WHILE it is often reported that attendance at churches is declining across the country, one in West Swindon is bucking that trend.

Sunday services at the Gateway Church have proved so popular that an extra one has had to be put on to cope with the demand.

Since moving to the Trinity Centre in Westlea in 2006, the church has seen a dramatic increase in attendance.

When they first moved in there were about 100 adults and children turning up – but this has now reached almost 400 every weekend, so there isn’t the space.

As a result, the church has decided to put on two services every Sunday morning starting at 9.30am and 11.30am.

Colin Thornton, the newly appointed team leader at Gateway, said: “It’s so encouraging to see the growth that has been happening here, particularly in the light of headlines that often talk about the church in this country being on the decline and sidelined.

“For the last few years we have had a steady flow of people wanting to explore the Christian message, and find out more about Jesus, as well as people returning to church having been away for a long time.

“The other exciting thing is to see the number of different nationalities we have represented across the church. We believe it’s an important part of being the church that the Bible teaches us to be.”

Colin says there is no specific secret to the increase in numbers to the church, which is a member of the Evangelical Alliance, but believes there are a number of possible reasons.

He said: “Our services we run are quite contemporary. The music and prayers are far more modern.

“When people come to weddings or christenings they often say to us it was not what they were expecting or thought it would be like.

“We run our Alpha course, which looks at the Christian life, and what we have found is a lot of people, often aged from 18 to 40, who are keen to explore the questions of faith.

“They may find the nine to five life does not offer enough and they are trying to find more.

“Also, I think there are simply a lot of people who like the community they live in and are very keen to help others.

“Our Gateway Furniture project, which sees unwanted furniture go to those in need, is popular and I think shows this.”