OTTAWA, 16 mayo 2002 ( A recent poll suggests that Canada may be experiencing a period of spiritual renewal--one not limited to churchgoers, reports Ecumenical News International (ENI).

A survey of 3,500 Canadians reveals that weekly church attendance has increased, the essential membership has stabilized, and those occasionally attending church services were not "deserting the ship."

The trend is particularly obvious among mainline Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, United Church of Canada, and Presbyterian churches.

Reginald Bibby, a teacher of sociology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, has monitored religious trends in Canada every five years since the 1970s. His most recent survey suggests that a 30-year downward trend in church attendance has ceased and that youth attendence has rebounded.

Bibby admitted his surprise at the survey´s results, since previous surveys point to a waning religious influence in Canada, ENI reports.

"Groups like the United Church, and the Anglicans, may be joining the evangelicals in experiencing revitalization," he said. "Religious groups are doing a much more aggressive job of targeting and ministering to young people," Bibby added. "Churches are making youth ministry, ministry to young adults and to children, a much higher priority than in the past."

This rejuvenation takes place in context of the preparations for World Youth Day [ ], to take place in Toronto at the end of July.