Religion: Decline

The pews are hard in London's Westminster Chapel, but the facts faced there last week by 3,000 delegates to the Annual Assembly of the Congregational Union of England and Wales were even harder. Congregationalism, they were told, had declined by 100,000 members in the past 20 years—a third of the total membership. If church reports winnowed out inactive members more strictly, the official membership figure of 240,000 might be even lower.*

To the shocked flock before him, Assembly Chairman Dr. Lovell Cocks, 56-year-old principal of Bristol's Western College, delivered a sizzling fight talk: "Can faith as halting as ours outrun the...