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Tax-efficient giving breaks the £6 barrier

The latest parochial statistics, for the calendar year 1998, show the same general trends seen over recent years. Tax-efficient giving increased by 7% on average, breaking through the £6 barrier for the first time at £6.37; more than half (54%) of direct giving (planned giving and collections) was in tax-efficient covenants; total adult usual Sunday attendance decreased by 1.5%; and electoral rolls increased by 1.7%; the number of baptisms of teenagers and adults rose by 2.8%, while the number of baptisms of children and infants decreased by 6%. The number of pupils in Church of England schools rose from 904,048 in 1997 to 940,574, last year.

These statistics, says the foreword to Church Statistics 1998, 'do not adequately reflect the whole ministry of the Church'. Since 1998, the Statistics Review Group, chaired by the Bishop of Wakefield, has been engaged in the process of evaluating the various statistics used to describe participation in the life of the Church.

The report of that group, Statistics: a tool for mission, recommends replacing the current usual Sunday attendance statistic, as the prime standard, with measures of average weekly attendance and maximum and minimum Sunday and weekly attendance. Collected over four weeks each October, these would include all those involved in worship on any day, whether in the church itself, in Sunday Schools or equivalent activities, as well as those to whom Communion is taken outside the church. Usual Sunday attendance would continue to be collected for the sake of statistical continuity.

"To further its mission, the Church needs to collect, or have access to, reliable and comprehensive information about its structures, those who attend its churches, and the community it seeks to serve," said the Bishop of Wakefield in the report of his review. The recommendations if approved by General Synod will begin to be implemented with the collection of 2000 data.

The next edition of Statistics of Licensed Ministers, to be published later this summer, will provide a comprehensive description of the Church's ministry as at 31 December 1999. This will show an increase, for the sixth year in succession, in the number of people recommended for training to the stipendiary and non-stipendiary ministry. From a figure of 348 in 1993, numbers have risen progressively to 484 in 1999: stipendiary, 212 men and 141 women, non- stipendiary, 58 men and 73 women. Recommendations for training to the ordained local ministry, clergy who will devote their ministry to the parish in which they train, dropped from 104 in 1998 to 64 (40 men and 24 women) in 1999.

Meanwhile, ordinations of new deacons this Petertide (St Peter's Day is June 29) have shown a further increase on recent years. Across the country, 303 stipendiary ministers and 136 non- stipendiary ministers will be ordained deacon; a total of 439. At the same time last year, 396 new deacons were ordained, compared with 310 in 1997.

Church Statistics 1998 (£1.90) and Statistics: a tool for mission (£2.50) are published by Church House Publishing and are available from Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BN, tel 020-7898 1300, fax 020-7898 1305.