Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Interesting statistics...

...in discussions re the Ordinariate.

Apparently in gathering figures for official records, a "large" congregation in an Anglican church is deemed to be one of 55 or over. Can this really be true?

Obviously, for reasons of history, Catholic parishes cover in Britain cover far wider territories than do Anglican ones, so a congregation in any given church is likely to be larger. But even so...most Catholic parishes that consider themselves to be fairly small still count people in hundreds, and I know of several suburban parishes that are in four figures,and some of more than 2,000.

While on the subject of church attendance: I was informed by a Catholic writer back in the 1980s that there would be no one at Mass at all in England and Wales by the start of the 21st century, based on his projections. I think of this from time to time. How wrong he was. About a third of the people at a Sunday evening Mass in our parish were hardly born when he made that prediction: but there they are, kneeling and praying. His prediction was made with a sort of gloating ooh-isn't-it-dreadful approach which at the time seemed to me very impressive and knowledgeable and grown-up. But when I came acros it in some old papers I was sorting a few months ago, it just looked cross and sour - and, of course, wrong.

So making predictions is dangerous. But here's one anyway, as a hostage to fortune. I believe that the Anglican Ordinariate parishes being etablished in Britain over the next year and a half will survive and thrive. They will not grow dramatically at first, but will flourish quietly and significantly. Revisit this prediction with me in five years' time and let' see.


David said...

There are exceptions (mainly 'evangelical') but most Anglican parishes are doing well to have 100 at the main service on Sunday and many struggle along with between 20 and 50. My Catholic parish has a 'Mass Count' of over 1400 and ONE priest. It covers most of five Anglican parishes, each with a priest. Even at one service per church per Sunday, any two of those five churches could easily accommodate all the worshippers - and they are all basically 'high church'. In industry 'rationalisation' would have happened years ago. It shows no sign of happening now - and if it did, would there be a church building for any fledgling Ordinariate group? I doubt it!

Mike said...

There is a difference between a “parish” and a “congregation”. The Catholic Directory for Scotland gives figures for estimated Catholic population for each parish and the number who attended Mass on a particular Sunday. There is usually a considerable difference between the two figures. The lowest Mass attendance figure for any church in Glasgow is 109 and ten are over 1,000 but these figures add up the total number at probably at least three Masses. On the other hand, Anglicans, (I think) tend to have only the one service on a Sunday morning. (Incidentally, one church in the Diocese of Paisley has a total attendance of over 4,000!)

Malcolm said...

He forgot two things. Firstly, events move on. The Communist bloc collapsed and there was an economic boom in Britain. The British lower class wasn't equipped to take the jobs generated, and the solution the government chose was to allow mass immigration from Poland. None of that could reasonably have been predicted in the 1980s.

The second thing he forgot is that trends, whether booms or declines, also change the society they affect. In the case of Catholics the people who are left are a different type of people to those who remain, so ultimately you have a church that functions differently and behaves differently.

A Catholic Priest said...

The total number of Anglicans attending church each week in England & Wales is about the same as the number of Catholics attending Sunday Mass.

In the English diocese where I am a parish priest, there are approximately 4 times as many Anglican parishes as there are Catholic parishes.

So the average Anglican parish in this area is likely to have roughly a quarter of the attendance of an average Catholic parish. In the country areas of this diocese, the Catholic parishes cover a very large area but usually have a small congrgation - between 100 and 300.

In their diocesan yearbooks, the Anglican parishes list their Electoral Rolls - ie the number of active Anglicans that are attached to that particular parish. These range in this area from about 500 to 16.

There are two Anglican parishes whose boundaries approximate to my parish (which is in an urban area). The electoral roll is 291 in one and 80 in the other - making a total of 371. The Sunday mass attendance in my parish is usally just over 400.

Anonymous said...

It depends where the church is - there might be five or six Anglican churches in an area served by one Catholic church, and some of them might not have weekly worship, especially in country areas
It's also necessary to differentiate between attendance and electoral roll - there might be only 50 + people in each of four churches that take turns with monthly worship (not necessarily the same 50+) and over 300 on the electoral roll. For a real figure, you'd need to ask about Home Communions and house groups, as well as church attendance

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of talk these day about Christianity dying out. The desire to know our creator and worship is in us it is not a fad.
Being state side there was a lot of information about what happened in the Twin Towers when they were hit. It was said people of all types were crying out to God for help and rescue.
It is said as long as there are Algebra tests there will be prayer in school.