- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2001

LONDON A new dating agency for Christians asks members to quote their favorite biblical passages and describe their religious beliefs to make sure they're matched with perfect partners.
If it catches on here, it could spread elsewhere.
The agency, which has signed up nearly 1,000 members since it was founded three months ago, asks prospective clients about the importance of their faith, which denomination they belong to and their favorite Christian authors.
The agency's aim is to match Christians who live near each other but have never met in the pews. It also hopes to reduce tensions by keeping apart people from radically different Christian traditions.
"People could meet who are in the same church, but have never spoken to each other before," says Jackie Elton, the founder and director of Christianconnection, one of the first such agencies to be based on the Internet.
"It can be quite revealing to talk about your faith. Being British, meeting in a social environment, it's not the first thing that they would talk about," Miss Elton said. "People in the church are often quite different in their beliefs and style of worship and that tends to matter quite a bit.
"There are people who have informal kinds of worship and others who like a much more traditional approach, and that will tell you quite a bit about them as a person."
The new service also aims to separate Christians who do not worship in the same way, she said. "If you are from a charismatic tradition, then you won't feel comfortable with a very high Anglo-Catholic approach.
"We encourage members to talk about their moral values and the spiritual aspects of their lives, including their favorite Bible verses. It is something that secular sites rarely bother to do effectively and appropriately. But for practicing Christians of all denominations, having a shared faith is essential."
According to projections, 39 percent of men and 31 percent of women in Britain will be single 10 years from now.
"For Christians, the issue is even more acute, as the choices are narrower," Miss Elton said. It is estimated that there are 300,000 single practicing Christians in Britain.
The problem of finding a Christian partner is significantly tougher for women than for men. A recent report found that women significantly outnumbered men as worshippers, and that for every single man in his 30s who attends church there are two single women in the same age group.
The site has attracted more women than men so far, and 85 percent of its members are under age 40, representing 13 Christian denominations. Forty-one percent are graduates.
One member of the new agency says that giving information about favorite Bible verses had been useful.
"I'm an exceptionally busy person and if you are looking to find partners to go out with, it is helpful to have a shortcut into who the person is, rather than what they look like and the surface things that you would find at work and at church."

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