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More churches than pubs in UK

by Cara Bentley

There are around 39,000 pubs in the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics, with more than 11,000 pubs having closed in the last decade - a fall of almost a quarter. 

However, there are around 40,300 church buildings open to the public and in use, which is also higher than other key public buildings in the UK.

Eddie Tulasiewicz, from the National Churches Trust told Premier: "Pubs have been closing but churches haven't really. There have been closures around the country, some churches have closed in smaller numbers in some parts of the country but their closure has been outweighed particularly by the rise of new denominations, evangelical churches and pentacostal churches."

In comparison, there are around 14,300 supermarkets operated by grocery retailers, 11,500 post office branches, 7,500 bank branches and 3,600 public libraries.

"Churches are obviously places of worship but communities meet there and they don't want to let them go" said Eddie Tulasiewicz. 

He added that often people will fight to keep their local church open because of the number communtiy actitivites that are hosted there. 

Nearly 1 in 5 polling stations are in church buildings and, aside from the commmon use as a venue for youth groups, older people's clubs and nurseries and concerts, some even house post-offices, GP surgeries and farmers' markets.

Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James's church in Piccadilly and trustee of the National Churches Trust said: "As well as being places of worship, church buildings also play a vital role in activities for the benefit of the wider community. It is estimated that nearly 90% of churches are used for community purposes such as playgroups and lunch clubs and for social and cultural activities including concerts and exhibitions."

"At a time when so many public buildings are closing and high streets are losing their shops, church buildings are places where people can meet, work together and build community. That's why it's so important to keep them open and in good repair."

Peter Brierley, chief executive of The Brierley Consultancy who did the research migration was one reason church numbers have increased: "Migration to the UK is another factor behind the buoyancy in the number of church congregations. One of the first things that new communities do when arriving in the UK is to set up a place of worship. These new congregations often gather in non-traditional spaces such as converted cinemas, warehouses or shops.

"Although much has been written about the decline in church going in recent years, the number of Christian congregations and church buildings in the UK has remained remarkably stable."

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