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c. 2011 Religion News Service

CANTERBURY, ENGLAND (RNS/ENInews) In a challenge to conventional wisdom that church attendance is plummeting across Britain and Western Europe, the Church of England says attendance at its 43 cathedrals grew 7 percent last year.

A report by the Rev. Lynda Barley, head of research and statistics at the Archbishops’ Council, said “attendance at services outside Sundays” was up 10 percent in 2010, and “steady growth” in the past decade “is restoring confidence in mission.”

About 15,800 adults and 3,100 children and young people attend Sunday services at cathedrals; over the course of a typical week, that figure rises to 27,400 adults and 7,600 children.

Following the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at London’s Westminster Abbey (which is not considered a cathedral), the Venerable Simon Burton-Jones, archdeacon for the Diocese of Rochester, told ENInews: “I think we’re going to have to wait a year or so to see just how the wedding impacted on people.”

Lisa Emanuel, a spokeswoman for Canterbury Cathedral, told ENInews that it’s not unusual to welcome more than 20 nationalities at services. “We love sharing this holy and very special place and are delighted with the recent figures released by the Archbishops’ Council,” she said.

Canterbury Cathedral is considered the “mother church” of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, and welcomes more than 1 million visitors every year.

The report said regular cathedral services attracted 2 million people in 2010, while an additional 1.63 million attended about 5,150 public or civic events.

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