The Church of England has announced that September 26 would be Back to Church Sunday as part of their Missing You campaign. In efforts to reach out to those who have stopped attending regularly, the church is marking the 26th as a day that church members may return for service guiltlessly.
As part of the Churchs marketing campaign, an online survey was sent out to former churchgoers asking them why they stopped attending and what would bring them back. Among the questions asked were: Why did you leave church, What would help you to try church again, and Do you consider yourself to be Christian. But no matter the reason individuals stopped attending, whether from of a move or they clashed with someone from the congregation, the Church is armed with welcome packs and chocolate to embrace those who take advantage of Back to Church Sunday.
The event is backed by over 150 churches around the nation of England, and the event is being championed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Reverend Nigel McCulloch. Speaking at St. Anns Church where the campaign was officially launched, Bishop McCulloch said it was important for the church to move with the times, referring to the online survey. He hoped that the technology would be effective in spreading the message of the church and that people would gain open hearts to adopt a more faithful life.
"People are far more critical these days and want to be engaged and believe that faith matters. We launched the `Missing You' campaign a year ago to show those who maybe no longer come to church that this is the case and to give them a reason to come back.
"Back to Church Sunday will be a reflection of the work done in the last year but also the start of the beginning of what we are trying to achieve. We welcome anyone to come to church, but the campaign is focusing mainly on getting those aged 50 or over to come back."
Alison Green, a 41 year-old nurse, responded in the survey that she stopped attending church in her early twenties because the church failed to inspire her. However, following the christening of her son Thomas last year, she re-considered her long standing views about church. Today, she regularly attends St. Elizabeths in her hometown of Horwich, Bolton.
She said: "I feel happier and more peaceful than ever before I'd encourage anyone who may no longer go to church to take part in the Back to Church Sunday event."
With Back to Church Sunday a week away, church ministers will soon know how successful their campaign was.