Church bells rang throughout Tamaqua Thursday at 6 p.m. Community and church members joined with Tamaqua Mayor Chris Morrison outside the Tamaqua Train Station as he read a Tamaqua proclamation announcing September 15 as Tamaqua Area Faith Fellowship Network's (TAFFN) National Back to Church Sunday.

TAFFN and its participating churches are among 21,206 churches recognizing and promoting the worldwide movement. That number is up from 13,150 last year.

"National Back To Church Sunday began as a movement to invite everyone in America back to church by empowering and motivating church members to invite their family and friends to come with them to a special service hosted by the local church," said TAFFN member George Taylor, who said the local movement was put together with support from all TAFFN members and area churches.

During the announcement, Taylor mentioned a number of related facts from the movement's website (BackToChurch.com).

"Most Americans have been to church, and yet only 20 percent are regular attendees," said Taylor. "82 percent of the unchurched are likely to attend church if invited by a trusted friend or relative. Only 2 percent of church-going people invite someone to church in a given year, meaning that 98 percent of church goers never extend an invitation in a given year."

The movement's interactive website adds that a study including more than 15,000 adults revealed that about two-thirds are willing to receive information about a local church from a family member, and 56 percent from a friend or neighbor.

It adds that 41 percent of the former church members said they would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them. Back to Church Sunday can be implemented year-round.

"I encourage everyone the community to come out to church every Sunday," said Morrison, who praised TAFFN for its community involvement and dedication.

"The movement was created to help the church reach the formerly churched by inviting them to attend a service, as well as build and foster relationships between churches and communities," said Taylor.