THE Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, is wheeling out his bike on Friday to make a green appeal for people to come back to church as churches across the world gear up to offer a warm welcome to newcomers.
Back to Church Sunday is being held this Sunday, September 27, and Christians are being urged to invite a friend to church on a day when they will not be the only newcomer and churches will be offering extra hospitality and welcome.
Around 37,000 people went ‘Back to Church’ in 2008 and this year all churches in all 44 Church of England dioceses are taking part as well as Anglican churches in Australia, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand.
Bishop David is raising awareness of Back to Church Sunday in Birmingham Diocese with a whistle-stop tour by bike and train of Birmingham, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield. He will visit Birmingham Cathedral, St Alphege Solihull and Holy Trinity Sutton Colfield where bells will be rung to remind shoppers, workers and visitors that they are welcome to give church a try this Sunday.
The theme for this year’s event is ‘Come as You Are’ and many churches across the Diocese will be holding meals after church, offering activities for children and making their services especially newcomer-friendly this weekend.
Bishop David said: “Many people stop going to church for all sorts of reasons but after a while they feel embarrassed to come back. Other people have never gone to church regularly and are daunted by the thought of ancient language, confusing rituals and uncomfortable pews.
“Research has found it is much easier for people to give church a try when they know they will not be the only newcomer in the building. I am confident that people in Birmingham and the surrounding region will find a warm welcome, uplifting worship and space to encounter God, revealed in Jesus Christ.
“We hope that once people have been to church for the first time they will have a taste of something good for their soul and their appetite for faith grows and deepens as they become disciples of Jesus Christ. This is not about filling our pews but growing the group of people in this region who love God with all their heart, all their mind and all their soul and love their neighbour as themselves.”
Bishop David will arrive by bicycle at Birmingham Cathedral at 9 am. He will travel by train to Solihull arriving at St Alphege at 10.15 am. From there he will pedal 12 miles to Sutton Coldfield arriving at Holy Trinity at 12.30p.m
“Travelling by bike and public transport gives me time and space to see people and places that I might not see if I were using my car. We are hoping people will come to our churches next Sunday but we also want to be out and about extending our welcome to people wherever they are.”