Christmas attendance at ten year high
Attendance at Christmas services in Hereford Diocese is at its highest level for more than a decade, according to new figures published this week.
The latest annual Statistics for Mission report shows that while traditional Sunday attendance edged lower in 2017, in line with long-term trends, the numbers attending Christmas services increased by 2,500.
The highest figure since 2011 this is combined with figures for special services in churches during Advent, including carol services, there were nearly 72,000 attendances over the festive season.
The figures for 2017 show that average Sunday attendance in Hereford Diocese (measured during October 2017) stood at 6,800, just down on the previous year in line with long-term trends. Average weekly attendance over October 2017 stood at 8,200.
However, the ‘Worshipping Community’ – a measure of those people who regularly attend church rose slightly in 2017 to 13,400, of whom 17% were aged under 18 years old.
The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith said: “We are encouraged by the numbers of people that are coming to church across the week and not just on Sundays.
“This reflects the range of services and events that we are beginning to see at different times and locations across the diocese, all aimed at helping us to grow and inspire each generation.
“It also shows the investment by our churches in reaching children and families through our schools work, such as Open the Book, and new worshipping communities like Messy Church for young children and their carers.”
Across England more than 33,000 social action projects - from food banks to debt counselling - are run or supported by churches, according to figures setting out for the first time the full scale of the Church of England’s service to communities.
The findings – which amount to the largest survey to date of the extent of the Church of England’s work with some of the most vulnerable in society – show that 80 per cent of congregations are involved in one or more forms of social action.
In Hereford Diocese, a network of food banks and community larders provide bags of food to those in urgent need. There are foodbanks at Hereford, Ross-on-Wye, Leominster, Ledbury, Bromyard, Kington, Hay-on-Wye, Tenbury Wells, Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Clun Forest and Telford.
Many church community members also volunteer at food banks and church buildings act as donation collection points.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “From food banks to debt counselling and lunch clubs to language classes, these figures spell out for the first time the sheer scale and range of our churches’ commitment to their communities.
“We are doing more to love and help people in need than at any time since 1945.
“We don’t just do this to be ‘nice’ but because our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to act.”
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