Anglican Church of Canada attendance dropped faster during the pandemic, but parishes are adapting

Posted Aug 4, 2023

[Anglican Journal (Anglican Church of Canada)] Data for 2021 confirm attendance in the Anglican Church of Canada declined by about 10 per cent that year, after a similar drop in 2020, the church’s statistics officer says, while preliminary findings from 2022 suggest it continued in a steep decline into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, statistics officer Canon Neil Elliot released a report that described a downward trend of 2.5 per cent per year—a rate that would see the church’s membership depleted entirely by 2040 if it continued. An update with data from 2020 showed the downward trend had accelerated to about 10 per cent that year, with data that was preliminary at the time suggesting a similar rate of decline for 2021. The latest numbers confirm the latter, Elliot says.

The reduction in attendance doesn’t tell the whole story, however, he adds. For one thing, Elliot says, his findings suggest the number of identifiable donors across the church has been falling more slowly than the number of people in attendance. So while there are fewer people in the pews, he says, those who were already attending seriously enough to financially support their parish seem to be more likely to stay. That’s a softer blow for the church’s financial situation, at least. 

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