Back to Church Sunday was September 27, 2009.  Whilst this annual attempt to bring back lapsed churchgoers is primarily a UK initiative, this year Canada’s Anglican Church launched it in a big way.

Back to Church Sunday Tony Bock Toronto StarPictured at left is Bishop Linda Nicholls issuing invitations in front of Toronto’s Union Station, which, like many other stations in a metropolis, is packed with commuters.  Some are stressed, some are sarky, some are dog tired.  So, it  takes a certain amount of guts for four bishops to gently greet the public in episcopal attire with a warm smile and an invitation to … church!

I give the bishops a lot of credit in being so up-front about it.  I wonder what would happen if they tried this in the UK.  I’m sure it would offend someone. 

Anyway, The Toronto Star covered the story — excerpts follow:

Most who stopped to chat with the bishops seemed to be regular churchgoers already. Making his way from Whitby to Bay Street via GO Train, Gerald Godinho stopped to debate with Bishop Linda Nicholls about ordaining gay and lesbian priests, a contentious issue that has led various international Anglican Communion members to threaten fissure from the central church.

He said he has invited a friend with him to Carruther Creek Community Church in the past. ‘A single friend of mine, about a year back,’ Gondinho said. ‘I introduced him to the pastor of our youth group and I think he liked it. He lives downtown, so I set him up with Meeting House in Toronto.’

Chartered accountant Bruce Armstrong exclaimed happily at running into Bishop Philip Poole-the two sang in the choir together at Wilfrid Laurier University, back when the school was known as Waterloo Lutheran.

‘I’ve got a spring in my step this morning,’ said Armstrong, who still sings in the choir at his current church, Armour Heights Presbyterian in north Toronto.

A cynic would say they were preaching to the converted.  That may be, but it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the public in a bold way.  I hope they found it worthwhile enough to repeat the exercise next year.

H/T: Anglican Samizdat