Credit crunch sees rise in church attendance

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London, Dec 8 (ANI): With the ongoing credit crunch thousands of people are once again turning back to religion, the Church of England has revealed.

The rise in church attendance has been seen all over the country ever since the recession, and church elders believe that the economic downturn meant people are rethinking their values.

In September, when the annual service back to Church Sunday was held, where members of the church are encouraged to invite a friend to a service, 37,000 new congregants attended the service, which was almost twice the number who attended in 2007.Reverend Canon Paul Bayes, the Archbishop of Canterbury's adviser on church growth, responsible for Mission and Outreach, explained that more people were turning to the church because now is a period of reflection.

"People are inclined to look at the church when their life gets a bit of a shock," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"This could be when you have a baby, or get married, or experience the loss of a loved one, and the current economic uncertainties are no different.

"We have two periods where people do this - New Year's resolutions and September when the children go to school. It's a moment to take stock," he said.

He added the invite-a-friend scheme worked because it is so "simple".

"It plays to the love that Christians have for their church, but also the love that they have for their friends. That's why our slogan is 'You're inviting someone you already know to something you already love'," he stated.

Dr John Preston, national stewardship officer for the Church of England and author of several books on Christianity and consumerism, said the recession made people find alternatives.

"The downturn challenges materialism and people are finding meaning in alternatives; for some that's Christianity and God. It's undeniably true that the severity and speed of the economic downturn have challenged a lot of people to ask questions about where they place their trust," Preston said.

"The severity and speed of the economic downturn have challenged a lot of people to ask questions about where they place their trust," a spokesman for the C of E said.

"When life becomes unexpectedly difficult, people naturally ask why, and what they can do about their own lives to improve them.

"The fact that people are more open to going back to church and taking stock may well be down to the economy: anything that shakes the structure of our lives makes us think more about internal things - so if materialism is not the answer, what are the alternatives?

"For some that's a return to the faith they always had; for others it's perhaps an exploration of something they may have unconsciously been groping towards," the spokesman said.

Recent figures suggest that around 1.7 million people attend Church of England church and cathedral worship each month, while around 1.2 million attend services each week - on Sunday or during the week - and just under one million each Sunday. (ANI)

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