Peter Bri­er­ley

The Church of England - - SUNDAY -

The Ortho­dox con­tinue to grow! The num­ber of “ac­tive mem­bers” of the var­i­ous Ortho­dox churches will prob­a­bly ex­ceed half a mil­lion in a few years’ time – big­ger than the Methodists (which are de­clin­ing) and larger than the com­bined num­bers in the New (or House) Churches, which are also grow­ing. How­ever, they are less than the to­tal num­bers of Pen­te­costals who are now the third largest de­nom­i­na­tional group in the UK (af­ter the Ro­man Catholics and the Angli­cans).

Both the Ortho­dox, which have roughly dou­bled since the year 2000, and the Pen­te­costals, which have roughly tripled in the same pe­riod, have in­creased for the same rea­son – large num­bers of Chris­tian im­mi­grants, or at least im­mi­grants com­ing from nom­i­nally Chris­tian coun­tries. Some, like the Ro­man Catholics, have been es­pe­cially wel­com­ing to im­mi­grants from cer­tain coun­tries. For ex­am­ple, the Catholics have started over 35 chap­lain­cies in the last few years in the Dio­cese of West­min­ster alone, each min­is­ter­ing to a par­tic­u­lar lan­guage, na­tion­al­ity or eth­nic group. The Pen­te­costals have grown mainly be­cause of the large num­bers com­ing from Africa, es­pe­cially Nigeria and Ghana.

The Ortho­dox growth is also mostly due to im­mi­gra­tion but has been more mixed. There are three broad groups of Ortho­dox Chris­tians, the East­ern, the Ori­en­tal and the Oth­ers, which in 2013 were re­spec­tively, 91 per cent, eight per cent and one per cent of the to­tal of 460,000 UK Ortho­dox mem­bers. Of these, over five-sixths, 86 per cent,

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