council said:

"Cathedrals continue to flourish as worshipping communities while offering a valuable insight into our nation's heritage.

"The statistics show people of all ages are increasingly drawn to cathedrals for worship, to attend educational and civic events, and to volunteer to ensure our cathedrals are open to all those who are drawn to visit and worship in these wonderful buildings."

There are 43 cathedrals in the Church of England, 44 including the Diocese in Europe.

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