A former nurse from Hampshire has found friendship and happiness since returning to the church she used to attend
Louise Hudson enjoys church so much that she really wishes she’d gone back earlier.
She hadn’t been for 20 years before returning to Hart Plain Church in Waterlooville last September.
Now Louise has joined the choir and a house group, she’s enjoying reading the Bible and feels closer to God. She also has a new network of friends.
“Since coming back to church, I just feel more positive,” said Louise. “I feel calmer, I don’t feel on my own as much and if I’m having a bad day, I know that Jesus is there and that I can read the Bible and that will help me.”
The 48-year-old mother of three had been to Hart Plain Church for six months in 1990. She’d worked as a nurse at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth for 20 years before becoming ill with ME in August 2007.
Louise spent four months being unable to get out of bed and another year being largely housebound. She still needs a stick to walk.
During that time, she thought more about faith and bought a Bible. And last August she first saw publicity for Back to Church Sunday and heard Aled Jones talking about it on BBC Radio 2.
“I decided that I would go back, and I popped into Hart Plain Church during the week to check they were doing it that Sunday,” she said. “I was worried because I went in on my own, but people recognised me from 20 years ago – and from work. They were really welcoming. The service was more modern, which I liked.
“I started going every week, and after two or three weeks the vicar gave me a more modern Bible as I was finding mine difficult to read. I’d been back at church for a month before my daughter noticed I was missing every Sunday morning!
“It does brighten up my Sunday – so much so that I thought: ‘What a waste of 20 years. I could have had all this friendship and happiness for all of that time.’ I had thought that people would judge me, but in fact nobody does.”
(With thanks to The Diocese of Portsmouth)
‘It changed the way I thought about church’
When Marion Kellow was invited to church by her friend Anne, she thought, 'Why not?'
"I don’t think I have ever been to a church service where I have laughed so much.”
After attending Back to Church Sunday at St Mary's Haversham in Oxford Diocese, Marion went on one of their Alpha courses. Back to Church Sunday changed the way she thought of church.
“Churches to me were always cold, severe places in many ways, where you went and got preached at and told off on a Sunday – it wasn’t much fun. Now it’s different. There's a variety of speakers and approaches. It’s very welcoming. I don’t remember church being like that in my youth.”
Marion encourages those who've also stopped going to church or have never been to church to 'give it a try and go with an open mind'.
“There are many different forms of church. If you don’t like the first one you go to, go to another one. If you go with a friend it’s likely that if your friend likes it, you will too.”
“Back to Church isn't rocket science. It is, however, a way of putting a booster behind the welcome we offer people, and turning mission into less of a specialism. It turns evangelism into a simple invitation that any churchgoer can ask their friend or neighbour – ‘Will you come to church with me on Sunday?’”
The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield
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