The Church Urban Fund is a Church of England organisation that seeks to help the most disadvantaged and most marginalised communities in the country. One valuable piece of work it has carried out over the last few years is to map the profile of each and every parish in the country, using key poverty indicators, as well as information about the social and ethnic mix. Of course to a certain extent you can prove anything with statistics, but even with the usual words of caution these indicators give an interesting insight in the places where you live. So you can type any postcode in England into the website and it will give you the information you are looking for.
So what can we learn about St Michael’s and St Barnabas?
There are 12660 parishes in England. The higher the number, the wealthier the parish. So the wealthiest parish in England is at number 1. St Michael’s ranks at number 12125 and St Barnabas at number 10627. This tells us, that however we define poverty, we minister in an area where many of the people we serve face significant challenges.
The figures for our parishes have just been recalculated since they were first worked out just over two years ago. Interestingly this shows that the population for each parish has increased by 500 over this period, or perhaps they have now been more accurately calculated. So the population of St Michael’s now stands at 5520, and St Barnabas at 3740.
Now the figures have been revised, it is interesting to see that ethnic diversity has significantly increased, so that 15% of the population of St Barnabas parish and 10% of St Michael’s parish is classed as non-white British.
If this information is anywhere near accurate, then I believe we need to ask some significant questions about the mission of our two churches – questions with which I know we have already been struggling for a number of years, but which are worth setting down once again.
First of all, how aware are we of the challenges that people face living in the areas that we serve, and what are we called to do as a church?
Secondly, if we were to aim for even only 1% of the parish to attend their local Anglican church, then we have a massive task to undertake in terms of mission and evangelism. What are the most effective ways to reach the vast majority of our parishioners who have no contact with either the Christian faith or the church?
Thirdly, how can we better reflect the increasing diversity of our parish population?
On October 13th we have a joint PCC where we will be welcoming Canon Andrew Godsall who is tasked with helping parishes develop their mission action plans. Everyone is more than welcome to attend. Please do look at our church mission action plan in the meantime.
And if you want to look at the statistics in detail, here are the links: