01: There has been a sharp increase of Catholics training for lay ministries in the church, according to a recent study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). The report notes that the biggest change in 2006-2007 was in the number of people working toward degrees or certificates for “lay ecclesial ministry” — increasing 25 percent (by 20,240) from 2005- 2006. The number of seminarians in graduate theological studies this past academic year was down slightly. While enrollment was up in college seminaries, it decreased in high school seminaries, reports America magazine (June 18).
02: The trend of “greenshifting,” where people in their 20s and 30s who work in the IT fields, move from their urban and suburban surroundings to the countryside, is propelling a growth of church attendance in rural areas in Britain. Quadrant (July), the newsletter of the Christian Research Association, cites findings from the recently released 2005 English Church Census showing that it is the “remoter rural” areas that has the highest percentage of church attendance for those in the age ranges of 20-44 and also the highest percentage of attenders under the age of 11. For instance, 17 percent of the attenders in the “remoter rural” areas are in the 30-44 age range compared to 14 percent in commuter rural areas and 15 percent in inner cities.
Because rural churches are generally small, they usually have one minister looking after several parishes and, thus depend on lay leadership–”which many of those in their 20s and 30s are prepared to offer. As a result some remoter rural churches are growing quite fast. The Census showed that almost a quarter, 24 percent, had grown in attendance in excess of 33 percent over the seven year period….” The newsletter comments that in very rural areas the church and the school still form the center of the community, drawing incoming Christians to these congregations. (Quadrant, Vision Bldg., 4 Footscray Rd., Eltham, London SE9 2TZ)