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The Rural Church Is Different: the Case of Anglican Confirmation

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This paper explores the different approaches to confirmation displayed by samples of 1,553 rural churches, 983 urban churches and 584 suburban churches. The data demonstrate four distinctive features of confirmation in rural churches. There is a considerably higher number of confirmands per capita of the population. There is a higher proportion of male confirmands. There is a higher proportion of pre-teenage and teenage confirmands. The confirmation of younger candidates in the rural church is associated with some positive signs of church growth. By way of contrast emphasis on confirmation under the age of fourteen years in the urban church tends to be associated with signs of church decline. These findings draw attention to the distinctive experience of the rural church and warn against the uncritical generalisation of pastoral recommendations modelled on urban experiences.

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