'Back to Church Sunday' Calls Millions in U.K.

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An annual nationwide initiative in the United Kingdom known as "Back to Church Sunday" is inviting half a million people back to church on Sunday, Sep 27.

Last year as a result of the event, 37,000 people took up the invitation to try church again with more than 31,000 of them coming back to an Anglican church.

One of those that came back to church last year was grandmother Lily Goodlad who was invited by her daughter Caroline to attend Holy Trinity church in Wakefield located in northern England.

"I said, 'Come on mom," Caroline said. "Come with us just this one Sunday. And (she) said, 'Oh alright I'll give it a go,' and she felt the warmth and the love from the church right from the beginning like we did."

Caroline said her mother felt "incredibly welcome."

"My mother's been coming to the church ever since that Back to Church Sunday service and that's a huge thing for her because she hadn't been in a church for 40 years," Caroline added. "So for her to be so involved in church is a wonderful thing for my family."

Lily said her experience of returning to church after so many years was life-changing.

"It's made quite a difference to see my grandchildren more often," she said. "It's given me a different way of thinking about life especially at my age when there's all sorts of things to think about. It's given me a different attitude on life."

Now along with Lillian's granddaughters coming to the church, three generations of the family are actively involved in ministering at the congregation in a number of ways.

Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Reverend Paul Maybury, said he is so encouraged to see the difference in the Harrison family and the contribution they now make to church life.

"It's just lovely to see and for them as a family to worship together, to be in church together and join in other activities in the life of the church," he said.

So with the Anglican church still on the decline in the U.K., Back to Church Sunday is certainly making a difference in trying to reverse that trend as seen by the impact on this family.

*Originally aired September 18, 2009

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