Britain as a nation is returning to Church - The Malvern Observer

Britain as a nation is returning to Church

Malvern Editorial 15th Feb, 2024   0

Millions of Brits are finding their hearts and souls are hungry for honesty, for peace, for kindness, for comfort and for fellowship and they are finding it within the Church,’ writes Rachael Tearney.

Something is afoot in the UK, something quite surprising that runs contrary to popular belief. Britain as a nation is returning to Church.

Small parishes are seeing their congregations increase and data gathered by the Association of English Cathedrals shows the startling rise in visitors to British cathedrals.

Cathedral visits are up a staggering 197% from 2.9 million in 2021 to over 5 million in 2022. They say God moves in mysterious ways but is this indicative of something deeper going on? Perhaps it was triggered by the isolation of lockdown or perhaps by the extraordinary lack of morality displayed by some of our elected politicians. But the fact is, people are searching for meaning and they’re looking towards the Church.

Whatever the political shenanigans of the Church leaders may be, on a grassroots level, congregations are growing. If you have found yourself feeling empty or lost in recent years, you are not alone. Millions of Brits are finding their hearts and souls are hungry for honesty, for peace, for kindness, for comfort and for fellowship and they are finding it within the Church.

We are nation of art lovers, we love old buildings, architecture and paintings, all of which can be found in these magnificent buildings. People are discovering the medieval wall paintings tucked away in tiny churches, for example in Pickering in Yorkshire and in Breage in Cornwall.

Parish Church, Pickering, North Yorkshire. This church is famous for its extensive medieval wall paintings, c.1460. The upper panel depicts the murder of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury. The lower scene shows the murder Edmund, King of East Anglia in 870 AD. Photo credit: Picture Esk. Photo Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED

Millions continue to visit places like Italy every year to wonder at the splendor of the churches and cathedrals there. However, this search has now extended to what is right here in the UK under our noses. As a nation we love history and we’re discovering the stories within parishes of great reformers whose faith and action was rooted firmly in Christ and whose work resulted in great improvements to society.

Let us return then to the small parishes doing so well, what is their appeal? Well, there is fellowship first and foremost; the feeling of not being alone. The service on a Sunday is just a part of parish life, there are coffee mornings and remember no fees or memberships are needed. These may be women’s groups, men’s groups, mixed or family and along with tea and coffee there are often cakes! We’ve revived the art of baking as a nation and cakes have become a real passion for many; coffee mornings offer a chance to bake and share, to talk and feel part of something.

There is the Mothers Union, holding mother and toddler sessions, offering support and shared experience for mothers of young children. There is grief support and prayer groups, offering solace and strength in our darkest hours. There is thought and study. Christianity is, after all, a philosophy. Traditionally bible study will take a few chapters of the bible and conversation and reflection will follow. Christian philosophy is a moral code for living defined by Christ, written about and aspired to by the Apostles and many generations since, it is having appeal again. The philosophy of peace and love is touching people’s hearts once more.

Finally, there is music. Singing together has great benefits. It has recently been prescribed by doctors for wellbeing and to lift the mood, to help with depression and anxiety. In my own small rural parish, the choir’s ranks are growing such that they can barely fit in the stalls. Again, there are no fees, no auditions, you just turn up and join in.

It seems that we as people hanker for companionship, for kindness, for comfort and for artistic and meaningful expression; the Church provides all of these. Of course, we are all human, fellow church goers are just people, they try and they fail, they hope and they fear, they love and they lose, they cry, they suffer and they triumph; we are all the same in that regard but being part of a Church mean you don’t have to do those things alone.

The Church of England is extremely healthy financially with an investment fund of over £10 billion. No more churches will need to close. The spread of faith and attendance amongst the people of Britain will determine the future of the Church, regardless of antics of temporary appointed leaders.

So, if you’ve found yourself wondering, what is Church like? What is it all about, is there something there for me? The answer is most likely, yes.

You’re not alone in your curiosity, we feel the shallowness of secularism and the darkness in the world keenly at present and as a result, we the people, are reaching for the light.

Most churches have websites with details of services and social groups, choirs and coffee mornings.

Also check out:

Friendless Churches – A charity preserving old churches. You can become a member and get involved in restoration projects. Find out more at or at @friendschurches.

Save The Parish – A movement concerned with supporting parishes as the synod moves to reduce clergy and funding at

By  Rachael Tearney

Follow Rachel at @WritesRachael

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