UK immigration slows fall in church attendance figures

10 Jun 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Falling church attendance figures are being bolstered by the immigration to the UK of European migrants, according to an official report.

Christians from Romania and Poland are helping to stop the downward trend in attendance numbers in Roman Catholic churches, while more than half of the 700 new black-led Pentecostal churches started in London between 2005 and 2012 are as a result of immigration.

The figures come from the soon-to-be-published UK Church Statistics report, which carried out a poll of around 300 Christian denominations last year and compared the results with the 2011 census. The research looked at immigration, ethnicity and religion.

Report author, Peter Brierley, told The Guardian: "Since many of the immigrants have come from 'Christian' countries, the flow of new people into existing congregations has been notable, as well as resulting in the formation of hundreds of new churches."

The latest results show an estimated rise in church memberships for 2015 and 2020. Four years ago, it was predicted that membership would be around 5,190,000 in 2015, but the influx of migrants means that figure has now been revised upwards to 5,370,000.

Similarly, the figure for 2025 attendances is also four per cent higher than previously estimated and now stands at 5,040,000.

Mr Brierley added: "While these increases are not sufficient to bring overall growth, these two key movements have, however, in effect, pushed the previous rate of decline back by about five years."

Results from the 2011 census show that 80 per cent of people in the UK now classify themselves as white-British, compared to 88 per cent in 2001. The number of white-British people in the UK fell by 3.3 million over the decade, but the population has increased by one million during the period.