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Scottish census shows decline in number of Christians: The Church of England Newspaper, October 4, 2013 p 4. October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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The 2011 census for Scotland sounds a wake-up call for churches, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said last week.

In a statement released on 27 September 2013 in response to the publication of the 2011 Census returns in Scotland, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane warned the “figures for religious affiliation in Scotland are a significant challenge for churches.  Nominal membership of traditional churches is swiftly changing into ‘no religion’.”

Ninety-three per cent of those responding to the census answered the question on religion. Of these the largest single category were those who stated they were non-religious: 37 per cent. The non-religious group also had the highest rise, with those of no-faith growing from 28 per cent in 2001 to 37 per cent in 2011.

Approximately 32 per cent stated they were members of the Church of Scotland, a decrease of 10 per cent from 2011 and 16 per cent were identified as Roman Catholics –unchanged from 2011. Other Christians including the Scottish Episcopal Church comprised 6 per cent of the population in 2011, compared with 7 per cent in 2001.

Other faiths included 77,000 Muslims, or 1.4 per cent of the population, 16,000 Hindus, 13,000 Buddhists, 9,000 Sikhs and 6000 Jews.

The reasons for the decline in the number of professed Christians was “clear”, Bishop Chillingworth said.

“Traditional patterns of church life have difficulty attracting people in a mobile, fast-changing and increasingly sophisticated society.  Congregations are communities of affection which gather in time-hallowed buildings and they find change challenging. “

However, “all is far from lost.  A majority of people in this society still identify themselves as Christian.  Their faith, their hopes and their interest are a mission opportunity for open and attractive faith communities which are creatively led.”

He added that the “rising levels of interest in spirituality – evidenced by growing interest in pilgrimage, prayer and other faith-related activity – show that many people are searching for depth and meaning in their lives.  Many are open to exploring discipleship even if they are unlikely to become church members in the traditional sense.”

However, churches “need to change and I welcome that.  We need to become more creative and flexible.  We need to think less about surviving and more about thriving.  We need to help people to develop their experience of the spiritual.  And we need to learn to work together in mission to this new kind of society,” the primus said.

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