2aa0fff7182866515fba2f24f9d6ead2acd22299The Church of England must face the “urgency of the challenge” of dwindling attendances, an ageing clergy and uncertain finances, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said ahead of a meeting of the body’s leadership next month. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, also said the Church must raise its social media and digital presence if it is to grow. “The urgency of the challenge facing us is not in doubt. Attendance at Church of England services has declined at an average of one percent per annum over recent decades and, in addition, the age profile of our membership has become significantly older than that of the population,” they said in a joint statement. “Finances have been relatively stable, thanks to increased individual giving. This situation cannot, however, be expected to continue unless the decline in membership is reversed.” The Church of England owns thousands of old buildings, but with falling visitor numbers, the burden of their upkeep “weighs heavily”, Sentamu and Welby said. More