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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Sweet temptation back to church
Back to Church Sunday poster
The campaign is aimed at the over-50 age group
The Church of England is launching a pilot scheme to attract people back to church - by offering a bar of fair trade chocolate to every worshipper.

The aim of the "Back to Church Sunday" scheme is to entice lapsed churchgoers into returning to the congregation.

About 70,000 invitations have been sent to former churchgoers in Manchester.

The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, says the church is trying to bring "justice and fair trade across the world".

Sunday's services were having a harvest festival or thanks-giving theme and goodie bags with bars of fair trade chocolate were being handed out.

The Church of England wants to see greater flexibility with more services taking place in the week.

It is also asking people who have given up the church to suggest what might encourage them back.

Bishop McCulloch told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme the chocolate was not a gimmick.

He said: "When people come and receive the chocolate they discover it is not just a gimmick, it's not an ordinary kind of chocolate fondant. This is a piece of fair trade chocolate.

"The point then to make is that church isn't just about going to a cosy club, it's about belonging to an organisation which has a job of trying to bring justice and fair trade across the world."

The campaign is being studied by researchers at the University of Wolverhampton, to find out how effective it is.

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