The Times of London (April 9) publishes a report under the title: “Church of Scotland Facing Extinction.”
While an obituary is obviously premature, a new report from the Church’s Board of National Mission notices alarming trends, and describes a Church “on uncertain ground”, according to a Church’s news release (April 19). In 2000, the Church had 607,000 members — compared with 770,000 in 1991 and 1,133,000 in 1971.
It is losing up to 19,000 members every year. According to the report, “many people are so far removed from the Church that several generations have passed without any family member having seen the inside of a church building, far less having taken part in Christian worship.” And replacements are not enough for all the ministers due to retire.
In addition, there is a drop in capital: from more than £31 million at the end of 1999 to less than £25 million at the end of last year — a result of both stock market crashes and spending (stipend rises). Regarding parishes, however, the situation is more checkered: besides poor parishes being unable to maintain church buildings (especially in poor urban areas), other ones have vast reserves from legacies or sales of property.
Generally speaking, the report states that declining membership and related problems derive from “the lack of relevance of the Church in people’s lives.”
— Jean-François Mayer (Website for the Church of Scotland: http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk)