• The National Church has asked for 2021 statistics to be submitted by the deadline of 31st January 2022.

It's time to begin this year's national review of church attendance and participation through the Church of England's process we know as 'Statistics for Mission', and of course it begins with the famous 'October count' where each church is asked to provide some information about that month's services.

Last year's process was quite different from previous years as the church tried to chart the effects of COVID-19, and this year's 'Stats for Mission' process will still follow that pattern in many ways. In particular, you will see that the long-established 'USA' - Usual Sunday Attendance' - figure is not requested, since probably none of us have had a 'usual Sunday' since early 2020. You'll also be asked about 'Church at Home' again too, in case your church’s online provision has continued into October.

Two suggestions you might like to note:

  • If you have unusual or one-off services in October that may attract a number of visitors (a harvest celebration, perhaps; a large Christening, or a significant anniversary or festival), please mention this in the 'comments' that can be added to online submissions. People are sometimes concerned that the numbers don't present a 'typical' picture, and we'd like to understand too.
  • If you're counting people in a group of (probably rural) churches where you know that a number of people will move from one church in the group to another depending on monthly or weekly service patterns, you can add comments to this effect too; alternatively, if it's easier, you can collect figures at group level, and please explain in the comments that this is what you’ve done - but remember you will still need to enter Electoral Roll and Occasional Offices numbers by individual church.

If you need more clarification or help, do contact Diocesan Information Analyst Anna Berry at anna.berry@yorkdiocese.org or 01904 202567.

A downloadable PDF copy of the form is now available here to help you compile and keep your own record of your returns.

Thank you for your patience, and for taking the time to help us all understand the national picture of the church in this extraordinary year.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I gain access to the CofE online Parish Returns System?

If you don't already have a login please go to this page to find out how to get one.

When will the online form be available?

The form for Statistics for Mission 2021 is now available.

What should we include in “Church at Home”?

As with the previous October Count, the Church at Home question is focussed on worship services, therefore online house groups, youth clubs, Alpha courses, and social events etc should not be included there. There is a comment box should you wish to share with us anything else, aside from services, you have been offering remotely to your congregation.

How do I count Church at Home attendance?

You may be using a number of different ways to engage with people at home, for example YouTube or Facebook. Both platforms offer some viewing numbers and these will give you some indication as to how large your audience is. We’ve not asked for viewing figures directly as these figures are very variable dependent on how the platform is used and for how long and will require some adjustment. For more information on counting ‘Church at Home’ please see https://www.churchofengland.org/about/research-and-statistics/covid19-counting-attendance.

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The pandemic is still having an impact on our attendance, so our October Count figures will be lower than usual.

Attendance ‘in person’ in 2021 may still have been impacted by a variety of complex factors, and therefore will be reported and used carefully and sensitively. It is very helpful to know how many of our national worshipping community are currently attending church buildings in person so that dioceses and the National Church Institutions (NCIs) can best know how to support churches and the Church of England's worshipping communities.

How do I report numbers of people participating in a service live streamed from church in October?

A service live streamed from church in October will be recorded on the form in two places. Those attending in the church building will be counted in the “in person” October count section. Those watching from home via the live stream will be recorded in the “Church at Home” section.

What do I record for Advent and Christmas?

The question on the form is based on the 2019 question so captures “in person” attendance (indoors or outdoors). We will not ask for additional data on those joining in online or through other “Church at Home” means.

What if we joined with other churches to do “Church at Home”?

In this case please all fill in questions 7a, 7b and 8 on the form but only one church should provide a count for question 7c. The other church(es) should leave question 7c blank.