The Church of England has released its annual statistics for 2011 (the most recent figures available) which reveal a growing trend for Christmas attendance, an increase in baptisms and stability in weekly service attendance.
Nationally, Christmas 2011 drew 14.5% more worshippers to Church of England services than attended in 2010, reaching a total of 2,618,030. Of those, the number taking Communion increased by 13.2% to 1,008,454.
In the Diocese of Guildford, an encouraging number of our 163 parishes saw a growth of 20% or more in their 2011 weekly attendance figures compared to 2010. Figures across the diocese reveal wide fluctuations, with diocesan weekly attendance growing overall by one per cent, from 27,800 in 2010 to 28,100 in 2011. Nationally, weekly attendance fell by 0.3 per cent.
Welcoming the news, The Bishop of Dorking, the Rt Revd Ian Brackley, said: â€œThese figures are a welcome reminder of the work and service undertaken by the Church of England annually. 1,000 couples married, 2,600 baptisms celebrated and over 3,000 funerals conducted every week of the year.
â€œThe attendance figures are heartening, especially the very strong growth in Christmas attendance and the encouraging news of further growth even on these figures in 2012. Also welcome is the increasing numbers of those who attend church services on a weekly basis and the growth of the numbers of children and young people attending nationally.
â€œIt is my hope that these national statistics reflect an end to the narrative of decline in church attendance with many dioceses â€“ including our own - showing growth in the numbers of those both coming to faith and coming to Church.â€
The real meaning of Christmas
Over 92,000 people attended Christmas services across the diocese in 2011 â€“ an increase of 11 per cent on 2010. Poor weather in 2010 may explain some of the increase, but initial figures for Christmas 2012 suggest a growing trend for church going at Christmas.
2011 in the diocese also saw a two per cent increase in Easter attendance (37,500) and a ten per cent increase in Baptisms (3,180) as well as a two per cent growth in the number of children and young people attending church each week (6,600). Nationally there was a 1.2% increase in children and young people attending to 216,928.