people realise the number of baptisms has continually declined (by
nearly 80% since 1900). The
chart below puts this into further depression!
70% of live births in 1920, baptisms have dropped to 20% in 2007.
However as live births include those of other faiths (which has
obviously increased proportionately in the same period) I have carried
out further research to find a more realistic comparison within the
Anglican community. Over
the same 100 year period the only consistent measure is of Easter
Communicants (Christmas statistics are not available for the same
period). The reduction is
similarly significant - a reduction from 26% to 9%.
in the darkness there is light in the last 7 years!
Baptisms 2002 to 2007
down from 151,000 to 139,000
from 103,000 to 88,000
steady at 40,000
(13+) up from 8,000 to 10,000
that “adult” figure that is encouraging and reflects the comment
to us by a Diocesan Bishop who said he seldom officiated at a
Confirmation Service without there being an adult baptism - very often
It is a trend
that has continued upwards for many years.
Of those baptized in 1990, 80% were infants, 15% were children
and 4% were 13+.
In 2007 the corresponding figured were 63%, 29% and 7%.
must take care in our interpretation but one conclusion is that
because less infant baptisms take place there are more reaching
maturity and wanting to affirm their faith personally.
is no objective evidence as to why the 1-12 age group is relatively
static in numbers.
Would I be right in assuming that this might reflect a more
careful reflection by parents before the baptism?
Or is there a possibility some feel (quite wrongly) that
entrance to Church Schools will be facilitated.
Another factor, though there is no objective evidence, is that
in 2008 over 45% of live births were “outside marriage” - a
question quite often raised by our website correspondents.
has to be admitted we are working from a relatively low base, but
having fallen from the peak in 2004, 2007 saw an increase from 5,900
in 2006 to 6.400.
research sadly confirms that the Thanksgiving Service is still
relatively unheard of, and still considered a “second-class”
option. Those who
would like more information are invited to look at our website
page and associated cross references .
remain very wide differences across Dioceses, with infant baptisms
being highest in Carlisle Lincoln and Hereford 300-400 baptisms to
1000 live births, and lowest in London, St Albans and Birmingham (less than
100 baptisms per 1000 births)
to the above figures
for 2009 show the same downward trends related to 2002 base year with
the exception of child baptisms up10%, adult baptisms up 31%, and child
thanksgivings up 13% over the period.
[All figures sourced from the Church of
England Statistics Web pages and the Office for National Statistics]