Reflections on Back to Church Sunday

Published October 5, 2010

Greetings, Earthling: Diocese of Toronto Suffragan Bishop Philip Poole invites commuters back to church. Photo: Michael Hudson

Back to Church Sunday is based on one simple idea: encourage parishioners to invite a friend to come to church with them. 

This year, the dioceses of Qu’Appelle, Niagara, Toronto and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island participated on Sept. 26. The Anglican Journal asked them to tell us about their experiences. 

Every Sunday needs to be ‘Back to Church Sunday!’

The Rev. Brian Galligan and Tracey Hand-Breckenridge, St. Alban the Martyr Anglican Church, Acton, Ont., diocese of Niagara.

The campaign was a great success. This highlighted the importance of intentionally inviting people. It has also emphasized the need to be welcoming, inclusive and hospitable to all visitors, at all times. Every Sunday needs to be “Back to Church Sunday!”  

The first to sign up

The Rev. Arran Thorpe, All Saints Anglican Church, Bedford, diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

All Saints Bedford saw a three-fold increase in attendance. Many have expressed to me how proud they were to be a part of the successful “Back to Church Sunday.”  We will be among the first parishes to sign up again.

A positive response around the diocese

The Rev. Malcolm French, St. James the Apostle Anglican Church, Regina, diocese of Qu’Appelle.
The highest attendance bump I’ve heard reported was 41 per cent above the average Sunday attendance so far this year.  

The theme was ‘hope’

The Ven. Tricia Ingram, St. Thomas Church and St. James Church, parish of Musquodoboit.

Many newcomers were in attendance. We enjoyed a spirit-filled service with lots of children and young people.  The worship theme was hope.


The Rev. Dr. Michael Mondloch, rector of Grace Anglican Church, St. Catharines, Ont.

We welcomed 21 visitors to Grace Church. I was very pleased with the energy and enthusiasm and anticipate building on the success.

New eyes

The Rev. Charles Bull, St. Mary’s Aylesford and Christ Church Berwick.   

We had a great Back to Church Sunday! Attendance at St. Mary’s Aylesford increased from 40 in 2009 to 58 this year; and at Christ Church Berwick, that number rose from 37 in 2009 to 71 in 2010. The best part is the shift in congregational culture and a real sense of excitement. People have been challenged to see the church through the eyes of the outsider.

We sowed a seed

The Rev. Christopher (Kit) Greaves, incumbent, St. John’s Bowmanville, Ont.; regional dean, Durham-Northumberland.

It was interesting with memorable moments. We prayerfully sowed a seed.

Prayers on the GO

Canon Margaret Murray, St. George’s Anglican Church, Georgetown, Ont.

The clergy of our five parishes offered commuters a granola bar stapled to a booklet that had prayers and reflections for every GO station between Georgetown and Toronto.

A wonderful day

The Rev. Bahman Kalantari, rector, St. John’s Anglican Church, Burlington, Ont. 

St. John’s Burlington was full, our choir was robed and in great voice, and our parish family was full of its usual warmth and welcome. As an added blessing, a family spoke to me about having their baby baptized at St. John’s. 

Like this every Sunday? 

The Rev. Ellie Clitheroe-Bell, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Smithville, Ont.

We had about 100 people, even children invited friends. Normally, we would have about 50 people. One of our children said: “Rev. Ellie, can church be like this every Sunday?”

Love and hospitality

The Rev. Suzanne Craven, Church of the Epiphany, Oakville, Ont.

The atmosphere seemed charged with love and hospitality, over and above the norm.  God has been watering those seeds, and I’m confident that people will come, in God’s time. 

Not just one day

Pamela Angus, rector’s warden, All Saints Anglican Church, Erin, Ont. 

This initiative is just a start. We’re all saying we’ll do follow-ups. It’s not just a one-day thing.

Baby steps

The Rev. Pamela Guyatt, rector, St. James Anglican Church, Merritton, St. Catharines, Ont.

We had one new person, but I had conversations with at least 10 others who had made the effort [to invite a friend]. Baby steps, as they say.  

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