Congregations flock back to churches

PUBLISHED: 11:32 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

The Rev Michael Roden

The Rev Michael Roden

CHRISTIANITY appears to be coming back to Comet country with churches in the district reporting increasing congregations. Many churches in the area enjoyed healthy congregations over the Christmas period but the trend also seems to be extended to regular

CHRISTIANITY appears to be coming back to Comet country with churches in the district reporting increasing congregations.

Many churches in the area enjoyed healthy congregations over the Christmas period but the trend also seems to be extended to regular Sunday services.

The Rev Michael Roden, vicar of St Mary's Church in Hitchin, told The Comet he believes that "the tide has turned".

Attendance at the crib and carol services at St Mary's last year was the highest it has been for more than a decade, and Mr Roden says it is not just the festive period calling people to church.

He said: "I think something's happening. I think they're tired of a diet of make-over shows.

"They are fed up with brutal reality TV and they're looking for something deeper where people are being looked after rather than humiliated.

"I think that churches are a community and people are longing for a community again."

Elsewhere in the district, other churches also report growing congregations.

Dave Morris, chairman of Churches Together in Stevenage and senior minister at Bunyan Baptist Church, spoke to some of the church leaders in the town to gauge opinion on the issue.

He said: "I haven't spoken to all of the churches in Stevenage about this, but the ones I have seem to be reporting new people coming to church and buoyant numbers, so there does seem to be a pattern of improvement.

"The church leaders I spoke to talked about spiritual hunger, especially with the uncertainty in the world.

"One said that people are looking for answers. Another leader said people are realising there is more to life than work and shopping."

At his own church, Mr Morris reports large congregations at Sunday services packing out the 200-capacity building.

Over in Biggleswade churches are not reporting such great increases, but the situation still appears to be improving for them.

Martin Dawes, spokesman for Churches Together and minister of the Methodist church, said that churches in the town had seen an increase over the Christmas period, but not dramatically so.

He said: "I think if we'd had a dramatic increase then we might be able to start thinking there's something going on.

"We were obviously genuinely very pleased with the church attendance over Christmas and happy that on the whole congregations had increased.

"It's interesting that in the kind of culture that we live in that all the churches (in Biggleswade) seem to be holding their own, there doesn't seem to be the decline that's in parts of the country.

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