Christianity in the UK

The Daily Telegraph has more on the changing face of Christianity in the UK. It’s a very objective, newsy article telling us that the African charismatic churches are growing very quickly while Anglicanism, Methodism and the Baptist churches are all in rapid decline. Catholicism is growing more gradually, but this (like the Pentecostal growth) is due to immigrant populations. Eastern Europeans swell the numbers of Catholics in Britain, and predictions are that this growth is only a blip in what will also be a continued decline in the practice of Catholicism.

Meanwhile this article comments on the large number of Anglican bishops. There are nearly twice as many bishops now than in 1900, but there are only 9000 clergy compared to 24,000 in 1900. The bishops are expensive and they are blamed for making the church top heavy and overly bureaucratic, of course the secular journalists can never resist adding phrases like, “the senior bishops…many of whom live in historic palaces and castles…”

It all tends to make for gloomy reading, but one shouldn’t underestimate the Holy Spirit. In times in the past the church in Europe seemed to be in terrible decline. Sometimes through corruption and decay from within, other times through persecution and attack from without, but then some sort of revival and renewal comes. It may be the Wesleyan preaching or the counter reformation, or Vatican 2, or the ‘reform of the reform’–God does not forsake his church.

  • Anonymous

    That is so, so true. But unfortunately for us, reforms always seem to come from within and from some unexpected quarter. You can’t do focus groups or form committees to devise them, they come when they come, and they take everyone by surprise.My husband always says that we would be just as upset as Clare’s parents if our daughter went off to follow some modern-day St. Francis. “You’re leaving everything and everyone to follow that crazy beggar guy and be poor and barefoot? I don’t think so!”But of course, that’s not what will happen. It will be something new, something that is needed in our time and our culture, and will come out of someone no one will ever expect. I wonder what it will be?Gail Finke

  • kkollwitz

    I seem to remember that when things were getting tough for Batista in Cuba, he promoted everyone in the army one rank as an encouragement, so that there were no longer any privates. Maybe the thing to do in this case is just make all the priests bishops…it might be easier than deciding whose ox gets gored.

  • Joseph Fromm

    Dear Fr. Dwight,As a proud Pole, 3 -third generation Americian. The Polish Catholic Spirit, does not die! It grows in intesity.JMJJoe

  • William

    As an English Catholic I have read this story with a pinch of salt. I believe that the Catholic Church, in terms of ‘bums on seats’ has been larger than the Anglicans for some time. I think that the last three such surveys had the numbers massaged by the Anglicans. I don’t see any lively Anglican communities where I live but the Catholic churches are very alive.I think that the explanation of the Catholics growing larger “but only because of the foreign Immigrants” is so much sour grapes. Again, where I live in south east London we have large numbers of east europeans living among us but we get so very few through the door of our church. It is similiar with all the local RC churches. We just don’t see the Poles and the Czechs and the Lithuanians. Whuch means we are growing by our own efforts, thank you very much.William