WORSHIPPERS will be giving a free gift to their communities.
Church of England churches across the area have been challenged to find a way of serving their neighbourhood for free, with no strings attached, next weekend.
That means Christians will be cleaning litter off streets, washing cars for free, throwing free parties and family fun days – and even giving away free ice creams from an ice cream van.
It’s all to celebrate the festival of Pentecost, when Christians mark the first disciples receiving the free gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is regarded as the birth of the worldwide church, and organisers want to capture the party spirit with scores of free events.
Canon David Isaac, who is chairing the planning team, said: ‘A festival weekend to celebrate the church’s birthday shouldn’t just be a family celebration for those within our congregations, but a party that embraces those in the wider community.
‘We’re using the word party to suggest that we can offer each of our communities something that shows God’s love. We often ask for their help in fundraising, but this will be a free gift.’
On Saturday, churchgoers from St John’s Church, Fareham, will be giving away household items and furniture in their Great Giveaway.
Meanwhile, in Portsmouth, All Saints’ Church in Commercial Road will host a barbecue for staff and residents from All Saints Hostel next door at lunchtime on May 18.
St Peter’s and St Luke’s Churches will throw a birthday party that afternoon, with traditional games such as an egg-and-spoon and three-legged races.
At Christ Church, in London Road, Widley, there’s a Great Portsdown Bake-Off, with budding bakers competing to cook the best cake.
The News’ food critic Carol Godsmark will be among the judges, and guests will be able to sample the cakes for themselves after the judging at 3.20pm.
On Sunday afternoon there will be eight Pentecost celebrations – one in each deanery – at which worshippers can give thanks for the weekend’s projects.
Among the eight events are a celebration at St Peter’s Church, Somers Town, from 4pm, focusing on young people and Christians who work with them in schools and the community within Portsmouth. It will be followed by a barbecue and a disco. Havant churchgoers will congregate on Rowlands Castle Green for a service of celebration, with flag and banner-waving, followed by a picnic, also from 4pm.
Go to bit.ly/12j94kc for more information.