Fall in church attendances

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CHURCH attendances in the Sheffield Anglican diocese have dropped slightly, according to the latest figures.

Sunday attendances were down 2% to an average of 15,900 between 2009 and 2010 and, over the week, there was a 3% fall to 21,000.

However, the bare figures from the Church of England mask a more complex picture, said a Sheffield diocesan spokesman, “Patterns in church attendance are changing. Many churches have a higher overall attendance even though figures on particular Sundays may be lower.”

Early reports about Christmas 2011 suggest that many churches in the diocese, including Sheffield Cathedral, saw significant increases in numbers attending services.

The Sheffield diocese extends across South Yorkshire and as far as Goole, and its Bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, is leading a strategy to encourage the growth of churches.

National figures indicate a 2% drop in Sunday attendances, but the number of church weddings rose for the first time in several years, by 4%, which is thought to reflect attempts by the CoE to make it easier to have a traditional wedding in church.