WORSHIPPERS across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be inviting their friends to join them in the pews Eight parishes across Portsmouth's Anglican diocese will be taking part in Back to Church Sunday 2008.

It's a national initiative based on research that shows millions of non-churchgoers would come to services if invited by friends.

Each parish is given packs of personal invitations, posters and helium balloons, and encouraged to provide a warm welcome to newcomers on Back to Church Sunday - which this year is September 28.

The initiative started in the Manchester diocese in 2004.

This year one parish in each of eight areas covered by Portsmouth's Anglican diocese has been invited to get involved as part of a pilot scheme.

If the trial is successful, other parishes will be invited to take part in 2009.

Among the pilot parishes are Soberton and Newtown, Bishop's Waltham, Holy Rood, Stubbington, St John the Evangelist, Gosport; Shalfleet, Calbourne and Newtown (West Wight), and St John's and Christ Church, Sandown (East Wight) The Back to Church initiative hopes to build on the fact that attendance has risen in Anglican churches in the Portsmouth diocese.

For more information, why not click on backtochurch.co.uk.