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Does it matter if not many people go to church?

Date: 22 October 2012

The Revd Canon Robert Cotton, rector of Guildford's Holy Trinity and St Mary's churches, urges churchgoers to love their local community and recognise a calling to help others in his new book published by SPCK this month.

Reimagining discipleship: loving the local community focuses on various aspects of strengthening community life: valuing volunteers, exercising inclusive leadership, and rejoicing in responsibility as opportunity rather than burden.

Robert, who wrote this book after SPCK, looking for a ‘new voice’, liked his blog on the parish website, uses many observations from his minstry in Guildford to make points that are valid everywhere.

Perhaps his most radical question is: does it matter if not many people go to church? He suggests that maybe it doesn’t, as long as those who do go to church – the disciples - remain faithful and provide an example of Christianity, and believe on behalf of other people.

Churchwarden Mary Alexander said: "Robert encourages the disciples to be active, living their faith, and being an example to others. He knows from his work in Guildford that non-churchgoers appreciate the disciples being there, but don’t necessarily want to join in.

"For him, people are hugely important, and I believe there are insights for everyone in the book. Christians will find inspiration in it, and non-Christians will find a wise and humane description of Christian behaviour and belief: loving the local community."

Everyone is invited to an informal evening of light refreshments to mark the book's launch on Tuesday 23 October, St Mary’s Church, Quarry Street 1730 – 1900h. The event is part of the Guildford Book Festival and copies of the book will be available for a discounted £10 (usual price £12.99).

For a review of the book visit

Reimagining discipleship: loving the local community is published by SPCK, 2012. ISBN 978-0-281-06719-0. For more details contact Parish Office, 5, Trinity Churchyard, Guildford, GU1 3RR, 01483 567716.

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“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;

it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31

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