‘I’M spiritual, but not religious; I do believe in something but I’m not sure what; I’m not really a churchy person but I like churches.’
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
About a fifth of people in Britain describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’ – people who wouldn’t necessarily go to church or subscribe to a religion, but who believe there’s something more to life than the daily grind.
If you’re one of them, you might be tempted to think that the church has nothing much to offer you, except for the odd christening or wedding.
But in fact, the Church of England exists for everyone who lives here, whatever they believe.
In the nine years I’ve been the vicar of St John’s, Forton, I’ve met hundreds of people who’ve told me that they wouldn’t particularly want to come to church on a Sunday morning, but would love a chance to come in to light a candle, have a chat or just take some time to be still and reflect.
So, this year, we’ve started a new project at St John’s.
On the first Wednesday of every month, the church will be open from 7pm until 9pm, for anyone who wants to come in, to do whatever they want.
We are calling it open church.
There are no sermons or services, and nobody will ask you to sign a membership form, make a donation or join the flower rota.
It’s simply a chance for you to think, reflect or just be.
The next open church will be on Wednesday, February 1.
It’s based around the theme of light, so there will be plenty of candles to light, plus various other creative activities to do if you would like to – although if you want to come just for the coffee and biscuits, that’s fine too!
Whoever you are, whatever you believe, St John’s Church is here for you.
So, whether you want to pop in for five minutes or stay for two hours, please do come along and use your church in whatever way feels right for you.
It would be lovely to see you.
St John’s Church is in Forton Road, Gosport.
Sunday services are at 10am.
For more information, go to fortonchurch.org.
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Carrie Thompson is vicar of St John’s Church, Forton, Gosport