THE Back to Church Sunday campaign has become so successful that
its organisers are marking its tenth anniversary by extending it to
a whole season of invitations.
The Season of Invitation begins with the now traditional Back to
Church Sunday in September, followed the next month by Harvest
Festival, then the Remembrance Day service in November, and Advent
in early December, culminating in Christmas.
Since Back to Church Sunday started, in 2004, more than 260,000
people have accepted an invitation from a friend; but research
suggests that, if the invitation is repeated, the guest is more
likely to keep coming.
The Rt Revd Paul Bayes, the Bishop-elect of Liverpool and part
of the campaign's leadership team, said: "People may be nervous;
the person who's asking may be nervous. If we have a Season of
Invitation, Christians will become more confident to invite, and
the people they invite will come more often, and, who knows, they
may stick with the faith.
"Invite your friends to Church on these five moments in this
particular part of the year, and we believe it will make a big
difference. Share your faith with them . . . and the Church will
The campaign has produced packs of invitation cards for adults
and children, and calendars and posters. It is also offering
training sessions for people wanting to make the most of the
Clintons count their cards.
Traditional seasons for sending greetings cards are changing,
the card retail chain Clintons suggests. Last year, cards
celebrating Eid, Diwali, and the Chinese and Jewish New Years all
sold more than those for Hallowe'en, St David's Day, and St
Clintons also reported that demand for same-sex wedding cards
since the ceremony's legalisation in March was 60 per cent greater
than sales of cards for civil partnerships at the same point last
There was a 48-per-cent increase in the buying of 95th-birthday
cards in the past year, and a 22-per-cent increase in the sending
of 100th-birthday cards.
A director at Clintons, Tim Fairs, said: "We are seeing
different types of celebrations and festivals becoming increasingly
mainstream. We . . . look forward to seeing what new occasions give
rise to celebration in the next few years."