Church of England diocese uses candy to lure back congregants

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2004

LONDON (AP) A Church of England diocese is hoping a sweet tooth will lead some people back to worship on a regular basis.

About 160 congregations in northern England's Manchester area gave out free chocolate bars and other freebies to worshippers on a recent Sunday in a bid to combat dwindling congregations.

The ''Back to Church Sunday'' program is aimed at luring back people over 50 who once attended church regularly but have fallen out of the habit, said the Bishop of Manchester, the Rev. Nigel McCulloch.

Churches in his diocese handed out bags marked ''Missing You,'' filled with posters, candy bars and invitations to join the church.

Churchgoing rates in the United Kingdom have steadily declined since World War II. According to Christian Research, in 1980 there were 4.7 million churchgoers in England, or 10 percent of the population. The figure for 2005 is expected to be 3.3 million, or 6.7 percent.

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