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Crossing the bar — with the church

18 January 2012

by Paul Wilkinson

A CHURCH in Hull is to house a temporary bar; and a neighbouring pub is to hold Sunday services.

Clergy from Holy Trinity, one of the largest churches in England, plan to hold monthly Sunday services in the pub The Mission; and, in April, the nave of Holy Trinity will become a bar for a three-day real-ale festival.

The pub is in a converted Seafarers’ Mission, and has a spire, stained-glass windows, and pulpit. It will be “a pub in a church and a church in a pub”, the Priest-in-Charge of the Grade I listed church, the Revd Dr Neal Barnes, said.

“It’s the idea of our Pioneering Minister, Matt Woodcock, who’s here to reimagine how the church should be in the 21st century. A lot of people have difficulty going into a church for some reason; so we thought: ‘Why not go into a place which is more familiar, where they are more at home?’ It will be a livelier, less formal service, and could include a band, videos, guest speakers, and refresh­ments — but no alcohol.”

The services, which begin on 29 January, have the title “Full”, after Jesus’s words in St John’s Gospel, where he said he had come so that people may “have life and have it to the full” (John 10.10).

“I’m convinced that if we lived our lives as Jesus actually intended, then it would be the most exciting, challenging, and life-affirming one possible,” Mr Woodcock said. “He preached a message of hope, justice and joy. Full will work to reflect that. It will feel like you’re having a good time at someone’s house rather than at a church service.”

Dr Barnes is preparing for the arrival of about 100 beers and ciders in his church for the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA’s) festival in the spring.

“We are primarily a place of wor­ship, looking to give people spiritual sustenance, but we feel very much that we should be blessing the community and opening up the church,” he said. “So we have got a succession of different events: a fashion show, a music festival, a Christmas fair, concerts, and exhibi­tions.

“They are all ways we can invite people into the building to interact with it — not just in a spiritual sense, but also in a cultural and community way. It will not clash with services, and there will still be spaces for people to come in for prayer and quiet.”

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