Census 2011: Fall In Number Of Christians In Scilly

St Mary’s Parish Church

There’s been a fall in the number of people in Scilly who consider themselves Christians.

Official data from the 2011 census reveals that 55% of the 2,203 people surveyed said they were Christian. That’s down from 71% in 2001 and lower than the national average of 59%.

Scilly is also in the highest 10% of local authorities in England and Wales where locals identifying themselves as having “No Religion.”

34% of residents put themselves in this category, up from 20% a decade ago and compares with the latest national average of 25%.

The islands’ two church leaders say they are not surprised at the change but Scilly remains a community where faith is important to many islanders.

Canon Paul Miller says there are still over people who have (over half the population still said they are Christian here.

But he feels the Church as an institution has become less attractive to people.

Charlie Gibbs says Methodist church attendance goes up and down over time and his church is here for the long term.

Charlie also expressed surprise the figure was higher than 50%.

He says it’s important for Christians on the islands to face what could be, “challenging and difficult times” and said the Methodist church is committed to their mission on the islands.

Charlie says winter is when he can see the real church attendance figures and says they’re still able to maintain three services a week during that time.

He said he’s also keen to work more closely with the Parish church.


11 Responses to Census 2011: Fall In Number Of Christians In Scilly

  1. Raggett February 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    ” Cost of minimum repairs to our church – £200,000
    Annual running costs – £40,000
    Average congregation – 35 ”

    Then sell the place and use a more environmentaly and financially acceptable premises, this is happening throughout the country where congregations have diminished. Wake up and join the REAL world.

  2. Katie F January 8, 2013 at 9:14 am

    The ‘shooting yourself in the foot’ issue is the main one that I was aiming at (no pun intended), so thank you for clarifying so succinctly Kevin!

    However, if the church is really worried about not marrying gay couples because of literal translations of the Bible then I sincerely hope that we won’t be trawling back down the road of evangelical interpretation in every aspect of life…

    An ‘opt out’ clause for anti-same sex marriage vicars and their congregations would have sat more comfortably for me. I find it incredibly sad that a good friend of mine (on the mainland) who is one of the most active members of his church – attending every Sunday and contributing the day to day running of that particular community – could not be married to his ‘civil partner’ by a vicar who wanted to marry them, and in front of a congregation who wanted to see them married, because of what does, fundamentally, boil down to discrimination.

    I really hope that congregations on Scilly pick up, and that tr coffers are filled as quickly as possible to allow for basic repairs and maintenance. But I hope that the reversal in the census figures comes about as a response to the church accepting and respecting all Christians equally.

  3. Nobby Nobbs January 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    My views on the church got moderated 🙂

  4. Kev Wright January 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Well it sounds to me as though the church should be doing all it can to encourage people to marry there if those figures are correct. Having a go at people who only want to use the church for a wedding is a bit like shooting yourself in the foot!

    As for civil partnerships I suppose that would have to be down to the person conducting the ceremony. It would make sense for them to be held in a church from a financial point of view. However, if people take the Bible literally then it would seem to be opposed to such events happening in the first place.

    In defense of your opposition to gay marriage (and before you get lynched or questioned about being homophobic, something which you clearly haven’t stated) – if a wedding takes place in a church then surely it would be a Christian wedding – and doesn’t the Bible state that a wedding is between a man and a woman? Whether the union is same sex, different sexes or half a dozen people joining together I couldn’t care less, but by its very definition marriage is between a man and a woman. So while same sex unions should be no less respected or important they’d have to be given a different name or the meaning of the word changed wouldn’t they?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, I claim to be no theological expert.

    • Ian T January 5, 2013 at 9:29 am

      I am not having a go at those who only use the church for weddings, etc. but trying to make these and other people realise what a desperate financial state most churches are in at the moment and hope that they might make some contribution not just with money but by helping with the day-to-day running e.g. flower arranging, cleaning, etc.

      No, I’m not homophobic – we have relatives and friends who are gay (what a silly word!). It’s the word marriage which offends most people especially as it is already commonly used to describe civil partnerships.

  5. Ian T January 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Cost of minimum repairs to our church – £200,000
    Annual running costs – £40,000
    Average congregation – 35
    Cost of wedding ceremony – £350
    Cost of bride’s dress – £500, £1000..??
    Warm welcome – free and always given
    Women bishops – the sooner the better
    Gay marriage – totally opposed. Just doesn’t make sense. A civil partnership i.e. register office ‘wedding’ is fine for many. A ‘marriage’ is between a Man and a Woman – nothing else.!

  6. Katie F January 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    IanT, I thought about responding to you before but didn’t because I could feel my blood pressure rising and because ‘Phil’ made me laugh and ‘Just a Local’ summed up the majority of what I would have said. And yet here you are again, displaying the worst possible attitude by taking everything that the church contributes to a community and belittling it with economics – rather skewed ones at that. My two favourite bizarre points are that a) visitors keep the local churches going and b) that the amount that people spend on hiring the church for a wedding should be unfavourably compared to the cost of a wedding dress. Do you really think, on a group of islands where the average salary is £13k per year, that the church should charge more?!

    I am a Christian and sometimes, but not always, go to church on a Sunday morning – I’m not just limited to special occassions. HOWEVER, I can acknowledge that the church’s ‘assets’ produce large revenues and also that the church is sadly out of date and alienating to a modern congregation; indeed, the vicar who preached the sermon at the midnight mass I attended last week delivered a powerful message that essentially boiled down to the idea that this is a time of coming together when (I’m not paraphrasing here) “the Church of England seems determined to pull itself apart.”

    So, as far as I can see, the biggest problems facing the Church at the moment are
    – outdated and totally disgusting attitudes towards gay marriage
    – the determination (mostly from the laity) to restrict the role of women within the organisation
    – people like you who clearly don’t want to make new members of a congregation feel welcome.

    Finally, a parting remark. At my confirmation last year I got into a long and very interesting conversation with a senior bishop who told me – and this is a fact backed up by statistics – that there are three main points that casual church goers become regular church goers. 1) After being married in church 2) Upon having children and deciding to christen them in church 3) After working with a church in organising a funeral for a friend or family member. If you continue with your negative comments you’re actively reducing the number of people that are likely to attend church and, seeing as this is what matters to you, add to the coffers. Well done.

  7. Just a local December 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    IanT, I was so cross when I read your statement. You do not have to go to church to believe in God, or whatever name you choose for him.
    The church happens to be one of the richest organisations in the world, probably causes the most trouble as well. If people get married in church, they flipping well have to pay for it, it’s not free, And can cost a lot. With people like you in the congregation, it’s not surprising there’s a drop in numbers. I believe in god, and go on the odd occasion, ie. xmas , funerals, weddings and christening s. I am pretty sure that its not a congregation that keeps the church a float!!!!!!! And some of the recent decisions the Church has made wont be helping their cause, they need to get real.

    • Ian T January 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      Sorry, but you are living in cuckoo land. The church is asset rich not cash rich. Weddings and funerals are charged for but the charge for a wedding wouldn’t even cover the cost of a cheap dress for the bride..! I suggest you ask one of the St Mary’s Parochial Church Council members how much it costs to keep the churches on Scilly going and how much they actually receive from those attending. I can assure you that without the benefit of visitors to the Isles most, if not all, of your churches would be facing closure.

  8. phil December 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Ah what a fine christian attitude you have there Ian.

  9. IanT December 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    As a church going Christian involved in trying to keep our local church’s head above water in these difficult times, it increasingly amazes me how congregations continue to fall and people say they don’t believe in God yet, when it comes to a time when they want to have a wedding or funeral they expect the church to be there for them. And, importantly, who do think pays for that church to be there as and when they need it? In case you don’t know, it’s the congregation – nobody else..!