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Other single people in church. This is number one in the top 10 aspects of church life appreciated by single Christians.  The list also includes social events, groups, single leaders as role models and including singleness in prayers and preaching.

The aspects are listed below, in order of frequency, with a selection of comments from the people who took part in our survey.

1. Other single people in church

By far the biggest specific aspect of the church was other single people with whom respondents could identify. This made them feel less 'an oddity'.

'Other single people who know what you are gong through but also provide a natural social group where you don't need 'another half'.' (29)

'I have met other single friends who have been a great support.' (979)

'My church is a good place for single Christians because there are so many of us!'

'It's good only because the majority are singles.'

'Since my husband left me and I am single, I have found I have made friends with other single women, mostly divorced. It feels like we can just be and not need to explain everything.'

'Lots of other singles. Less pressure to get into relationships. Less privileging of the family. Recognition of the vocations of single persons. Valuing of deep friendship.'

'Quite a few singles there already.'

'There are lots of single women in the church, so you can have a good social network.'

2. Social events and activities

The second specific area was the presence of socials, so that people could attend if wanted.

'Regular socials.'

'Effort made to be invited out to meals, socials, etc, that do not consist entirely of people in relationships.'

'We have a LOT of socials relevant to different age groups. We always have after parties, we always hang out after the service, we have evenings such as ''come dine with me'', where we go to a random person's house and enjoy food with other guests we've never met before!'

'Social events and meetings.'

3. Single leaders as role models

People appreciate the nature of the role model that having a single lead brings for them.

'One of our clergy who has been with our church for over five years now is in his mid-thirties and is single. This leads a good role model for single men which contradicts the notion that the church is feminine.'

'On the leadership team there is a good mix of all ages, stages and singles/marrieds. Some of the strongest, most full-on Christians in our church are singles who are comfortable in their own skin, accepted, secure and are generally brilliant role models.'

'In the church I go to, the congregation is large with people from all parts of life. I have recently been appointed an area leader, even as a single person.'

4. Groups to join

The fourth most mentioned area was that of the church having groups to which one could belong.

'Mixed-age house groups so you get to mix with both married and single Christians, and getting different perspectives from different ages.'

'They have connect groups, where people can choose to attend any one they feel comfortable in. Not restricted to their own parish. Café after the servicewhere we can have lunch and socialise.'

'Many of our activities, groups, meetings are not gender or status orientated and those do not necessarily inhibit participation by singles.'

'My church is one in which everyone can feel at home with a wide range of groups available for all ages.'

'GREAT small groups, welcoming couples and families, excellent events.'

'There are a lot of families, but the focus is on life groups, where a person's relationship status doesn't seem to matter, because everyone works together as a family.'

5. Talks and preaching that take account of singleness

When preaching, inclusion of examples for people of all marital status was considered helpful, as well as having some specific talks on the subject.

'General preaching from pulpit refers to singles as well as other groups such as widows, single parents and different ages.'

'Preaching acknowledges the temptations and issues surrounded by singleness.'

'Some good talks on the subject.'

'It acknowledges that there are singles and tries to have some optional seminar for us every now and again.'

'My pastor and wife are very supportive and understanding of my struggles as a single woman in the church. My pastor also preached a sermon to the church once about singleness and stressed how difficult it can be for single people. I really appreciated this and thanked him afterwards for preaching this sermon to the whole church to make them aware of this issue within the church.'

6. Offers of hospitality

Acts of hospitality are widely appreciated.

'I left my last church because it wasn't a good place for single Christians. They really didn't know what to do with me. My pastor told me, "You'll probably never get married, so I want you to look after the younger women." I found that very difficult to hear and to live up to. My present church is mixed ages and full of people from all walks of life and situations so I don't feel quite so isolated and 'odd one out'. The pastor's wife cooked me a meal recently – incredibly kind!'

'I never feel single at my Church; I am valued, respected, included, listened to, encouraged to contribute, loved and included often in hospitality.'

'At least some of the leadership feel we need to do something to care for the single Christians in the church – I've been invited to people's houses (including theirs) for lunch at their prompting to help include me in the life of people in the church.'

Acts of hospitality often are supportive in bigger ways.

'My vicar was brilliant and he noticed things, e.g. if I was upset. Once, just after I was recently widowed, I was about to break down after the service and he noticed, as I was rooted to the spot. He literally ran from the altar and took me in his arms whilst I broke. He also reassured everyone around because he realised what was happening. After that, he and his wife had me for lunch every Friday for over a year until I was back on my feet.'

7. Friends in the church

Although often assumed, many made explicit comments of appreciation for their friends in church.

'Friends for support.'

'A few years ago, I prayed for friends I could have close fellowship with and began meeting in a prayer triplet with two other ladies (who are married). This has been a lifeline to me and an opportunity to share together at a deeper level.'

'My single and married friends at church are an important source of support, and fun, for me.'

'About five years ago, an initiative by a single person resulted in a one-off social event for all the known older single people in the church. From that has come a structure in which supportive friendships have been made, a smaller group meets regularly for a meal while others join up for theatre trips, etc.'

'I enjoy a wide range of deep and significant friendships with lots of people in my church: my pastor and his wife, lots of married friends with kids (I love it when they invite me into their families' and kids' lives), older, younger and same age couples and singles.'

'I have found excellent friends amongst other single Christians in the Church. My church is somewhere where I am part of a community and have friends I can be myself with and phone or drop in on if I need someone to talk to.'

8. Activities

Activities were considered important.

'There are many ways, events and activities that keep us as singles active.'

'Indeed our church – which is closely connected with the community – has many different social activities to get involved in, from bell ringing to star gazing. I guess we are very, very lucky in our village and God has really blessed us.'

'Lots of activities, lunches, social evening, film club that encourage singles and couples to get involved.'

9. Outreach activities

Outreach activities are welcomed as opportunities for single people to make a contribution that families may find harder to do.

'Projects are more focused on outreach to the wider community, which everyone will have the opportunity to feel they can contribute towards – especially people who are single and may have more time to get involved.'

'As singles, we are more able to be involved with community outreach activities together with the older married couples without the demands of young children.'

10. Prayers for single people

Some appreciated the fact that people prayed for them in their singleness.

'My pastorate leader and his wife pray regularly for a husband for me. Sermons don't talk only of life as a married one but make reference to singles and their struggles, or just that not everyone is.'

'They do pray for us, particularly those who are struggling with unwanted singleness.'