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Vicar writes of value of Occasional Offices in church growth coupled with a policy of preliminary thanksgiving service for baptisms
Church of England Newspaper 25th April 2002

Support for occasional offices

Rotherham is bottom of the league for church attendance in the United Kingdom, yet I can confirm the truth of what Peter Brierley (April 12) says about the importance of occasional offices. A few years ago we did a survey and found that one-third of our regular congregation first started coming to church through baptisms, weddings and funerals over a 25 year period.

More recently we have found perhaps 10 per cent of those who come for baptism of their children come to faith and church involvement. We ask everyone first to come to a Thanksgiving Service which includes giving them the Gospel and urging them to read it. We have found the Jesus magazine particularly good. It is in magazine format and includes Luke’s gospel, life stories and historical information. It is produced jointly by Deo Gloria Trust, Jesus Video Project, CPAS, New Start and the Open Book.

Of course, this has to be accompanied by a church that welcomes newcomers, including children. All this has contributed to a church growth of some 40 per cent during the 1990s.

The Rev Patrick Coghlan

St James’ Church and Stepping Stones, Anston

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