19 September 2006
Sweet temptation for returning worshippers.
People are inviting friends and family to join them in church on Sunday, September 24th as part of Back to Church Sunday.
Returnees will receive a warm welcome and free chocolate – all part of the special day.
Hundreds of churches across the Dioceses of Derby, Ripon and Leeds, Manchester, Wakefield, Oxford, Guildford, Hereford, Blackburn, Sheffield and individual churches around the country have taken delivery of their Back to Church Box.
Resources include invitations, posters and banners bearing the love-heart logo and the message ‘wish you were here’.
Churchgoers will use the resources to advertise the day and invite family and friends who have lost touch with church.
Gifts for newcomers include a goody bag with brochures featuring different aspects of church life – and a free bar of Traidcraft fair trade chocolate.
Researchers at the University of Staffordshire will measure the responses from people returning to churches and build up a picture of how and why people reconnect with church after a time away.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer said: “People lose touch with church for all sorts of reasons. But we know some are looking for a way back to church and a personal invitation can make all the difference.”
One person who came back to church last year was Stuart Dormand, 24, from Wakefield. Stuart got to know Elsie when they worked together in Leeds and she invited him to come back to church with her. Stuart had sung in the church choir as a boy, but he’d never considered church was for him until Elsie invited him.
Stuart found the church, Christ Church, South Osset in the Diocese of Wakefield, warm and welcoming.
He said: “Going back to church for me was the best decision I have ever made – I really love it. I would never even have considered it without the invite from Elsie.”
Peter Collins, Traidcraft’s head of church relations said:
“People in churches have been at the forefront of Traidcraft’s work around the world for years: helping people to help themselves. So it is with this gift of chocolate - it’s a gift that makes a difference for good.”
Back to Church Sunday was first trialed in the Diocese of Manchester in 2004, when more than 900 people came back to church. In 2005, the Diocese of Wakefield joined in with similar results. Downloadable images and stories are available.
Traidcraft was established in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty. It works with people of all faiths by trading with them directly, supporting them with training and information, and by influencing policy makers to pull down the barriers which stop the poor enjoying their fair share of world trade.