STRONG community spirit and joint worship have kept a church going for 130 years.
Members of the Gosport corps of the Salvation Army met yesterday to celebrate reaching the milestone.
Captain Janine Lewis was joined by dozens in the congregation as they marked the occasion.
Cpt Lewis said: ‘It’s incredible – the Salvation Army started 150 years ago.
The army itself was only 20 years old when it opened here.
‘It’s quite momentous really, to have that and see the church keep going.’
Youngsters and older members of the church turned out for the service yesterday morning at 10am, followed by another in the evening at 6pm.
Mick Macaulay, of The Avenue, Alverstoke, is the second longest-serving member – and remembers moving to the corps’ current site in The Crossways 53 years ago from Forton Road.
Mick, the mission secretary at the church, said: ‘I was brought here as a small child, I’ve been here all my life.
‘It’s my spiritual home, that’s when I first had a relationship with God and that’s special. It’s a real family of worshippers here, it’s an extension of your own family, it’s very special.’
Mick has held various jobs at the church, including running the youth club, teaching children to play musical instruments and is now in the band.
He added the church does a lot of work in the community.
‘The Salvation Army is renowned for being active in the community,’ he said.
‘It’s an important part of our ministry relating to the local community.’
Yesterday’s service saw the congregation sing hymns and pray for the future of the church.
Youngsters were invited up to the front of the hall to sing and take part in the service, led by Major Martin Hill from territorial headquarters.
He said: ‘Our aims are still what they were then in terms of bringing the Christian faith to those who might not encounter it.’
Marie Beasley joined the church after attending its parent and toddler group.
The 44-year-old, of Hambrook Road, was with her son PJ, five.
He said: ‘I like Jam club and messy church. I learn all about Jesus and learn songs and dances.’
Sunday services are at 10am and 6pm.