The number of British Quakers is falling, according to new figures released by Quakers in Britain. Although the number of members has been in decline for many years, the fall in the number of attenders is a change after a few years of growth.
The figures have been revealed in the 2012 tabular statement, an annual count of the number of Quakers in Britain. Membership now stands at 13,906. The number of members has fallen every year since 1990, when there were 18,084 Quakers in Britain.
The number of attenders is now 8,681 down 30 from 8,711 in 2011. Although it is a minor decline it comes as the amount spent centrally on promoting Quakerism rose from £1,58,000 in 2011 to £1,765,000 in 2012. According to the trustees’ financial statements “promoting Quakerism is defined in Quaker faith & practice as raising awareness and developing understanding within and without Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) concerning the basic tenets of Quaker faith and practice such as spirituality, peace and human rights.”
The most recent lowest figure for attenders was 8,017 in 2008 and the number had grown steadily to 2011’s figure.
In 2012 355 adults became members.
In 2011 the number of male and female attenders was recorded for the first time in the tabular statement, as opposed to a single figure not divided by gender. The figures show that the number of male attenders fell by 5 from 3,339 to 3,334 and female attenders went from 5,372 to 5,347 between 2011 and 2012.
The number of men in membership currently stands at 5,202 and there are 8,661 women in membership.
The figures will give impetus to the new ‘vibrancy in meetings’ initiative that Quakers in Britain are developing.
The number of children involved in Quaker meetings has also fallen, with just 43 children now in membership and another 2,004 children connected to Quaker meetings. However, the fall in the number of children is most startling of the three categories of children, adult members and adult attenders. The number of children in Britain Yearly Meeting has fallen to just 38% of the 1990 numbers, while adult membership is at 78% of the 1990 figure and attender numbers are relatively buoyant at 99%.
The 2012 tabular statement shows that 324 members died, 118 had their membership terminated on their own initiative and 122 had their membership terminated at their meeting’s initiative.