Holy relic: what will be left of the Church of England after the pandemic?

Feb 4, 2021 by

by Emma Thompson, Spectator:

A clergyman admitted to me that he’d recently burst into tears. He’d received an email from his diocese in this latest lockdown ‘strongly urging’ vicars to close their churches. He has an elderly working-class congregation in a poor area. Coming to church was ‘the one thing keeping them going’. Local vicars like him represent the best of the Church of England. They are loving, kind, and they know their flock.

Before the pandemic, the C of E had seen attendance halve in a generation. Weekly religious attendance is highest among non-Christian faiths (40 per cent), followed by Roman Catholics (23 per cent) and all other Christian denominations (23 per cent). Anglicans are much less likely to attend weekly (9 per cent), or at all — 57 per cent say they go to church ‘never or practically never’.

Yet that gap between the number identifying as C of E and actual attendance presents an opportunity. It shows an untapped interest in preserving our national church. When Covid struck, and those people turned to their churches for spiritual consolation, what did they find? Closed doors. The Anglican church should have been at the forefront of the pandemic response. But the leadership’s reaction has been supine and the C of E now faces an existential crisis.

Read here (£)

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