Response to publication of 2011 Census returns

September 27, 2013

Responding to the publication of the 2011 Census returns in Scotland, the Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church says:

“The figures for religious affiliation in Scotland are a significant challenge for churches.  Nominal membership of traditional churches is swiftly changing into ‘no religion’.

“The reasons are clear.  Traditional patterns of church life have difficulty attracting people in a mobile, fast-changing and increasingly sophisticated society.  Congregations are communities of affection which gather in time-hallowed buildings and they find change challenging.

“But all is far from lost.  A majority of people in this society still identify themselves as Christian.  Their faith, their hopes and their interest are a mission opportunity for open and attractive faith communities which are creatively led.

Rising levels of interest in spirituality – evidenced by growing interest in pilgrimage, prayer and other faith-related activity – show that many people are searching for depth and meaning in their lives.

Many are open to exploring discipleship even if they are unlikely to become church members in the traditional sense.

“Churches need to change and I welcome that.  We need to become more creative and flexible.  We need to think less about surviving and more about thriving.

We need to help people to develop their experience of the spiritual.  And we need to learn to work together in mission to this new kind of society.”