The Anglican Church in the northern hemisphere could face “catastrophic” decline within 10 years as the “cheese sticks and coronation chicken” generation of older women die, stark new research concludes.
A largely unsung army of dedicated lay women born in the 1920s and 1930s and coming of age around the time of the Second World War, could prove to be the “last active generation” in the Church of England and its sister churches in countries such as the US and Canada, it finds.
She adds: “Generation A is irreplaceable and unique … when this generation finally disappears within the next five to 10 years, its knowledge, insights and experiences will be lost forever.”
Crucially, she concludes, that the real root of the Church of England’s demise is not its failure to attract 21st century young people, but a failure by the oldest generation to retain their own children in the church.
“Counterintuitively, the church’s emphasis on attracting young people has been wholly misplaced: it is the ‘middle’ generation they should have retained, the baby-boomer sons and daughters of Generation A who left in large numbers and, in turn, failed to socialise their children into churchgoing beliefs and behaviours.”
She remarks: “Generation A is unique and its passing signals an inevitable acceleration of the decline of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion of the global North … [it] may well be the final active generation in the Church of England and, potentially, in wider sections of ‘mainstream’ Christianity that have depended on their labour.”