Football and the Church come together with the Stags at Back to Church Sunday

editorial image

MANSFIELD Town FC’s chairman John Radford and his wife Carolyn, chief executive, are pictured with the Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt Rev Tony Porter, at St Anne’s Church, Worksop, for Back to Church Sunday.

The couple were joined by Mansfield Town players and 60 people came back to church after being invited especially for Backtochurch Sunday.

The Bishop talked about his favourite hymns and songs, with a link to sport.

Vicar at St Anne’s, the Rev Simon Cash said: “Back to Church Sunday provided us with an opportunity as a church to send out invitations to people who we had not seen for a while to come back to church. It is always nice to receive an invitation of any kind and we were delighted when so many people accepted the invitation to come along.”

Simon said in addition to the 60 extra adults at the service there had been about 35 children who were new to church and he also said that some of the newcomers had signed up to join a course introducing them to the Christian faith.

Back to Church Sunday began in Manchester in 2004, spread to Wakefield Diocese in 2005, nine dioceses in 2006, 20 in 2007, 38 in 2008, and all 44 in 2009, when an estimated 82,000 people came back to church across the UK.

The Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham has been taking part in Back to Church Sunday for the past five years. The event has also been taken up by many of the other main Christian denominations in the UK and by churches across the world, from new Zealand, to South Africa and America. For more details see: www.backtochurch.co.uk

Carolyn said: “We are delighted to pay tribute to the particular mission of Christianity today and to illuminate the value that faith holds within our sporting environment. I often look at the reaction of individuals around the stadium when a goal is scored and witness those pointing skywards attributing credit to a higher belief.

Our club chaplain, the Rev Timothy Mitchell plays a huge role at the club. He guides many of us through the anxiety and stressful nature of the profession. This helps to produce the self-confidence, focus and motivation necessary to perform.

“The nature of the football environment is filled with such extreme highs and inevitable lows. The importance of faith in assisting and sustaining stability within sport cannot be underestimated.”

Bishop Tony said he was pleased that John and Carolyn had accepted his invitation. He said: “I know they will be given a very warm welcome at St Anne’s. With the Olympics and Paralympics this summer we’ve all begun to understand more about the passions and amazing results that sport can bring. It’s great to be able to see football and faith come together for Backtochurch Sunday.”

Over the weekend, Bishop Tony and his wife Lucille were involved in a whole range of events, from breakfast meetings to beetle drives, as the church welcomed in the whole community to begin its centenary year celebrations.