Our Dean welcomes national report into growth of cathedral worship
The Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr Pete Wilcox has warmly welcomed a national report which confirms that attendance at cathedral worship nationwide grew by 18% in the ten years up to 2015.
Commenting on the report the Dean said “this very much chimes in with our experience here in Liverpool. Attendance at Sunday worship has grown significantly over the last two years, and our congregations have become much more diverse ethnically and in age range”.
According to the statistics the cathedral regularly welcomes over 400 at services on Sundays with us; with a further 300 joining us in the week. The figures show the particular popularity of Christmas services. Last year (2015), we had 3,674 worshippers with us over the Christmas period. This matches the national trend which saw attendance at the highest level since 2011. Holy Week and Easter services were also well received with 4,470 coming through the doors to worship with us.
“Christmas and Easter are obviously key celebrations for committed Christians”, the Dean commented, “but it is encouraging to see that they also remain important for a wider audience. The figures suggest that the general public in fact retains more of a loyalty to the Christian story than the media often declares’.
The official statistics give a wider picture of cathedrals’ engagement with their communities, revealing the numbers attending education events, graduations and the general level of visitors. As the number one attraction in Liverpool, as rated by the TripAdviser website, this Cathedral welcomed over 400,000 visitors in 2015. Nearly 9,000 school children joined us over the year and we held 14 graduation ceremonies attended by over 20,000 people. On top of that 53,834 people attended the 148 different cultural events we held during the year.
“We hold strongly to the view we are a cathedral built by the people for the people and our service to the community is really important to us” Dean Pete commented. “Our recent partnership agreement with Liverpool John Moores University, which saw them become the first corporate Guardian of our ’24 for 2024’ appeal demonstrates our civic value and the importance the University attaches to our cathedral in delivering a rich student experience.”
Overall, the statistical evidence points to the strength of cathedrals in general and Liverpool Cathedral in particular. Dean Pete concluded “The publication of these figures is extremely encouraging: they show that up and down the country cathedrals are sustaining the growth which has been reported for a number of years. Clearly, something about cathedral worship is meeting a need and contributing significantly to the spiritual life of the nation. Here in Liverpool, our commitment to grow our congregations is bearing fruit. But in addition to increased numbers at Sunday worship week by week (which is itself a great encouragement) we have been delighted to see an increased diversity among those attending. We thank God for this trend, but we are not complacent about growth: we intend to keep investing time and energy in our proclamation of the Gospel, not least because it will enhance our capacity to serve our city and region in the way we aspire to do. Like the Diocese of Liverpool as a whole, we seek 'a bigger church, to make a bigger difference’.
The publication of these figures shows that our experience in Liverpool is not unique. In April this year, it was my privilege to host the annual conference of the Deans of the Church of England here. Our four days together were characterised by a shared desire to learn and to grow and to make our cathedrals places of learning and growth, so that we are able to welcome more and more people through our doors. These figures suggest we remain on track."