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Churches across England are gearing up to bring former churchgoers back to their church and encourage those who have never been to give it a go in a Season of Invitation from the end of September to Christmas this year.

Training sessions led by Michael Harvey, the co-founder of Back to Church Sunday, help people to invite people they know to church.

Since 2004 Back to Church Sunday has helped reach those who had once attended church but whose attendance had lapsed for a variety of reasons. By 2011 around 230,000 had come back to the church as a result of the initiative.

Research indicated that people responded better to a choice of services rather than a single day, so the idea of a Season of Invitation was born.

The season runs from Back to Church Sunday at the end of September and includes services at Harvest, Remembrance Sunday and Advent.

Training sessions are planned for the URC's Yorkshire, North Western and Mersey Synods in September.

Last month, as part of the second annual Lesslie Newbigin Summer Institute programme, the Newbigin Centre for Gospel and Western Culture was officially launched at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. More than 60 people attended the launch event, including academics, leaders in culture, business and church life, and mission partners.

The centre's director, Paul Weston, outlined his vision for the Newbigin Centre at the launch event, explaining how the centre aims to attract research students for MPhil and PhD degrees on themes relating the Gospel and western culture, and to develop resources for the wider Church. The Revd John Proctor, general secretary of the United Reformed Church, also spoke at the event.

Read more: Newbigin research centre now open

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