Amidst all the handwringing about the future of the Church of England, attendance at cathedral services is up. Yes, up, and notably so.
The linked article cites a desire of anonymity among other factors for the increase, and that might be so. But I think something more fundamental might be happening.
People desire beautiful worship with reverent traditional liturgy, excellent choirs, and a stately setting. And cathedrals are among the chief places to experience that.
In the past, I’ve seen all the empty seats at such excellent services and thought the English do not appreciate what they possess. Perhaps that is changing?
Indeed, when friends and I worshipped at Ely Cathedral on a Sunday morning late this Spring, we arrived a bit late (not on purpose) and found we had to sit way back even though the service was in the nave. Ely is a very small town, yet their cathedral is indeed well attended. And understandably so given the excellent choir and setting. That weekend we were also surprised by the lines to get into the Chapel of King’s College Cambridge (which is not a cathedral, of course, but also excels in glorious worship).
Beautiful worship can be an important way of evangelism. Perhaps we are seeing that in England. Let us pray so at least.