Having faith in new friends – Christians look for partners

Birmingham Post

February 24th 2000

Birmingham woman Katharine Gray tells Ross Dodd about her new introduction service for lonely Christians

Casting her eye around her church one day, Katharine Gray was struck by the number of single people in the congregation. She also realised how few unattached people seemed to find love among their fellow worshippers. “Through talking to my Christian friends, I discovered that they were not meeting the guys and girls they wanted to meet,” explains Katharine.

“That is not to say those people aren’t out there, but people are leading very busy lives and are often committed to church activities two or three times a week. That means they don’t have the opportunity to meet other Christians in their area”

Chatting to church ministers threw up the same picture. “A lot of them said, ‘yes, we have lots of single people in our church’.”

One or two of Katharine’s friends admitted to having tried to find a partner through mainstream dating agencies or the internet. “But most Christians want to meet someone who shares their faith to some degree. So I went away and thought, ‘what can we do about it?’”

Katharine, a 31 year old Birmingham businesswoman who is single herself, came up with the idea of setting up an introduction service for Christians.

Friends First was launched last month with the backing of several ministers from the Midlands.

“I went round and saw a lot of vicars to see whether it was an idea that leaders of the Church would welcome,” explains Katharine. “And I got a resounding ‘YES’.”

Inquiries are already flooding in and Katharine hopes she will be able to expand the service to the whole country. “I’ve had ore than 120 enquiries, 97 per cent of which are from Birmingham and the West Midlands because so far I haven’t marketed the service outside the region.”

“What has amazed me is the age spread. The youngest person to contact me so far is 20 and the oldest 81. I thought I would be setting up something for young people, but a lot of those who have shown an interest are in their 30s, 40s and 50s.”

The reasons for wanting to join an introduction service are similarly varied. “I’ve had people on the phone who’ve said they want to meet a Christian but just haven’t found the right man or woman and I’ve had people who are just lonely. People are really responding to the name of the agency. They say that they want friendship first and some are not ready for a relationship.”

For an annual fee of £95- reduced to £50 for the next few weeks- members are sent profiles of other members through a regularly updated directory. They contact people whose profiles appeal by phone or via a box number. Addresses are never given out for security reasons.

The advantage of an introduction agency such as Friends First is that people immediately have something in common- their Christian faith. “you know that people you’ll meet will tend to have the same morals you do,” says Katharine.

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