As October draws to a close and November begins, the Church of England will see some of its largest congregations outside of Christmas.
For many this will involve being at events to mark Armistice Day, which this year is also Remembrance Sunday on November 11th. Whether this is a service at a local memorial led by a minister or a large event in a cathedral, many of those who come will be ‘returning’ to church. Many more will attend ‘remembering’ services around All Souls Day, taking time to think of those they grieve in a more personal way.
Research around Life Events showed that attending these kinds of events is valued by families as part of their connection with church, and can be another step on the journey of faith. For bereaved families, the reflective space can be hugely helpful, whether the local minister conducted a recent funeral service, or whether they are remembering someone who shaped their life many years previously.
The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester reflects on how lighting a candle, or simply pausing in the silence, perhaps year after year, might help people:
“I think people will come, and come back again, and then they become part of the church’s story and of Jesus’ story, and they engage in ways that very often we don’t get to see.”
Research with baptism families also showed that Remembrance Sunday is one of the occasions when parents will try to bring children to church, and many more come along as part of uniformed organisations.
One father talked movingly of his memories of big services in a local cathedral, the sense of awe that he experienced, and his desire for his child to discover the same. Taking time to invite families, welcome them well, give them space to explore their own journey of faith and prayer are all important moments. Don’t lose courage! Just ask them to come.