Weekly Email – Epiphany 2
It has always been my practice as a vicar to write once a year each January to the congregations I have served about what the church statistics of the previous year tell us about attendance. Of course, numbers and graphs don’t tell us the whole truth about the vitality of a parish’s life, but they are a useful way of looking at how All Saints is developing, and help us recognise trends in behaviour and attendance that otherwise we might not spot.
The figures for the first half of 2021 are, as you can imagine pretty erratic as we struggled to emerge from COVID, but the statistics for this autumn reveal many patterns of parish life gradually returning to something approaching normal, but with certain new trends emerging. I lay out a précis of the main points of interest below.
The most significant change our latest figures for the year 2021 show is the continued presence of a stable and growing online congregation, which appears to be developing into a permanent part of our parish’s life, even after the relaxation of lockdowns.
The Church of England now encourages us to keep records of online live participants at liturgies which are broadcast, and to count these figures as part of our attendance statistics.
This group of online worshippers is made up of a wide range of people: those who live in London but who still feel for whatever reason that they cannot get to worship with us at All Saints’ as often as they could before; our housebound and sick parishioners; new people who are now able to worship with us from further afield in the UK; and many individuals from abroad, especially north America. The task that lies before us over the coming years is to ensure this important group of people is included in all our thinking and planning.
We regularly now have 15-20 people worshipping online live with us each day for the whole of the daily Mass, and around 50 on Sunday mornings for the High Mass. These figures have been remarkably stable through the autumn and seem to represent a permanent new characteristic of our worshipping life at All Saints’.
I want to say to every person who worships with us online that you are a valued and cherished part of the All Saints family. We feel blessed by your presence and are so pleased you choose to connect with us and worship with us in this way.
In person worship
The most pronounced area of numerical growth over the past twelve months in terms of “in person” worship has been the daily Mass. COVID meant that the three Masses per day we used to offer were suspended and just one Mass at 12 noon was celebrated through most of 2020-21. This prompted three disparate congregations to come together, and a new eucharistic community was formed, which has grown. This 12 noon Mass is broadcast each day. It regularly attracts 10-15 people worshiping in person and a further 15-20 attending virtually.
In the past few weeks, we have added an extra Mass in the evenings at 6.15. This Mass is still settling down and its numbers fluctuate more than the noon Mass, but is rarely attended by fewer than 4-5 people. At the moment, therefore, total daily in-person attendance is in the range of 15-20. If you add online live worshippers, this rises to a daily total of around 30-35.
It is clear we have better total attendance with two Masses a day than we used to have before COVID with three celebrations of the Eucharist. The daily broadcasting of the 12 noon liturgy is also evidently a valued practice welcomed by many. My own personal instinct is that there is no need for the 8.00 am daily Mass to return, and that we are better off concentrating on two Masses at 12 noon and 6.15 pm.
This area of growth in daily worship during the week is something for which we should joyfully give thanks. It is a blessing that God is calling so many people to worship with us physically Monday to Friday, and to connect with us online.
The “New Normal”
If one looks at Sunday attendance, a new and different pattern of worship seems to be arising. As an exercise for comparison, I have taken the attendance figures for the past four months, which is a period that has seen steady church attendance unaffected by lockdowns, and compared them with the same period in 2018 in the graph below.
We now have two Masses fewer each Sunday than we had in 2018 – there was a Saturday night vigil Mass and an 8.00 am Mass then, which have not returned. The figures for 2021 simply include the 11.00 am High Mass, the 5.15 pm Low Mass and Evensong and Benediction.
Certain trends emerge. One is that we still do not have as many people worshipping with us in person at the 11.00 am High Mass as we did in 2018. The average attendance for the High Mass for those four months in 2018 was 124, by contrast with 94 for the autumn of 2021. Attendance at the 11.00 am High Mass is gradually creeping up, but this is an area where we need to focus much energy and thought, if we are to see attendance at the High Mass return to its pre-COVID levels.
The good news, however, is that if you add online live attendance to our in person figures, we actually have a slightly higher total Sunday attendance than in 2018. The average total Sunday attendance (including online live worshipers) for the past four months has been 201.5. This contrasts with an average total Sunday attendance of 189.5 for the same months in 2018.
Rather than thinking in terms of a bounce back to the same position we had before COVID, I think it makes more sense to think in terms of us being called by God to embrace a new reality in which those wanting to connect with us do so in a range of different ways, including through online worship.
We have substantially more people worshipping with us both online and in person during the week than we used to. By contrast, on Sundays we have fewer Masses than we used to, and fewer people worshipping in person. However, if you include online worshippers, a clear growth in the total number of Sunday worshippers by comparison with the autumn of 2018 is to be seen – which is an extraordinary achievement for our parish given the COVID complications of the past 2 years!
Some key questions emerge from these figures which it will be important for us to think about over the next year. What can we do to increase the number of people attending the Sunday High Mass? Is there worth in restoring the Saturday evening vigil Mass? What trends are discernable in attendance at Evensong and Benediction, and might this become an area of growth? How can we include the needs and perspectives of those who worship online in our thinking and planning?
There is much to reflect upon in these figures, but above all we should give thanks to God for the resources he has given us, which allow us to reach out in new ways to his world. Let us pray for the courage, ingenuity and insight to respond to the new challenges we are presented with in ways that help draw new people to faith in Jesus Christ.
The sacraments of baptism and confirmation will be celebrated at the Easter Vigil at 9.00 pm on Saturday 16th April by Archbishop Rowan Williams. If anyone would like to baptized and/or confirmed, please let Fr Peter know, so that we can begin preparation classes in February.
Society of King Charles the Martyr
The Society of King Charles the Martyr’s annual commemoration of the death of Charles I will take place at All Saints’ on Saturday 29th January. The Banqueting House, where this has usually taken place in the past, is under restoration at the moment.
There will be a High Mass at 12 noon, and the preacher will be the Revd Toby Boutle, Vicar of the Parish of Swindon New Town.
Forthcoming Preachers 2022
Wednesday 2nd February 2022 – 6.00 pm
Preacher: The Revd Dr Canon Jeremy Haselock.
Sunday 27th February 2022 – 11.00 am
Sunday Next Before Lent
Preacher: The Revd Marjorie Brown, Vicar of St Mary’s, Primrose Hill.
Sunday 6th March 2022 – 11.00 am
First Sunday of Lent
Celebrant and Preacher: The Bishop of Fulham.
Sunday 27th March 2022 – 11.00 am
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Preacher: The Revd Tom Sander, Vicar of St Giles-in-the-Fields.
Sunday 3rd April 2022 – 11.00 am
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Preacher: Dr Sister Gemma Simmonds, CJ, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge.
Sunday 10th April – Sunday 17th April 2022
Preacher: The Most Revd & Rt Hon Rowan Williams.
Thursday 16th June – 6.00 pm
Preacher: The Revd Max Bayliss, Chaplain, Queens’ College, Cambridge.
Sunday 14th August 2022 – 6.30 pm
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Preacher: The Revd Graeme Rowlands, Vicar of St Silas’, Kentish Town.
Tuesday 1st November 2022 – 6.00 pm
All Saints’ Day
Celebrant and Preacher: The Bishop of Fulham.
Links for Sunday
The link for the Propers for Epiphany 2 is at the end of this email. Click here for the YouTube live stream.
Evensong and Benediction at 6pm on Sunday. This week the music includes Purcell in G minor, and Gibbons See, see the Word is incarnate.
The flowers in church are given in memory of Craig Williams.
We are looking for volunteers to help with the flowers in church. If you have a particular talent for flower arranging and would like to help from time to time or on a regular basis, please contact Shawn on 07988 287 663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to make a donation for flowers, please contact Shawn or speak to Chris Self.
Craig Williams RIP
There will be a High Mass of Requiem for Craig tomorrow Saturday 15th January at Noon. All are welcome to attend. The Requiem will be streamed here. The link for the Propers is at the end of this email.
Rosemary Harris RIP
The funeral rites of Rosemary Harris will take place at All Saints’ church on Wednesday 26th January at 12 noon. Her mortal remains will be welcomed into church and a High Mass of Requiem will be offered for the repose of her soul. A reception for those present will take place after the funeral Mass. The committal will take place the next day, Thursday 27th January, at Mortlake Crematorium at 10.00 am.
Prisoners and captives
Nazanin Zhagari-Ratcliffe, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, Nasrin Sotoudeh
Rohingya Christians in Pakistan, Karen Christians in Burma, Tigrayan Christians in Ethiopia
Fr Harry Hodgetts, Martin Berka, Elizabeth Lyon, James Shrimpton, Steven Collingwood, Anne-Marie Chartier, Bernard Holmes, Thelma Spill, Sheila Pereira
Those known to us recently departed
Desmond Tutu Bp, Geoff Vardy, Sue Yesnick, Rosemary Harris, Robert Jowitt
Anniversaries of death
16th – Margaret Henwood, George Haines, Dennis Black, Claire Browne
17th – Elizabeth King, Beatrice Ansah
18th – Albert Sheppard
19th – Arnold Lawson
20th – Kate Gorge, Josephine Whittley
21st – Harris Charlton, William Clark, Hannah Berry, John Snoswell, Mary Bishop, Virginia Smith, Isabella Fotheringham, Frank Whitehill, Lilian Yorke, Gwyneth Hopkins
22nd – Amony Lay, Annie Waggett, Maggie Dibley, Derek Allen Pr, Jim Swanton, Edith Laing
Supporting All Saints
Parish Giving Scheme
You can set up a regular donation to All Saints here.
We use the Parish Giving Scheme, which allows contributions to be anonymous and deals with GiftAid, saving our office a lot of time. You can read about how the scheme works here.
Donations for general church purposes
To give by BACS please use the following details, advising the Administrator to collect Gift Aid:
PCC All Saints (Charity no. 1132895)
Sort Code 60-09-15
Parish Legacy Policy
We are always delighted to hear from anyone who wants to support us with a donation. Our PCC Legacy Policy encourages people to leave bequests specifically to one of our two related charities to be used for purposes of lasting value (rather than day to day costs):
All Saints Choir & Music Trust (Charity # 802994)
or The All Saints Foundation (Charity # 273390).