Why Anglo-Catholicism appeals to millennials

Feb 8, 2019 by

by Marcus Walker, Catholic Herald:

“Twentysomethings are flocking to Anglo-Catholic services” shouted a headline in the Times above an article featuring my church, St Bartholomew the Great, in the City of London. As so often with headlines, the drama of the moment trumps the evidence of the article and accusations of hyperbole haunt the actual good news in the story that follows.

But good news there is, however you define the word “flocking”. With two per cent of those under 25 in Britain calling themselves Anglican, almost any number of Anglo-Catholic millennials looks positive when contrasted with the regular turnout in Church of England churches; even a handful would honestly count as “flocking”.

But over the last year we have seen a notable uptick in the number of millennials (and, indeed, post-millennials, if we’re going to be strict about definitions) both to our High Mass on Sunday mornings and to Evensong on Sunday evenings.

My congregation is not alone. The Times article explored similar trends exemplified by Westcott House, an Anglican seminary, and the Prayer Book Society, which has recently seen a 40 per cent rise in its more youthful membership. What do these young people say draws them to institutions lazily dismissed as liturgical extremes? Beautiful language, symphonious music and an aesthetic experience that transcends normal life.

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