Diocese of Gloucester solving the challenge of decline in church funerals

Published: Tuesday December 5, 2023

Coffin in a hearseNationally, the number of Church of England funeral services has declined by a further 19% since 2018. Yet, the Diocese of Gloucester may be one of the only dioceses in the country to have solved the problem of declining funeral numbers, claims Nick Partridge, Diocese of Gloucester Funerals Lead.

Nick shares how the Diocese of Gloucester Funeral project has been supporting churches and funeral directors, reaching increasing numbers of people following a bereavement.

“Research shows that funeral directors greatly value an efficient and speedy response to all funeral enquiries, so if churches are slow to respond, funeral directors will often favour using civil celebrants to lead services. Diocese of Gloucester Funerals is a diocesan scheme assisting funeral directors to book a Church of England funeral service quickly and efficiently, whether held in a church or a crematorium, as well as handling all the necessary administration and invoicing.

“Funeral directors have a single point of contact, either by telephone or email, to arrange the details of a funeral service, no matter where it takes place in the Diocese. When they call us, our administrators aim to provide the date, time and the name of the funeral minister leading the service within 24 hours.

“If a minister is not available to lead a service, for example at busy times of the year, during holidays or illness, or if a benefice is in vacancy, we can also provide ministers to cover funeral visits and services.

“Once the initial arrangements have been made, invoices are sent to funeral directors about a week before the funeral service. Funeral directors can simply make one payment to the DBF (Diocese Board of Finance), rather than to individual parish bank accounts. The DBF sends the parish-related funds to the parish after deducting the DBF-related fee.

Everyone is entitled to have a Church of England funeral service in their local parish church, irrespective of whether they attended church or not

“Nationally, the proportion of funerals led by Church of England ministers has been falling rapidly over the past 20 years. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of Church of England minister-led funeral services taking place throughout the Diocese was declining at an average rate of 4.5% per year.

“However, since 2019, the benefices where Diocese of Gloucester Funerals is active have experienced a dramatic turn-around in the number of Church of England funerals.

“In 2022, an additional 300 Church of England minister-led funeral services took place in our partner churches compared to 2018, the year before Diocese of Gloucester Funerals started. This means that almost 15,000 additional people heard a Christian message of hope at a time of loss in 2022.

“If the project could be extended to work with all the benefices in the Diocese, then this number could be doubled to 30,000 additional people. An additional 3,000 ‘close contacts’ per year could receive in-depth pastoral care at a time of bereavement.”


If your benefice / parish would be interested in joining the Diocese of Gloucester Funerals, please contactku.gr1708616262o.coi1708616262dsolg1708616262@slar1708616262enufr1708616262etsec1708616262uolg 1708616262  or  07742 700 319.


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