This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
|The commissioning of a new Anglican church in Belgrave, which worships in a range of languages, in 2012, has boosted numbers|
Church sees large rise in worshippers
by Tim Healy
Nearly 2,000 people have joined Church of England congregations across Leicestershire, a survey has revealed.
Many parishes are reporting that numbers attending services are on the increase following years of decline.
The figures for 2012 have just been published by the Diocese of Leicester, from responses sent in by more than 300 churches.
It means that across the diocese, more than 22,000 people are now regular members of an Anglican worshipping community.
The Bishop of Leicester the Rt Rev Tim Stevens said: "These figures reveal that in times of austerity people are looking for deeper satisfaction and meaning in their lives.
"Churches that are welcoming, responsive and prayerful increasingly meet that need."
The survey detailed many reasons people were prompted to find out more about the Christian faith, with a newer form of all-age, more creative church entitled Messy Church being one of the most popular.
A new multilingual congregation in All Saints, Belgrave was set up last year.
A parish spokesman said: "We have managed to reach out, resulting in 16 people being baptised, including those of other faith backgrounds."
Other churches have been involved in projects to feed those in need.
In Ashby, the CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Midlands National Forest Centre has continued to provide debt counselling and advice to an increasing number of clients.
The Rev Barry Hill, who is responsible for mission in the diocese, said: "This report brings much good news, not least that more than 22,000 Christians of all ages are showing they live, work, study, play and socialise together and that God makes a difference in their lives, in that there is much more with Jesus than without.
"The most reassuring trend is that the increase is a small and steady trend across a large number of churches, so is likely to be sustainable."
About 12,500 people attend worship on an average Sunday, and a further 3,000 on weekdays.
The number of people who attended Anglican services at Christmas 2012 was 36,800 – the highest number since 2008.
Details from the parish showed the majority of churches surveyed, 215, had Sunday congregations of fewer than 50.
There were 40 congregations of between 51 and 100, 16 between 101 and 150, nine of 151 to 250 and two of more than 250.
However, the parish returns show the average age of a worshipper remains about 14 years older than the population as a whole. This is illustrated by 465 members of churches dying in the past year.
The research, conducted annually, is available in full on the Diocese of Leicester website: www.leicester.anglican.org