WORSHIP at a Portsmouth parish has finally restarted after a two year gap in Sunday services – much to the joy of the community.
St Margaret’s church hall, in Eastney, was packed with about 70 people who attended the milestone occasion.
Emotions ran high at the Highland Road site, which included lively songs and passionate prayers.
A team of 15 Christians, mostly from nearby St Jude’s Church, led the service, having previously held regular midweek meetings, community open days and men’s fitness sessions since the spring.
The vicar of St Jude’s, the Rev Mike Duff – who is overseeing the new congregation – opened the service by mentioning the faithful worship at St Margaret’s over more than 100 years.
He said: ‘It was so sad when worship had to stop here in December 2015, and we want to acknowledge the real grief that people felt at that point.
‘Some of those former congregation members found new homes in nearby churches, but have turned up today to wish us well, and we’re grateful for that.
‘It was exciting when St Jude’s was asked to plant a new congregation here, and we’re really looking forward to seeing what God does.’
The day was led by team leader Fran Carabott, and included worship led by a small music group and children’s activities at the back of the hall.
Brenda Cook, who was part of the original St Margaret’s congregation and now goes to St James, Milton, was among those attending.
She said: ‘I’m glad to see a living Christian presence in this part of Eastney. It’s very different from the old St Margaret’s, but in spite of that, I wish them well and trust they will flourish.’
And Jill Chalmers, who was the only previous member of St Margaret’s to join the 15-strong core team, said: ‘I really enjoyed it. It’s very lively, and there was a good atmosphere, and it was good to see it so full.’
Sunday services will continue at St Margaret’s at 4pm each week. The church has also launched a toddler group, which meets on Thursday afternoons from 1.45pm-3.30pm. Hour-long men’s fitness sessions run from 7pm-8pm on Fridays.
The congregation will host fireworks on the beach after their service on November 5, and is already planning a Christmas carol service on December 16 at 6.30pm.