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Christmas cheer for the Church of England in Cumbria

The number of people attending Church of England Christmas services across Cumbria is at a five year high, new statistics reveal.

The figures are contained in the Church of England’s annual Statistics for Mission 2017 report, published today, and which also shows average church attendance edging down.

Records show the number of people attending a Christmas service in the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria - increased year-on-year by 800, bringing the total to 34,500.

It mirrors a national trend of successive rises in Christmas congregations and follows a special radio advertising campaign in Cumbria last year, commissioned by Big Reach Innovator Eleanor Ledesma, aimed at encouraging people to attend church at Christmas.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, said: “It is wonderful to see a continued growth in the number of people coming to church in Cumbria at Christmas to celebrate the birth of our infant Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“My prayer is that hearts will continue to be touched by the real Christmas story again this year so that as many people as possible have the opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives, so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus within a Christian community.”

This year’s Church at Christmas campaign will see further radio and online adverts as well as Christmas invitations sent to 138,000 households across Cumbria next month.

In line with national trends the average adult and child attendance at a general Sunday service has fallen slightly – down 300 – but the figures also show encouraging growth in those attending all age school services in church - up by 700.

Meanwhile the percentage of Church of England baptisms and funerals in Cumbria is among the highest in England per head of population. The number turning to the diocese for infant or child baptism was England’s highest at 31% of all births in the county in 2017.

Likewise the percentage of Church of England funerals in Cumbria in relation to the number of deaths in 2017 was 42% - one of the highest recorded nationally.

Bishop James added: “It is heartening to see that Cumbrian people continue to turn to the Church when facing some of life’s big events.

“I give thanks that people are choosing to have their children baptized and welcomed into God’s Church in such numbers and that they also know they can turn to their local church at times of loss and bereavement, receiving Christian comfort and care at such difficult times.

“However, we must not rest in our mission to grow God’s Kingdom in Cumbria. Through our God for All strategy we remain committed to the inherited church and supporting all those in faith while also looking at exciting new ways of doing and being church, reaching out in new ways to grow disciples.”


Notes to editors
• Statistics for Mission 2017 can be found here.
• The annual collection of Statistics for Mission is overseen by the Church of England’s Research and Statistics Unit.
• Each of the almost 16,000 churches in the Church of England was asked to report figures including the size of their Worshipping Community, attendance at Sunday and midweek services, attendance at Easter and Christmas, and the numbers of baptisms, marriages, and funerals they carried out during the year. Complete data were received from 88% of churches; where data were missing, values were estimated where possible, based on trends from previous years.
• The Worshipping Community measures the number of people who regularly attend once a month or more. This could include Evensong, or a week day service as well as a Holy Communion service on a Sunday. The Worshipping Community figures have been collected since 2012 and have remained relatively stable over the past four years at around 1.1 million.
• The Mission Statistics do not include services in prisons, hospitals, schools and military chapels and university chaplaincies.
• Statistics for Mission figures in most cases include figures from cathedrals; however, the figures for Advent special services do not include cathedral attendances during this period. Statistics for cathedrals were published last month.

For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at


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