Holt Rolls Out The Red Carpet

by Gerry Lynch last modified 28 Sep, 2015 07:50 PM

Wiltshire parish successfully rebrands 'Back to Church Sunday' as 'Red Carpet Sunday'.

A West Wilts parish has rolled out the red carpet for new or returning churchgoers – the Sunday congregation that resulted was over a third larger than average.

St Katharine's Church in Holt enthusiastically keeps Back to Church Sunday but has rebranded it as ‘Red Carpet Sunday’, when they literally roll out a red carpet for people coming to church.

“These days so many people have never had any experience of Church”, said Rector, the Revd Andrew Evans, “so we find that the idea of welcoming them back, doesn’t quite hit the right spot in terms of the message. We had a whole team of our best welcomers on duty to make sure everyone was well looked after.”

As well as rolling out the red carpet, the church offered bacon butties before the morning service. “People said the smell of the bacon went as far as the other side of the village green”, said Andrew

Holt Bacon Buttie2.jpg“Red carpet treatment is usually reserved for royalty and celebrity. Ordinary people walking the red carpet is about telling people they are special and valued. It seems to work really well and that the feedback we receive is really positive. To cap it all we present all the ladies with a red rose.”

The service that followed was informal and all-age. It featured the story of the lost sheep – the message of a God who cares for his lost ones, and doesn’t stop searching until they’re found. The service also featured help being offered to Syrian refugees, and prayer for a young parishioner who is going off to Moorlands College to train as a Youth Worker.

Asked what impact he thought the service would have on people who had never been to church before, Andrew replied, “I’m hopeful that our guests would have come away thinking that here is a group of people who love God, are really welcoming and accepting of everybody, and whose faith is active and changing the world.

“St Katharine’s is a growing church and our usual morning congregation is about 80 and we were delighted to welcome another 30 first-timers on Sunday. This is the 5th time we’ve run this annual event, but this is the first time we’ve offered bacon butties.

“Understanding the extraordinary welcome home God offers to everyone who comes close to Him is the key to extending the kind of welcome we want to offer to all.

Be inspired by fresh ideas on welcoming newcomers back to your Church via the website for A Season of Invitation, the new initiative from Back To Church Sunday.

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