COVID-19 delays date for attendance data until Easter

The completion date for Statistics for Mission data has been put back until Easter 2021 due to the impact on parishes of COVID-19.

Churches are usually asked to complete Statistics for Mission (SfM) by January 31.

Louise McFerren, Senior Statistical Researcher for the Church of England explained: “We do recognise that 2020 has been a very difficult year, we have tried to shorten the form quite a bit and just collect what is essential and/or easy for churches to tell us about.

“We do want to celebrate what they have been doing this year. However, we will understand if churches need a little longer this year.

As usual, the system will finally close for data entry at Easter, April 4, 2021.”

It is advisable that people view/print a copy of the online form available at https://parishreturns.churchofengland.org/ 

If anyone needs to create a login, please contact parishreturns [at] leeds.anglican.org

 

FAQS

 

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 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.

Viewing figures are not asked for 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 interpreting view figures please see “Everybody Welcome Online” (in particular pages 9 and 10) by Ven Bob Jackson and Revd George Fisher for some helpful advice https://cofecarlisle.contentfiles.net/media/documents/document/2020/04/Everybody_Welcome_Online_PDF.pdf

 

We can’t fit as many people as usual into our church building so our Count figures will be lower than usual.

 

Attendance ‘in person’ during 2020 will be 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 NCIs can best know how to support churches and the CofE worshipping community.

The 2020 figures will not be used as part of any measure of growth or decline of local churches.

 

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

 

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 if church buildings are closed over Advent and Christmas?

 

The guidance around church building use is changing constantly, but currently we believe church buildings will be open during 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.

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