The Church of England is facing a crisis because a generation of older women who keep its parishes going are dying out, according to academic analysis out yesterday.
It said that 70,000 female lay churchgoers now entering their eighties and nineties have been an essential volunteer army who have furnished and cleaned churches, provided the tea and the catering, raised money, and supplied the congregations for midweek services.
But there is no evidence that a new generation is stepping forward to replace them, the research said.
The latest warning of the impact of declining numbers on the Church was produced by Dr Abby Day of Goldsmiths, University of London.
Dr Day said: ‘The prognosis for the Church of England is grave.
‘While elderly laywomen have never been given a formal voice or fully acknowledged by the Church, they are the heart, soul and driving organisational force in parishes everywhere. Their loss will be catastrophic.’
The generation of volunteers identified by Dr Day – and labelled ‘Generation A’ – are the parents of the 1960s baby boomers and ‘the last generation whose values are centred on nation, family and God.’
Their willingness to work without reward for the Church has not been found among their children or grandchildren.
Dr Day’s analysis, set out in a new book, The Religious Lives of Older Laywomen, said younger churchgoers have turned to activism and other less practical ways of expressing their beliefs.
C of E leaders are deeply aware of the difficulties likely to be caused to the Church by the passing of a generation that felt great loyalty to it.
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SOURCE: Mail Online