How Covid 19 impacted attendance at Church of England in 2019/2020

Over the years, a steady decline in church attendance at the Church of England, attributed to older worshippers dying-off and not being replaced by younger worshippers and people raising their children outside the institutions of religion has been observed.

The situation worsened with the Covid-19 pandemic which started late 2019, resulting in massive lockdowns and restrictions to movement of people including participation in public activities all over the world.

Statistics from the Church of England’s website christened: The Statistics for Mission 2020 Report at https://www.churchofengland.org/researchandstats which x-rays trends in church activities between 2019 and 2020 indicates that all indices for measurement for church attendance and participation dropped between 2019 and 2020. Activities reviewed include Electoral Roll, Worshipping Communities, Weekly & Sunday Activities, Christmas Attendance, Advent, Baptism, Thanksgiving, Marriages and Funeral Services.

Commenting on the trend, Vivian Adagha, a resident of Brixton, Southwest London says: “Even before Covid 19, there has been a steady drop in church attendance. The pandemic only accelerated it. On Sundays, most people are either at home watching TV or in the parks walking their dogs or just basking in the sun.”

According to the latest statistics, between 2019 and 2020, London, with a population density of approximately 16,000 had the highest population of members at 5 million worshipers which accounts for 8% of the Church of England population.

It revealed that the worshiping community had over 87 thousand participants in 2019 while in 2020, the worshiping community was slightly above 82 thousand participants representing a 4 percent drop.

The bar chart above further illustrates the decline in all listed activities from 2019 to 2020. The blue bar represents 2019 figures while the orange bar represents 2020 figures.

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However, there was a marginal increase of 100 for electoral role. Also, from 2019 to 2020, there was a decrease for adult weekly attendance from 57 thousand to 25 thousand representing a 45 percent decrease.

The adult Sunday attendance decreased by 47 percent from 44 thousand to a 20 thousand participants. Similarly, children attendance decreased by 35 percent for weekly and Sunday attendance in 2019 and 2020. Weekly attendance decreased from 10 thousand to 3 thousand while Sunday attendance decreased from 10 thousand to 4 thousand Participants.

Commenting on the development, Nick Edmonds, a PR expert for Church of England said: “The covid 19 pandemic greatly impacted the church as it had everything to do with the lockdown. However, ever since the lockdown restrictions were lifted, there has been a surge in church attendance. However at this time we cannot give you figures. We have to wait for the next cycle.”

What is the church doing to attract millennials to its fold? “We are taking the church to schools and homes. Currently we have programs lined up to attract millennials and we are currently working with 4,700 schools so we have structures in place to encourage participation of millennials.”

However, African churches are packed full back-to-back on Sundays even as the Church of England attendance has declined over the years. Commenting on what could be responsible for this, Pastor Naomi Tolulope Daniels, Co-Pastor at Day Spring Hub Church located in London says the development is as a result of the culture African immigrants bring with them to the UK because religion is very important for Africans.

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She says: “You have to believe in something. In Africa we run to religion for succor. Most of us grew up in communities where every Sunday you had to go to church. When we come the UK, we bring this orientation with us because we believe we have to be connected to God to get things done.

“Again, churches are also networking platforms for Africans. It is only the people that we see around that we call family. The only family the black man has is the church, so he place a high premium on church activities.”

Commenting on why church attendance continues to plumet at the Church of England, she continues: “The church is not following the trend of this day. There is nothing millennials can relate with regarding the way they perceive God hence they don’t have a sense of belonging. It is the age of social media, and they want to connect on Instagram tik Tok and the church is not there.”

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