Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tougher times see churches increase attendance

Church flocks are growing as people search for a deeper meaning during the recession.

There's a renewed interest; people are looking for a way forward.

"Instead of consumerism and individualism, which has really consumed us in these last decades, people have been shown the result of all that is to reap this whirlwind around the world and they are looking for something better.

"It's extraordinarily encouraging really."

The church stood for values of community and responsibility and was becoming more confident about communicating that message.

Christmas and Easter were usually quiet times for churches as families went away on holiday, but with budgets tightening many were choosing to stay at home.

There's some indication that people are participating more fully in the life of churches, reconnecting to the churches.

"During times of change people often take time to rethink their priorities and engagements with the community and values."

People were also getting more involved in free church activities and programmes.

In vulnerable areas where many people relied on industries that had closed down, churches were having to significantly increase their pastoral support.

Father John O'Connor, of Our Lady of Victories Catholic church in Christchurch, said Easter had been a "wonderful" time for newcomers as people realised there must be more to life. "Times of hardship wake people up," he said.

Fellow Catholic Father Ray Schmack said numbers at his Holy Cross Chapel in Chancery Lane had been increasing.

"People are disillusioned by materialism, but it's bigger than the recession."

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