Church of England attendance down 5th year

Jan. 22, 2010 at 9:10 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Weekly attendance at Church of England services has fallen for the fifth straight year despite initiatives meant to to fill the pews, church officials say.

Average weekly attendance fell from 1.16 million in 2007 to 1.145 million in 2008. The average Sunday attendance fell from 978,000 in 2007 to 960,000 in 2008, The Guardian reported Friday.

Fewer people attended church during Christmas and Easter in 2008. But the number of people under 16 attending weekly service rose from 219,000 in 2007 to 225,000 in 2008.

The Rev. Lynda Barley, head of research and statistics for the Church of England, said the statistics "paint a mixed picture for 2008."

"Alongside some encouraging signs, such as the number of under-16s in church increasing and growth in church attendance in 14 out of 44 dioceses, are some disappointments, with further small declines in traditional attendance measures," Barley said.

The church has begun efforts to boost attendance such as a program allowing children to be baptized at the same time as their parents' marriage. The church's "Back to Church Sunday" recruitment drive has expanded to the airwaves with a new radio ad campaign.

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