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Church of England faces extinction, says cleric

The Church of England will no longer be functionally existent in 20 years' time according to some projections, a General Synod member has said.

The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond, a vicar from Norwich, told members of the Church's national assembly in York that they were facing a "perfect storm" of ageing congregations and falling clergy numbers.

"The perfect storm we can see forming on the far horizon is the ageing congregations we have heard about – average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that," he said. "These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy... 2020, apparently, is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of just natural wastage, that is people dying.

"Another 10 years on, some extrapolations put the Church of England as no longer functionally extant at all."

Andreas Whittam Smith, the first Church Estates Commissioner, added that the demographic "time bomb of 2020" for Anglicans was a "crisis".

Meanwhile, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said schools should apply a Christian perspective to all aspects of the curriculum, including maths.

"The way maths is taught is by and large assuming capitalist economics which we may have questions of," he said. "We need to explore different models from a Christian perspective of how we approach all the curriculum, not just RE."