COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Empty pews and dwindling congregations are making headlines as the fate of churches across America continue to be a big talker, but research shows church attendance in Georgia and Alabama is some of the strongest in the country.
This coming Sunday is a big day for pastors in the Valley and throughout the U.S., as it marks National Back To Church day.
Packing sanctuaries across the country is the hope of the initiative, with nearly 30,000 U.S. churches planning to participate this weekend, and more than 1,500 international churches pledging to extend a special welcome.
"There has been a drop off as far as attendance in churches across America," said St. James CME Pastor T.J. Davis.
"A lot of people have set bad examples and i think that's an integral part of why we're seeing a decline in church attendance," said Glen Smith, a local church goer.
However, despite the national numbers causing concerns, some see plenty in the pews at local churches, compared to the rest of the nation. According to research from Gallup, both Alabama and Georgia made the top 10 list of highest weekly church attendance, with 46 percent in Alabama and 39 percent in the Peach State.
"With all of the issues that we are facing, all the challenges that we are facing in this world and in America, the church is continuing to stand whole and to stand firm on the foundation that this country was built upon," said Davis.
Reverend Davis says he wants to see congregations blossom even more. His church will host a special 10 a.m. service this Sunday followed by food and fun, to remind the community he says, that the house of the Lord is welcoming to all.
"I pray that many people will come out and be a part of the movement this Sunday because I just know that God is going to do tremendous things this weekend," said Davis.
If you're looking for a church to attend, you can visit the National Back to Church Sunday website which has a list of churches in the area.