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Engagement with Children and Young People

Volume 740: debated on Thursday 16 November 2023

2. What recent progress the Church of England has made on increasing engagement with children and young people. (900086)

My hon. Friend is right to focus on the importance of this issue. The Church of England is working hard to create a church that is younger and more diverse, doubling the number of children and young active disciples by 2030. More than £60 million has been awarded to five dioceses to achieve that.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be at the patronal service where 12 young people from St Mary’s church in Kenton and St Lawrence’s church in Stanmore were confirmed in the Church of England. That demonstrates that young people are attracted to the church, but what more can my hon. Friend—and the Church—do to attract younger people to come into the church and fulfil their destiny?

I am delighted to learn about the good work at St Mary’s Kenton and St Lawrence’s Stanmore, where 12 young people were recently confirmed. The good news is that the £60 million is being well spent, and is producing promising results across the Church of England. We need to see a lot more of it.

Whenever I was a child in the ’60s—it wasn’t yesterday—every child in Ballywalter attended Sunday school meetings. Today, it is a different generation. National Sunday attendance figures for under-16s have dropped below 100,000 for the first time. I understand that the Church is reaching out to young people, but perhaps we need to reach out a wee bit differently. What plans are there to do that?

As always, the hon. Gentleman is on the money. I can tell him that the Church’s strategic mission and ministry investment board is doing exactly that: investing in a range of different organisations that are connecting really well with young people, often through community projects. Large numbers of them are coming to church and staying there, which is brilliant.