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Churches Try Dialing for Members

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RALEIGH — Call it a sign of the times. There are hundreds of churches in the Triangle and they all want to gain new members. Some of them send postcards, advertise in community papers or have spots on radio and TV.

One Raleigh church is trying an unusual approach to increase its flock.

Of course, recruiting people to join the Christian faith is nothing new. Churches have been doing that for almost 2,000 years.

The tradition of going door-to-door to introduce people to God is a longstanding one.

But what is new is the way they are reaching out to the community, using technology -- including Web sites -- and it is producing results.

If you are not home, your answering machine may have a special message for you.

"Hi. This is a recorded message from the families and members of Mount Vernon Baptist Church...."

The church is using $6,000 worth of technology to leave recorded messages in thousands of homes.

"Some people say, 'Well, Praise the Lord, thanks for calling, but we have a church,'" according to Associate Pastor Eddy Simmons. "And other people saying they would be interested in coming and they would like more information. All of that is recorded in the computer and we can go back and get those names and addresses."

Right now the church is leaving messages twice a week in up to 800 homes a day. Soon they hope to do it five times a week eventually reaching everyone in the Raleigh area.

Mount Vernon did have a few bugs in its system. Some people did get called more than once, but church officials and their technology consultants think that problem has now been solved.

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Ericka Lewis, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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