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Still welcome

11 October 2013

AT LEAST one priest finds that most people are delighted to see him when he knocks unexpectedly on their door - "only very few pretend to be out." Before his Back to Church service, the Revd Christopher Robinson visited more than 300 houses in the village of Rattlesham, in the diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich. He tells me that not only was he almost always well received, but was invited into about a third of them for a long chat.

When it came to Back to Church Sunday, which they held on 22 September, the usual congregation of 40 swelled to 140, although, he says, only a few of those were as a direct result of his visits - most of them were friends and neighbours brought by the congregation. The next week, however, the congregation still numbered 60, and he thinks that about ten new people will become regulars.

But he believes that all that visiting was a worth while thing to do. "A lot of people feel that church is a bit of an exclusive club, but that just isn't the case." They need the assurance that there is "no dress code, and no experience necessary". Inviting people to church, he says, "is a good opportunity to meet people, and to get to grips with what is still a fairly new area for me, having been here less than a year.

"But, in another way, it is one of the central parts of what I am called to do - not push religion at people, but to invite people to come and experience something of the God who loves us."

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