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Friday, 9 September 2016

Church in Wales attendance down 5% 2014-2015

Source: The Church in Wales Membership and Finances 2015

The average Sunday attendance of worshippers over 18 in the Church in Wales dropped another 5% between 2014 and 2015 according to the latest figures published in The Church in Wales Membership and Finances 2015. That represents just 0.9% of the population of Wales.

British Religion in Numbers (BRIN) puts the problem of declining numbers into perspective. In 2004 the Over 18 average attendance on Sundays was 41,771 making the 2015 figure of 29,019 all the more startling, a fall of 12,752 on the 2004 figure (-31%), but the Church in Wales simply carries on regardless continuing its "Gadarene slide" as VirtueOnline puts it in Viewpoints.

Attempts to bolster numbers by adding 'Non-traditional Acts of Worship' such as Animal blessings, Café churches, Teenscreen clubs and Interfaith engagement have served only to emphasis the decline: "Overall, it would seem that just over 30,000 people in total participate in some form of nontraditional worship, compared with 36,000 in 2014".

The Membership and Finance Report (pdf) is way down the Agenda at item 19 for the next meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales to be held 14 - 15 September 2016. There will be a Motion: That the Governing Body do take note of this report.

Given the seriousness of the situation one would have thought that 'taking note' of the Report is somewhat short of the mark but with "Evangelism" coming last on the agenda it puts the current state of the Church in Wales in context. 

The Report follows "Admission to Holy Communion – Pastoral Letter " [item 18]. There is no clue as to what surprises the bishops have in store in their Pastoral Letter which is to be "distributed at the time", a device favoured by the bench sitters to avoid anyone with an enquiring mind being forewarned.

This is reminiscent of the same sex marriage manoeuvring and of the women bishops saga which provided a worthless code of practice for anyone who holds their faith in conscience making the forthcoming Conference to "preserve the breadth of Anglicanism in Wales" all the more confusing. Dr Morgan has remained true to his word that there would be alternative Episcopal oversight in Wales 'over his dead body'. He retires as Archbishop of Wales in January 2017 so is there to be new life? Simply to carry on as before would make nonsense of the conference.

The un-Christian Jackson/Wigley Amendment to the women bishops legislation established that unlike other Anglican provinces 'provisions for conscience should not be included in the body of  formal legislation' and that 'legislation should not include structural provision to accommodate dissent' thus removing the prospect of any meaningful sacramental and pastoral provision for church members who in conscience could not accept the ministry of women bishops.

It would be absurd to have a male assistant to a woman bishop on whose authority he would act so given that there will be no "structural provision to accommodate dissent" in Wales the way forward must be to allow Society bishops to minister in Wales. The Welsh bishops have already invited US women bishops to celebrate the Eucharist in the Church in Wales and I see from Item 20 on the GB agenda, "Evangelism – Report from the Evangelism Conference", that Bishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, was able to lead 2 key sessions. To refuse loyal Anglicans access to Society bishops would not just be uncharitable, it would be hypocritical.

As the Church in Wales continues to decline in numbers the Ordinariate is increasing and is gaining more priests. In this month's edition of New Directions, the Chairman of Credo Cymru (FiF Wales) quotes the previous Archbishop of Wales Rowan Williams who stressed the value of promoting internal ecumenism. By allowing bishops from outside Wales to minister to 'traditionalists' the bench would regain some much needed credibility and provide a reason for worshippers to remain in the Church in Wales.


  1. Your final sentence AB reminds us how much more accommodating Rowan was. If there is to be a 'Second Coming' (Emeritus Archbishop), any chance it could be him - not Barry?

  2. At least funerals haven't exceeded baptisms as they have in much of the Episcopal church USA.

  3. Bully boy --Bazza's true legacy, summed up not even by one word but by one symbol.
    The ears in the walls report that the RB were indeed considering a post-retirement title for him until one wag suggested it might be Archbishop DEmeritus.