12 August 2013
Growing decade for cathedral congregations, show latest
The number of worshippers at Church of England cathedrals
increased in 2012, continuing the growing trend seen since the
Millennium. Total weekly attendance at the 43* cathedrals grew to
35,800, according to Cathedral Statistics 2012, an
increase of 35% since 2002.
Along with occasional and special services, the regular
worshipping life of cathedrals has proved more popular than ever
over the past decade with cathedrals pointing to stronger community
links attracting more people (see case studies below).
Easter 2012 saw the highest attendance in the last decade, at
54,700. Attendance at midweek services has grown most, from 8,900
in 2002 to 16,800, while Sunday attendance has grown from 17,500 to
The numbers of children and young people attending educational
events is the highest for 10 years (306,800 in 2012 compared to
265,100 in 2002).
The number of volunteers serving cathedrals continued to rise,
reaching 15,570, 30% up on the 11,930 in 2002. Between them, they
fulfil a range of 860 voluntary roles across the country.
Other regular services, run at least once a month, attracted a
further 1,639,300 worshippers. Around one million attended more
than 5000 public/civil events in the cathedrals, down from a peak
in 2010 but still nearly twice as many as in 2002. 2,900 specially
arranged services, such as annual festivals and school leavers'
services attracted a further 930,000.
Dr Bev Botting, Head of Research and Statistics for the
Archbishops' Council said: "Cathedrals continue to flourish as
worshipping communities while offering a valuable insight into our
nation's heritage. The statistics show people of all ages are
increasingly drawn to cathedrals for worship, to attend educational
and civic events, and to volunteer to ensure our cathedrals are
open to all those who are drawn to visit and worship in these
Liverpool is UK's largest Cathedral and is filled
to capacity a number of times a year. Alongside the 400,000
tourists and visitors that come every year, nearly 100,000 attended
at least one service in 2012 with Christmas being the busiest time.
Carol services are held almost every evening December building up
to nearly 2,500 people attending midnight and Christmas morning
celebrations. The cathedral has also seen increasing numbers for
the Blessing of the crib/lighting the tree and Holly Bough
Easter is another busy time and this year saw between 250 and 200
people attend the first ever Cathedral Passion Play performed in
Holy Week. A production conceived and produced by cathedral staff
and volunteers became a popular and powerful local drama.
The Cathedral also pioneers new ways to reach different
communities. The Zone2 café style service has grown from one in the
morning to include an afternoon option. Zone2 is also being offered
and developed in local parishes. The team behind it attracted more
than 200 people to a special youth service - Night of the Living
Dead - engaging culture with church in a creative way.
Education visits at the cathedral attracted nearly 10,000 students
with a hugely popular 'Holiday Drop In' every Monday &
Wednesday during the school holidays offering a range of activities
including arts, crafts, and storytelling. The Pet Service
takes place annually and is always well attended.
The focus in recent years has been to present the Cathedral as a
community resource making the building a welcoming place for all.
Last year more than 700 people attended the opening night of the
Olympics which was shown on a big screen.
The Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair attracted 6000
people over two days and the Flower Festival 20,000 over four days.
There is also a week long business exhibition in the Cathedral (A
Celebration of Business) attracting thousands of people and more
than 150 local businesses as exhibitors. A spokeswoman for the
cathedral said: "These are not just fund raising/money making
events. They help bring people into the building, often for the
first time, and once they have experienced the Cathedral they may
return for a Service or wish to discover more. I think lay events
such as these have helped increase overall attendance at our
services and other liturgical events in the Cathedral."
Truro Cathedral, in line with many other cathedrals, has seen an
increase in numbers attending services, particularly at
Christmas and Easter. This has been welcomed by the Dean
of Truro, the Very Revd Roger Bush, who said, "It is very
gratifying to see how well we are maintaining our congregations,
especially in the context of overall falling church attendance
figures. We are particularly pleased to see a younger profile of
visitor attend a number of family events including a Cushion
Concert with the Choristers, several Free Family Fun Days and of
course the success of our ice skating rink during the winter." He
identified this engagement with a younger profile as critical to
the cathedral's aim of opening up its spaces and facilities to the
wider community. He said, "We want to take a positive step out into
the community we serve. We want to engage with people across the
spectrum and by that engagement bring them into a closer
relationship with God. We need to be more outward facing and less
The Dean also pointed to the cathedral's ongoing 'Inspire
Cornwall' project as a key instigator in shaping this new
vision. He said, "Once we have completed the refurbishment of the
Old Cathedral School, it will open as a community music and arts
centre, inspiring and developing young people's skills and talents
in the creative sector."
*There are 43 cathedrals in the Church of England, 44
including the Cathedral Church of Holy Trinity, Gibraltar in the
Diocese in Europe