The attendance of Church of England services has dropped to its lowest ever level amid fraught conversations about the acceptance of LGBT people in the church.
Based on an annual count from 2014, Church services showed that 1.4 percent of the population of England had normally attended an Anglican service on a Sunday morning.
For the first time ever, weekly attendance figures, which include mid-week and extra services, also fell bellow a million.
According to a Telegraph report, some reverends attributed the fall in numbers to the ageing population of churchgoers.
Sunday service numbers on average fell to 764,700, dropping by 22,000, or 7% in five years.
The numbers now constitute around a third of those in the early 1960s, reports the Telegraph.
Some church figures said that despite some congregations growing, the numbers were being drastically undercut by the effect of older worshippers dying.
Those within the church hope that, even if figures continue to drop for another five years, there will be an eventual rise.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spoke at an address to international Church figures.
“The culture has becoming anti-Christian, whether it is on matters of sexual morality, or the care for people at the beginning or the end of life,” he said, going on to say: “It is a struggle, but we are not losing.”
Extracts from his address were leaked on the Nigerian Vanguard news website.
He said: “In this country many talk of the post-Christian society, but the Church of England educates more than a million children in our schools.
“We are involved in almost all the food banks as, for the first time since the 1930s, we have hunger in this country. We are still a major part of the glue that holds society together.”
Of same-sex marriage he added: “We are exempted from the Same-Sex Marriage Act, showing that our voice is still heard against the prevailing wind of our society, and at much cost to ourselves, by the way.”
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, told the Telegraph that he thought the numbers were “not in any way a surprise”, but said that it was anticipated and is “being acted on radically”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday conceded he can do nothing to prevent walkouts as he bids to rescue the global Anglican Communion.
This month emergency talks are taking place to try and rescue the Anglican Communion – an international alliance of churches including the Church of England and a number of other Protestants around the world.
However, while the Church of England is relatively moderate when it comes to gay rights, a number of other churches within the global Anglican Communion remain militantly opposed.
There have long been fears that divides the more liberal churches and others within the Communion – particularly African churches who reject the teachings on gay rights – could provoke a schism.