01 September 2008
The Church of England has taken the unprecedented step of taking out advertising space in a major newspaper to soothe commuters travelling into work this morning – as schools and workplaces get back to the daily grind after the summer holiday season. Today (1st September) marks the start of a new season in the workplace and at home, too, according to a new ICM poll.
A survey conducted for the Church of England has found that September heralds a heap of extra pressures for many, with one in three expressing a desire to make changes to improve their lifestyle this autumn, and a similar number stating concerns about their working lives.
The poll of more than 1,000 working UK adults suggests that one in three people are expecting work to be “very busy” over the coming months, and as many as one in eight are “dreading” the prospect of returning to a new season at work. The survey reveals:
- People in the South East appear to be the most stressed out as September kicks in, with 37 per cent anticipating an extra-busy period at work and 35 per cent planning significant improvements to their lifestyle, while the more relaxed Wales and South West reports 30 per cent and 25 per cent respectively;
- Four in ten 18-24 year olds are planning a lifestyle improvement – such as more regular gym trips – suggesting that September may indeed be the ‘New New Year’ for younger people;
- 18 per cent of women are craving the routine that returns with September, while only 12 per cent of men agree.
The results have moved the Church to issue a new prayer on its website, and publish it in a quarter page colour advertisement in Metro, a free daily morning newspaper distributed to around 1.4 million commuters each day.
The prayer asks for God’s help in dealing with everyday concerns of home and professional life, including “love life issues, bills to pay, delicate egos at work to deal with, and an overflowing inbox”. It encourages weary commuters to relish every moment of every day as a gift from God, rather than seeing every day life as a challenge to conquer.
The newspaper advertisement also promotes Back to Church Sunday, an initiative which encourages churchgoers to invite friends and family, who used to go to church but have stopped going for whatever reason, back to church on Sunday 28th September. Church leaders hope that the 32 per cent of those surveyed who said that they saw September’s arrival as a chance to make changes to their lifestyle might consider trying out church again as part of that ‘New New Year’s Resolution’.
Among them is the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd David James. To help spread the message that almost every parish church in the Diocese of Bradford is taking part in Back to Church Sunday, the bishop will greet commuters at Bradford’s Forster Square rail station with a copy of the newspaper this morning.
Bishop David will encourage those returning to work to turn to the prayer as a source of both reassurance and energy: “Now that everyone’s back to the daily grind, the nights are beginning to draw in and there’s not much holiday left before Christmas, life can suddenly seem a lot less rosy than it maybe did a few weeks ago. This prayer aims to show people that God is there for the long haul and always ready to listen. He’s ‘always on’, just like the church is ‘always ready’ to welcome people who are seeking spiritual guidance and a place to explore the difficult questions of life,” he comments.
This year, 38 of the 43 Church of England dioceses from Cornwall to Newcastle will join in Back to Church Sunday, along with Churches Together in Scotland, the Church in Wales, Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed churches nationwide, Elim Pentecostal churches and Anglican churches in New Zealand and Canada.
The prayer printed in Monday’s edition of the Metro reads:
You know me. Don't you? I’m not just a person on a bus or a train.
I’m not just another face on CCTV; or just another login name.
I’m me, and I have stuff going on.
Love life issues; bills to pay. Egos at work to deal with; an overflowing inbox.
So please, give me strength. Guide me to focus on what's really important. And help me make the most of every moment of this new day in this new month.