(RNS) - Some two-and-a-half million households in the United Kingdom--about one in eight of the country's 20 million households--have each been given a "millennium candle" by their local churches.

The churches want people to light the candles at five minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve and join in reciting the millennium resolution drawn up by the churches: "Let there be respect for the earth, peace for its people, love in our lives, delight in the good, forgiveness for past wrongs, and from now on a new start."

This "millennium moment" is to be broadcast on television by both BBC channels, ITV, and Sky Television. The millennium resolution will also form part of the ceremonies in the Millennium Dome at Greenwich attended by Queen Elizabeth, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

When the candle scheme was launched in October 1998 it was hoped that through local churches every household in the country would receive a candle.

Meanwhile, leaders of the English churches, including Carey, and Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Bowen of Southwark, have issued a millennium statement acknowledging the churches' past failings.

"We rejoice in 2,000 years of Christian witness, service, and faithfulness. We also acknowledge that we have often fallen short of the example given us by the Prince of Peace in our treatment of others," they said.

But entering another millennium is "an excellent moment" for reflection and re-evaluation. "The new year and new century provide the chance to start again: to make a new start with God, a new start with each other, and a new start for the world's poor. Here is a God-given opportunity to step out into the future with greater openness to God's love, a larger generosity towards one another, and a fuller commitment to use the earth's resources more fairly and responsibly."

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