Churches across Britain are being challenged to become "Donor Churches" and raise the profile of blood and organ donation in their communities.
The FAB (Flesh and Blood) Church Challenge launched recently by the Fleshandblood campaign is the first of its kind and seeks to encourage churches to see blood and organ donation as a natural part of their giving.
"We have seen an amazing response in the UK Church over the past 12 months and are encouraged by the number of local churches raising the profile of blood and organ donation", says Juls Hollidge, Fleshandblood's Campaign Director.
"What we need now is a long term commitment that continues to support the ongoing demand for blood and organs that the NHS faces every year."
In just one year, 30,000 churches have received information about the fleshandblood campaign and across the UK denominations, organisations and festivals have taken part in raising the profile of donation, mobilising the church to increase the number of donors.
This new challenge aims to equip local churches as long term advocates of donation providing practical tools to help churches donate together, talk about donation and raise awareness in their communities.
In response to the introduction of the Church Challenge Lynda Hamlyn, Chief Executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: "On behalf of NHS Blood and Transplant I'd like to thank churches for their support, for making donation important in their community and for the hope this will bring to all those who depend on our life saving work."
Research carried out by the Fleshandblood campaign suggests that 70 per cent of Christians already consider blood and/or organ donation to be part of their core "Christian giving" or are open to the idea. Almost one in ten Christians have given blood in the last year compared to four per cent of the eligible population over the last two years.
The Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church commented: "The FAB Church Challenge is an exciting opportunity for churches to become long term advocates of blood and organ donation in their local communities. By raising awareness, encouraging discussion and providing ways to give they could play a significant role in transforming the lives of others through donation."
Sponsored by Give.net and in association with denominations, organisations and festivals including the Church of England, The Salvation Army, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, Baptist Union, Church In Wales, Church of Scotland, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Hope and Evangelical Alliance, the Fleshandblood campaign marks the first time the NHS has worked alongside the Church on a national initiative of this kind.
Around three people die per day due to the shortage of organs in the UK. This unique campaign seeks to equip individuals and churches as advocates for blood and organ donation, enabling them to raise awareness of such donation with their family, friends and community and potentially help to save thousands of lives each year.
* More about Fleshandblood on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/fleshandblood