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Reform Magazine | November 29, 2023

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Singled out

Singled out

Is your church welcoming to unmarried people? Are you sure? Catherine Francis considers the hidden pain of singles in the Church – and why it matters

Single people feel isolated, lonely and ignored in their churches, and many have given up on Church altogether. That’s the worrying conclusion of a major study by Single Friendly Church.

The feedback given by over 3,000 unmarried churchgoers – the largest ever survey of single Christians in the UK – makes for sobering reading. More than a third of respondents (never-married, divorced and widowed people) felt they were treated differently to people in couples. One in four said they often felt ‘inadequate or ignored’ and 43% said their churches ‘didn’t know what to do with them’. Many said they felt more valued outside the Church than within it.

Recent decades have seen a major societal shift towards singleness in the UK. However, many churches have failed to keep up with the changing needs of their congregations. This has led to a drift away from the Church by this growing section of the population, particularly in the 25 to 39 age range. In this age group, 13% of married adults in society attend church at least once a month but only 5% of single people attend church (according to a YouGov survey). …

Catherine Francis is Writer-editor for Single Friendly Church, based at United Reformed Church House, London. For more information, advice and resources, visit


This is an extract from an article that was published in the July/August 2018 edition of  Reform

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