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.