In the second of our series looking at the diversity of Christianity in the Eastlondonlines boroughs, Amalia Illgner and Naomi Joseph discover that although church membership has been in decline for years, there are some denominations bucking this trend
Christians across the country will be looking forward to this year’s Easter celebrations, the most significant religious festival in their calendar. With nearly six in ten people considering themselves as Christian, Christianity is still the largest religion in the UK, but church membership is in decline.
Dr Peter Brierley, the UK’s foremost Christian statistician defines church membership as: “Those who wish to be associated with a particular church or denomination in a deeper way than just attending services” and between 2008 and 2013 the number of Christians dropped by five per cent.
However, this rate of decline has slowed down due to the growth of two specific denominations and one national movement. The Fresh Expressions movement, which grew by 273 per cent in just five years has contributed the most to this growth, but there are two other denominations which are bucking the trend of decline.
These are the Pentecostal and the Orthodox Churches. Both these increases, Brierley says, are driven by the arrival of Christian immigrants. As immigration tends to concentrate within cities, Christian practice in London has actually increased despite the national trend of decline. Brierley says that growth in London is “absolutely unique” and has found that “nearly a quarter of people who go to church, do so in London”.
The number of churches also increased in the capital by 17 per cent between 2008 and 2013, with all four ELL boroughs beating the citywide average. This is mainly attributed to the growth of Pentecostal churches; in all four boroughs there were more Pentecostal churches than any other denomination.
And it is not just the numbers of churches which have increased. The numbers of people attending church in London has also increased by 16 per cent, with three of the four ELL boroughs surpassing the city average.
In all four of our boroughs Pentecostal is the largest Christian denomination with Anglican second. And although there are nearly 300 different Christian denominations, these fall into ten broad categories: Anglican; Baptist; Catholic; Independent; Methodist; New Churches; Orthodox; Pentecostal, Presbyterian and Smaller denominations.
Discover more about each category and see a local example in the interactive map below. Over the next four days we will be reporting on the state of Christianity in the ELL boroughs, and joining a few congregations – some tiny, others growing by the day – as they celebrate the Holy Week of Easter.
Tell us about your Easter: If you would like to share pictures of your Easter Sunday church service, tweet your pictures to: @eastlondonlines and use the hashtag “#MyEaster” with a second hashtag for your borough.
Reporting team: Anja Groner Krogstad, Kyra Hanson, Amalia Illgner and Naomi Joseph.