Cathedral attendance up, says Church of England

May 5, 2011

Five days after one of Britain's great churches, London's Westminster
Abbey, was seen on television by millions as the site of a royal
wedding, the Church of England released statistics showing that weekly
attendance at its 43 cathedrals rose by 7 percent in 2010.

"Attendance
at services outside Sundays has grown more significantly by 10 percent
over the past year. Steady growth since the beginning of the millennium
is encouraging cathedrals to explore the unique position they hold in
the life of the nation and is restoring confidence in mission,"
commented Lynda Barley, head of research and statistics at the
Arch­bishops' Council, in a news release.

About 15,800 adults and
3,100 children and young people attend Sunday services at cathedrals,
while over the whole week the figures rise (by 73 percent) to 27,400 and
7,600 respectively. Westminster Abbey—which is not a cathedral, but a
"royal peculiar" under the direct supervision of the monarch—adds, on
average, 1,800 people each week to those numbers.

On April 29,
Queen Elizabeth II's grandson, Prince William, married Kate Middleton at
the abbey. Asked if he thought cathedrals might become even more
popular because of the royal nuptials, Simon Burton-Jones, archdeacon of
Rochester, said: "I think we're going to have to wait a year or so to
see just how the wedding impacted on people. Last week, at Westminster
Abbey, the Church of England was on display, and I think we put on a
pretty good show."

Cathedrals continue to have a "treasured place
in the heart of the nation" and are actively used at key moments in
individual lives and on public occasions, said Barley in an interview.

Lisa
Emanuel, a spokeswoman for Canterbury Cathedral, said that it's not
unusual to welcome more than 20 nationalities at services.

"We
love sharing this holy and very special place and are delighted with the
recent figures released by the Arch­bishops' Council. Apart from its
own daily services, Canterbury Cathedral hosts some 300 specially
arranged services on behalf of the diocese and other organizations," she
said.

Canterbury Cathedral, located in Kent, southeast England,
is considered the "mother church" of the estimated 80-million-member
worldwide Angli­can Com­munion, and it welcomes more than 1 million
visitors every year.
—ENInews