Statistics from the Church of England reveal that the average weekly giving by parishioners in 2005 increased to £5.08, and more clergy are being trained and ordained now compared with 10 years ago.
According to Church Statistics 2005/6, which this year is only available on the web, direct giving to parish churches averaged £5.08 per electoral roll member per week and tax-efficient giving increased to an average of £8.26 per subscriber per week. The number of parishioners subscribing to tax-efficient regular giving through Gift Aid rose to a further record of 523,200.
“Achieving £5 a week was quite a milestone and the latest figures show a further increase of 4% in total tax-efficient giving,” said John Preston, the Church’s National Stewardship and Resources Officer.
“Church members continue to give generously to charitable causes compared with the population at large. Average giving to the church is around 3% of average incomes, still somewhere short of the 5% of disposable income recommended by the General Synod since 1978.
“The 5% aim was based on the Christian tradition of tithing or giving away 10% of income and the recommendation was to give half of that to the Church in thanks for God's gifts and half to other charitable works.”
The total income of Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) in 2005, the figures show, rose to £792 million. Total expenditure rose to £779 million, of which more than £50 million was devoted to charitable giving by the PCCs to other charities and mission organisations, 8% of their recurring expenditure of £568 million.
The statistics also show increases in the number of clergy being trained and numbers being ordained. The Church recommended 594 future clergy for ordination training in 2005, the greatest number for more than a decade and maintaining the upward trend since the mid-90s. In 1994, 408 candidates were recommended for training.
The Church ordained 478 new clergy in 2006, a drop on the 505 ordained in 2005, the highest number since 2002, but more than the 469 in 2004.
Overall, more women (244) than men (234) were ordained in 2006, though the majority of these were ordained to non-stipendiary ministry. Of those ordained to full-time stipendiary ministry, 128 were men and 95 were women.
At the end of 2006, there were 20,354 ministers licensed by Church of England dioceses, including clergy, readers and Church Army officers: one minister for every 2,500 people in England.
“The nation continues to enjoy the spiritual ministry of an increasing variety of Church of England ministers, many of whom contribute to the health of their local community in a voluntary capacity,” observed Revd Lynda Barley, Head of Research and Statistics.
The total does not include some 1,600 chaplains to prisons, hospitals, the armed forces and in education, nor around 6,600 retired ministers with permission to officiate.
Attendance figures for 2005 were provisionally issued in January and have not changed. Regular Sunday attendance fell by 2%, while weekly and monthly attendance fell by 1% or less. This follows two years in which the numbers increased or held steady.
Meanwhile, Christmas Eve/Christmas Day attendance increased by 6%, the number of children and young people attending at least monthly increased by 1% and more than half the parishes reported running or planning a ‘fresh expression of church’.
The new statistics confirm that around 1.7 million people attend Church of England church and cathedral worship each month, while around 1.2 million attend services each week – on Sunday or during the week - and just under one million each Sunday.