Bishop of Warrington encouraged by continued growth in our diocese

Bishop Richard hails attendance figures which show a 4.9% growth as "extremely encouraging".

The Bishop of Warrington, The Rt Revd Richard Blackburn has hailed the latest set of attendance statistics as “extremely encouraging”. The 2011 official figures published by the statistics department of the Church of England show a 4.9% growth in the average numbers attending a weekly service. The figures confirm our announcement last year that we are a growing diocese.

Bishop Richard said “these extremely encouraging figure show sustained growth over the last couple of years. Increased numbers coming into our churches week in week out show an increased importance of the church in many people's lives.”

The figures also show a 2.3% rise in those attending church on an average Sunday and a 1.7% increase on usual Sunday attendance. They also reveal that nearly 39,000 attended a Christmas Day service in 2011 with attendance on Easter Day being just short of 31,000 people.

National figures also showed a 7.5% rise in child baptisms across the country with adult baptisms rising by 5.1%.

Bishop Richard said “Our experience is of growing numbers coming for the big celebratory services at Christmas and Easter. Also I am delighted that the baptism figures clearly show that large numbers of people still come to church for the celebrations in their lives”

The figures for the Diocese of Liverpool come as a result of increased efforts to connect with communities and grow our churches following a challenge from the Bishop of Liverpool. In what has come to be known as the Growth Agenda churches have responded to a need reconnect with their communities.

Churches across our diocese have done this in a variety of ways – from doing traditional church well to developing new forms of church that happen at across the week in a range of places appealing to different groups of people. Our churches have been strong supporters of the national Back to Church Sunday campaign. We hold café style church, have developed the Child Friendly Church award to encourage family worship and are pioneering forms of church that connect with people of all ages, backgrounds and interests.

Bishop Richard added “the figures show the relevance and importance of church in today’s society. Our challenge is to continue to find ways to continue to attract people to worship. I want church to accessible to today’s generations while remaining authentic to the Bible and the traditions which have sustained us over the centuries”.

The church is also at the forefront of social justice with many involved in establishing Foodbanks, Debt Counselling Services and outreach projects that are meeting the real need in their communities.

Bishop Richard said “the figures show the continued relevance of the church today. My prayer is that as we continue to connect with our communities more people see the importance of God and the church”.

Liverpool statistics at a glance 2011

Average Weekly Attendance 28,600 + 4.9%  
Average Sunday Attendance 22,900 +2.3%  
Usual Sunday Attendance     19,200

Christmas Day Attendance   38,700
Easter Day Attendance         30,800