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Anglican Growth and Decline

St Matthew

A lot of people online have been discussing the recent study Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion: 1980 to the Present (Routledge Contemporary Ecclesiology). There have been discussions of Church of England dioceses. And the Facing of the Episcopal Church Decline.

In some sense, then, this post is a contribution to that ongoing discussion, and adding to the growing information available.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia keeps no church-wide statistics. We have no idea how many people are in Anglican Churches on Sunday, how many baptisms we have, or weddings, or funerals. And it is ironic that probably the best statistics available about our clergy are held by the Church’s Pension Board (Good on them!). We are regularly reassured that even if no more clergy join the Church’s pension scheme that those of us currently in it will still be able to have our expected retirement income.

Individual dioceses do keep some sort of statistics. What each diocese keeps may vary from diocese to diocese, and from year to year. A couple of years ago, I looked back over 25 years in my own diocese. Recently, the latest diocesan statistics arrived, and they are worth comparing with the statistics of that past blog post.

Receiving Communion at Christmas

In 25 years, numbers of people receiving communion at Christmas had halved from 19,784 to 10,542 (or in percentage of population terms, it dropped 60%). In the last three years, that has further dropped to 7,762 – a drop of 26% in three years.

Total Church Attendance

This is one of the statistics open to too much subterfuge. Even so, it had dropped about 40% in about 20 years (say about halved in relation to population. Previous to this time, the counting was done differently). In the last three years, that has dropped further from 356,290 to 316,098 – another drop of 11%.

Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals

In 25 years, baptisms had dropped from 937 to 234 (down 75% – or 81% relative to population). In the last three years they have dropped further to 162, a further drop of 31% in three years.

Weddings dropped from 614 to 201 in 25 years (67% – or 75% relative to population) and in the last three years they have dropped further to 179 – a further drop of 11% in three years.

In 25 years, funerals had dropped from 1,149 to 378 (67% – or 75% relative to population), and in the last three years they have dropped further to 304 – a further drop of 20% in three years.

If you want to look at earlier reflections, including some of what I think are the causes, and what might be part of discussions towards solutions, go to:
End of the Anglican Church?
End of the Anglican Church (part 2)?
End of the Anglican Church (part 3)?

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1 thought on “Anglican Growth and Decline”

  1. Those statistics are disheartening and quite serious.

    More to pray about, certainly. What does God want of me/us in this changing landscape? (And, that is NOT a rhetorical question. Please, Lord, let me know.)

    Thanks for the news, Bosco. I would not have known unless you told me.

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