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World News

Significant decline in children attending Church of England services over the last 20 years

by Lydia Davies

A senior Church Commissioner has revealed that the Church of England (C of E) is witnessing a sharp decline in attendance among young people, with significant numbers turning away from Sunday services. Second Church Estates Commissioner Andrew Selous MP revealed in a written answer in the House of Commons last week that the number of children attending C of E churches on an average Sunday has halved since 2003, dropping from 154,000 to 70,000 by 2022.

The Conservative MP for South West Bedfordshire was responding to a question by Neil O'Brien, who had asked about the average weekly attendance since 1994. However, Selous said it was only able to provide comparable data from 2003, since the church had only started collecting data in 2000.

The effect of Covid restrictions on children attending church is starkly evident in the decline from 94,000 in 2019 to 24,000 in 2020. Although the number rebounded to 62,000 in 2021, the lingering remnants of pandemic-related restrictions continue to influence attendance.

When looking at adult attendance, the figures paint a telling narrative. In 2003, the average Sunday attendance for adults stood at 802,000. However, by 2022, this number had dwindled to 477,000. In 2019, 619,000 adults were counted in C of E churches on a typical Sunday, yet this plummeted to 272,000 in 2020. There was a slight uptick in 2021, with attendance rising to 447,000, reflecting a nuanced trajectory of engagement over time.

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