Major cities have long been seen as centres of secularisation. However, the number of congregations in London grew by 50% between 1979 and the present. London’s churches have been characterised more by growth than by decline in the decades since 1980. The Desecularisation of the City provides the first academic survey of churches in London over recent decades, linking them to similar developments in other major cities across the West.
Produced by a large team of scholars from a range of disciplines, this volume offers a striking and original portrait of congregational life in London since 1980. Seventeen chapters explore the diverse localities, ethnicities and denominations that make up the church in contemporary London. The vitality of London’s churches in the last four decades shows that secularisation is far from inevitable in the cities of the future.
This study necessitates a significant reassessment of the dominant academic portrayal of Christianity in Britain and the West, which has, mostly, depicted cities as secular spaces within a secularising culture. It will be of great interest to scholars working across a wide range of disciplines, including history, sociology, religious studies and theology.
"This is a fascinating account of religion in a city many observers would have assumed to be irreligious. It is not. The book shows just how vibrant the church-going population has become and gives a subtle, rich account of how it has grown, where it has grown, and why."
– Tanya M. Luhrmann, Watkins University Professor, Stanford University, USA
"While Christianity in the UK as a whole appears to be in decline, in London in the last thirty years churchgoing has risen steadily. Why is this? This brilliant and fascinating book takes us a long way towards an answer. In a series of essays covering themes, particular church communities, and broad trends, Goodhew and Cooper have assembled a team of scholars who open up a challenge not only to conventional views of the actual position of religion in the capital, but also to our understanding of the complex processes through which Christian communities interact with contemporary society. London may or may not be a trend-setter for the future. But anyone who is interested in the nature of contemporary society in Britain, and the place of religion in it, will find much to interest them here. This is a volume of the first importance for understanding religion in Britain today."
– The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, The Master, Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, UK
"In recent decades, Christian churches around the world have gone through a series of startling transformations, which together have confounded many long-standing predictions about the future of faith. In The Desecularisation of the City, a deeply impressive group of scholars surveys these changes as they affect one of the world’s greatest urban centers. The various essays range widely, and the findings are surprising and, often, heartening. This rich and provocative collection should have a powerful impact on the future study of the Christian religion, in Europe and further afield."
– Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History, Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, USA
"This remarkable collection documents the surprising reality that the streets of London are teeming with a cornucopia of communities of faith. Employing surveys and censuses, ethnographic immersion and scraping twitter feeds, this interdisciplinary team has given us both the big picture – innovation, diversity & growth – and an intimate look at this very "desecularized" city."
– Nancy T. Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Boston University, USA
"It is widely assumed that Western Europe is relentlessly pursuing a path of secularisation. This collection of detailed essays on aspects of London churchgoing since 1980, however, raises fundamental questions about that idea. It shows that there were more Christian worshippers in the 2010s than in the 1980s, with the pattern of growth including the Anglicans of the diocese of London. Future studies of Western European religion will have to take account of the desecularisation of Britain’s capital."
– Professor David Bebbington, University of Stirling, UK
"For several years now, London has been the ‘exceptional case’ within British religiosity in general, and Christianity in particular. That something is afoot in a good number of London’s churches has been clear for a while. But what, where, and why it is afoot… that’s something we’ve had to wait until now to find out."
– Professor Stephen Bullivant, Director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, UK
"Traditional wisdom held that religion flourished in the village and withered in the city. But now the rural church is in sharp decline, while church-going (as well as attendance at mosques, temples and synagogues) is highest in the cities, notably London. Mixing thorough analysis of the statistics and lively local case-studies with well-nuanced, though inevitably more speculative, interpretative overviews, this book identifies the varied causes and the possible consequences of this important reversal."
– Hugh McLeod, Emeritus Professor of Church History, University of Birmingham, UK
"Debates about the place of religion in our society tend to be higher in empirical assertions than they are in empirical evidence. This well-researched book confounds a wide array of stereotypes that afflict debates on areas such as secularization, the effect of immigration on the Christian character of England, and the potential for numerical growth in England’s churches."
- Angus Ritchie,The Living Church
Section One: The Desecularisation of the City
1 The Desecularisation of the City: London’s Churches, 1980 to the Present
David Goodhew and Anthony-Paul Cooper
Section Two: Changes in London’s Churches, 1980 to the Present
2 The Demography of Religion in London since 1980
3 The 2012 London Church Census
4 Walking down the Old Kent Road: New Black Majority Churches in the London Borough of Southwark
5 New Churches in Newham
6 Using Geotagged Twitter Data to Uncover Hidden Church Populations
7 Growth and Decline in London Methodism, 1980 to the Present
Section Three: Ethnicity and London’s Churches
8 Mission Out of Africa: The Case of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in London
9 Brazilian churches in London
10 Capital-wide Missions and the Rise of London’s Black-led Churches
11 Demographics and the Russian Orthodox Church in London
Section Four: Denominational Shifts
12 London’s New Churches: The example of the Newfrontiers Network
Sam Jeffery and William K Kay
13 The Diocese of London and the Anglican Church in London, 1980 to the Present
14 Anglican Church Planting in East London, c. 2005-15
15 Visibly Different: Continuity and Change at Westminster Cathedral
Marion Bowman, Simon Coleman, John Jenkins, Tiina Sepp
Section Five: The Wider Historical and Sociological Contexts
16 Church Decline and Growth in London: Taking the Long View
17 London’s Churches: Sociological Perspectives