More than a third of non-Christians (34 percent) now agree that local churches are making a positive difference in their community – up from 20 percent three years ago. During this time the overall share of UK adults who think churches are helping their community has gone up from 35 percent to 42 percent, with just 24% disagreeing, according to a study by Savanta ComRes.
The research, commissioned by YourNeighbour – a network of more than 1,000 churches across over 40 denominations – and the children’s charity World Vision, found people had clear ideas about how churches could help meet needs in their communities.
They said churches could provide events for the elderly (24 percent), homeless services (also 24 percent), shelter for the homeless (22 percent) and the collect and distribute food, clothes and toys (20 percent).
The findings come as churches across the denominational divide have joined together to help people get through the pandemic by supporting the Give Hope campaign.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove praised the contribution of churches as the country battles Covid-19, saying: “The Church has been there for all of us – it’s been burying our dead, it’s been comforting the bereaved, it’s been feeding the poor and it’s been praying for the nation. And now the Church is determined to play a critical, central and important role in building back better and enabling us to come out of this pandemic and to be a stronger and more united nation.
“I know that there are millions across this country, millions of people whose faith inspires them every day to do more for those around them.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also applauded the contribution of faith groups during the pandemic, saying: “I have been struck by how in this time of difficulty for our country, people have sought solace and hope in faith. It has been wonderful to see how churches have adapted to meet the needs of our communities, with countless examples of them stepping up.
“Now we have the vaccine, it’s a very powerful thing to see churches transforming into vaccine centres, congregations volunteering and leaders offering the hope we need.
People are now more likely not to think that British churches are a force for good not just in their local communities but in the world.
The share of non-Christians who say the UK church is making a positive difference in the world – not just their community – has gone up from 19 percent three years ago to 25 percent. Among UK adults as a whole, the figure has increased from 33 percent to 36 percent, with 29 percent disagreeing.
Pastor Agu Irukwu, of London megachurch Jesus House said: “Tens of thousands of local churches across the UK have been at the frontline of the community response to the Covid pandemic, and it is encouraging to see that the impact of that work is improving public perceptions of the Church. But there is still a lot of work to be done to fully reveal the pivotal role the Church continues to play in modern society.”