Monday, May 29, 2006

More depressing statistics

According to The Unitarian (quoting The Interchange magazine of Southampton, May 2006, page 47) in the twentieth century Unitarian membership declined by 78.8% from an estimated 26,000 in 1900 (making a 5512 membership figure in 2000 by my calculations). This was the highest rate of decline of any denomination apart from the Congregationalists. The comparable figure for the Church of England was 51.4% decline.

I think we're about to see this decline translate into more churches closing. A number of churches have managed to remain open with fewer and fewer members but we're now at a stage when even the very few members requires to keep a church going in some state are dying off. As an entirely unscientific guess I would say that of the about 170 churches in Britain, half are going to close in the next 20 years.

I always like to shout about these kinds of statistics, not because I want to depress people, but because I think we need to realise the situation we're in. We need to realise that what we're doing is not working. Something is wrong. Something needs to change. There's no kidding ourselves about that. Continuing as we have been is not an option.


Blogger boyinthebands said...

For me, it boils down (emblematically) to the lack of a Unitarian church in Milton Keynes.

Here's what I want to know: what was the last Unitarian church founded? Any in the last ten years? What are the largest towns in the UK without a Unitarian congregation? Which population centers in the UK are the fastest growing? What funds can be routed to new church starts?

I look at the "scatter pattern" of Unitarian and Free Christian churches and wonder if anyone's gotten the word that the Five Mile Act is dead.

9:01 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

Further to my comments posted in the next topic Stephen discusses... I'd say Unitarianism suffers from the vicious circle of ageing congregations which with respect, do not have the energy or appeal to bring about new congregations or any significant expansion - and therefore with no influx of younger people, the communities slowly dies out...

4:12 pm  

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