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Loving their neighbours

07 June 2013

SOMETIMES, it can seem to non-church members that the Church spends most of its time asking for money; but, over the Whitsun weekend, Portsmouth diocese was busy offering free gifts to its communities, either in hospitality or service.

All 140 parishes took part, a spokesman for the diocese, Neil Pugmire, says. They hosted fun days, tea parties, picnics, and barbecues, or even gave away free ice-creams, as at St Peter's, Petersfield. Some offered practical help. Worshippers from East Meon (pictured) spent the morning tidying their village, and those from St John's, Fareham, gave away furniture, clothing, and household items to needy families. Bacon sandwiches were popular at the free brunch at All Saints', Denmead, with a Messy Church for families on the Saturday afternoon, a concert by the Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir in the evening, and a wedding fair on the Sunday.

On the Isle of Wight, worshippers from Gurnard, and St Faith's, Cowes, spent two hours cleaning their local beach, while those from St Blasius's, Shanklin, did the same, and collected 18 black bags of rubbish. While doing it, they stuck their church banner in the sand so that people would know who they were, and many passers-by and holidaymakers stopped to congratulate them.

On the Sunday, worshippers met in their own churches in the morning, and came together for celebrations in each of the eight deaneries in the afternoon, where they were able to share stories of their doings.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, had invited people from each deanery back to his house for lunch, and each returned to his or her deanery with a Pentecost cake to share, and a candle lit from one in the Bishop's chapel, as a symbol of their shared mission.

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