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After years of decline, sudden rise in churchgoers in UK, survey says



According to a survey, commissioned by the National Churches Trust from ComRes as many as 10 British adults visited a church, chapel or religious meeting house in the last 12 months.

Though it is still preliminary to say anything satisfactorily, the commission is the first to declare the rise in churchgoers in the last one year after years of decline.

The survey sees the confident, outward looking evangelistic strategies of Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Pope Francis in Rome as the possible reasons for the rise.

Adults in the North East of Engand were the most likely to visit a church or chapel, with 64 per cent saying they had done so. Those in Wales were the least likely, but even there nearly half, 45 per cent, had done so.

While overall in Britain the number who went to church or chapel was 57 per cent, well over half, just one in five of these said they went for a non-religious activity such as a playgroup, cultural event, meeting or lunch club.

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The 57 per cent is an increase of nine per cent on the year before.

Women are more likely to visit church services as compared to men.

More than 4 in 10 said a friendly welcome would be encouraging. Increased facilities like a café, comfortable seats and wi-fi for young adults seems to be a good approach in attracting people to churches.

Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, said: “This poll shows that there is overwhelming public support for church buildings, despite the decline in the numbers of people in Britain identifying themselves as Christian in recent years.The British public thinks that churches, chapels and meeting houses are an important part of the UK’s heritage and history and that they are also important for society as they provide a space in which community activities can take place, as well as worship.”

“Looking to the future, our poll shows how even more people could be encouraged to visit churches. That includes making sure that visitors receive a friendly welcome and providing better facilities such as toilets, a café or refreshment area. WiFi was seen as particularly important by young adults.”

However, she added: “It’s a fact of life that keeping church buildings open costs money, in most cases way beyond the means of congregations themselves.”

ComRes interviewed 2,038 adults online between December 16 and 17, 2015.