Breaking news: Britain’s church is dead

churchI am sad to report that the Church of England is passing away, at least according to this article in the Daily Telegraph I stumbled upon yesterday.

As I continue to unscientifically poll the British newspapers while riding the London Underground, I have discovered that my initial findings — that there is an “absence of religion coverage” — was not quite accurate, as many of you have pointed out. The papers do cover religion, but not in a way that would make anyone jump for joy at the thought of attending a church service.

A reader of ours, Lee, alerted us to the doomsday Telegraph story that finds the Anglican church past the point of bankruptcy:

Britain’s Churches are in such serious decline that if they were shops, they would have been declared bankrupt long ago, Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said last night.

In a bleak assessment of the future of Christianity in this country, he said that the Churches were approaching meltdown and the “last rites” could be administered at any moment.

In a lecture in a Buckinghamshire church, Dr Carey expressed his exasperation that his efforts to revive the Church of England in the 1990s had been frustrated by lack of support from the clergy.

He delivered a warning to his successor, Dr Rowan Williams, that his initiatives could meet a similar fate.

“Last rites,” “bankrupt,” “meltdown,” “despair,” “plunging congregations,” “club of the elderly” are all quite depressing words for describing Anglican churches.

I guess this story could be reporting the true condition of the Church of England. I am not the expert. The rest of the article deals with the political repercussions of Dr. Carey’s assessment. But there is room for a positive thought at the end of the article:

However, Dr Carey said there was also good news. He cited the 2001 census, in which 72 per cent of the population described themselves as Christian, and said that there was still a “deep allegiance” between nation and Church.

He said the Church had to ["]focus on mission from top to bottom” or it would become “an irrelevancy in the nation and a club for the old, the resigned and those tired of life.”

I don’t know about Dr. Carey’s prediction, but I can personally report that in attending St Helen’s Church in London Sunday evening, I found a packed house of mostly students and young professionals with nary a chair to spare and a Wednesday evening Bible study attended by a similar audience flowing with lively discussion of the Bible.

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  • http://blogs.salon.com/0003494/ Bartholomew

    I wonder if Carey mentioned Steve Bruce at all – great sociologist, author of “God is Dead” (2002).

    While you’re in London, you might perhaps like to check out “Kingsway International Christian Centre” over in Hackney – allegedly the UK’s largest church. Just last week it was in all the newspapers – the minister, Matthew Ashimolowo, has a somewhat generous renumeration which has brought criticism and a bit of discussion about the “Prosperity Gospel”.

  • http://www.dailycontentions.com Lucas Sayre

    The stats I’ve seen show Anglican church membership in decline, Roman Catholics holding steady or in a gradual decline, and Muslims in a healthy increase.

    I wonder if number of people who go to any church is going up or down… My guess is down.

  • Stephen A.

    Bear in mind it wasn’t an ignorant reporter saying the church was dying or dead, it was the former Archbishop.

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