Check out this link to Quadrant, the most recent Christian Research publication which you can get at through the web. Still no sign of 'Religious Trends 7' anywhere (correction: see update below), but the Quadrant stuff directly contradicts what was reported by the Times yesterday (see links below).
Quadrant reports some of the data from the new Religious Trends survey, and predicts 1,898,000 churchgoers in England in 2050, and 3m in the UK. The England figure alone is 1m higher than the 899,000 figure quoted by Ruth Gledhill for 'Britain' in the Times report. Christian Research's own publication contradicts the figures which were being quoted yesterday. So where did those figures come from? Did someone spill coffee over that '1' in the millions column?
The Quadrant article also notes that decline is slowing, an increasing proportion of churches are reporting growth, and that they are revising their projections upwards for church membership in the immediate future.
But: no complacency, the picture is still one of decline, and there's no reason for folk to pat themselves on the back and reassure themselves with the knowledge that the Titanic isn't sinking as fast as we thought.
Update, Friday Teatime: Dave Walker has managed to contact Benita Hewitt, who runs Christian Research, and records her comments on his Church Times blog.
The report itself is available through the Bible Society. Bet it sells well now!!!!
Ruth Gledhill has defended her interpretations of the report on her blog. I'm still struggling to see how the figures in Quadrant and the figures quoted from Religious Trends add up.
And later Ruth has put the relevant tables from Religious Trends in a blog post, and they tally completely with her reporting on Thursday. Sorry for doubting you Ruth. Fantastic tags on her post too: 'disaster, decline, plummeting church attendance'. So it's bad then.
Two questions still remain
1. What's the basis for these projections, as they seem over-pessimistic? As I said on Thursday, you can project London Diocese alone to have higher attendance in 2050 than the CR projections for the entire Church of England
2. Why is the Quadrant figure different? It has church membership standing at 5,734,000 in 2006, and 3,040,000 in 2050. This is membership rather than attendance, which is what the Times headlines were based on, and the membership figure for 2006 is about 60% higher than the attendance in the charts Ruth Gledhill has posted. If this were projected to 2050, I'd expect a church membership figure of 1,500,000 or so, to correspond to 890,000 attendance. But the projection is twice this. Will the average church member in 2050 only be going to church once every 3-4 weeks? Still not sure how this all adds up and I fear I may have to part with £30 if I want to find out!!!
normal blogging will resume at the weekend, after this weeks stats splurge, though I'll post next week with the percentage change figures for adult attendance in Dioceses 2001-6, in between stuff on cricket, church stalls at wedding fairs and the like.