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Attendance at Anglican churches declining

Attendance at Anglican churches declining

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The number of persons that follow the Anglican faith in the Caribbean is diminishing as persons move towards churches that are not attached to the traditional Christian groups.

This was highlighted by Bishop of Barbados and Archbishop of the West Indies John Holder during an interview at the Young Island resort on Friday, November 21.{{more}}

Bishop Holder made this revelation after attending two meetings in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The first meeting was of the House of Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in the West Indies, and the second, a meeting of the Provincial Standing Committee, the body that manages the province and Anglicans in the West Indies, between synods (deals with issues that may arise in the synods).

The meetings were held at the Anglican Pastoral Centre from November 17 to 20.

Archbishop Holder said that the meetings discussed among other things, challenges facing the Anglican Church in the region and during the discussions it was noted that the last census conducted in this region, showed a decline of church attendance across churches.

He opined that the Anglicans are not the only ones being affected by the decline in churchgoers, as the move away is also affecting other churches as well.

“The fastest growing group is the group that is saying that they are not attached to any one church. So, for us as Anglicans, that creates a challenge,” said the Archbishop.

He said that these younger churches are not connected to the more established entities like the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Moravian and Salvation Army organizations.

“There is a whole range of Pentecostal churches and what we are seeing now in the region is the fascination with the TV ministry, where every Sunday or during the week, these TV ministries are engaged in activities on television and people are fascinated with that because people are fascinated with television and if you have your message fashioned, packaged in a way that is in keeping with this fascination, people will attach to it,” stressed the Archbishop. He, however, made it clear, “We are not criticizing that, people are free to choose what they want to choose, but we as Anglicans, we have something solid and important to offer and we have been doing it for the last 200 years and we will continue to do so.”

He added that during the discussions held at the meetings, it was noted that while they have various challenges as a church, the Anglican church has a lot to offer.

“We have an understanding of the world that does not divide the world into neat and small watertight compartments,” said the Archbishop, who stressed that “the real cut and thrust of the discussion” is not really to increase numbers, but to help more people experience the Christian faith as Anglicans understand it and as they practise it.

“Out of that exercise, more people might decide to become Anglicans, but the primary purpose of our discussions and our understanding of our ministry is to help people understand and to experience God at work in their lives.”

Archbishop Holder also added that the Anglican Church for a long time has had a very sensitive social conscience that says that they cannot separate Christianity, “from where our Sunday worship has nothing to do with our Monday activity.”

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