Rev Ian Meredith, vicar, St Mary’s Church, Portchester, on the wide range of services
It’s claimed there are more people attending church on Sundays than attend football matches on Saturdays.
Just as people have their favourite teams, churchgoers have their favourite style of worship. Over the past 30 years, Christian worship has changed. The abundance of new hymns and worship songs being written, and accompanied by a variety of musical instruments is just one obvious one.
People often ask ‘what is the style of churchmanship at St Mary’s, Portchester?’ and I reply ‘tambourines and incense!’
We are well resourced by clergy, lay people and musicians, and are able to put on quite a variety of different worship styles in the one building, at different services. This might partly explain why our church has bucked the trend and seen quite a bit of growth over the past few years.
Our Sunday 8am service is Holy Communion from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It is growing in attendance rather than decreasing. We average 40 people, and can reach 50. Many, including younger folk, appreciate the beauty, poetry and theology of the Prayer Book.
Our 10am service is a Parish Eucharist when the building is quite full.
Although we mainly follow the Church of England’s Common Worship, there is a liveliness about it – the liturgy comes alive as people engage, some with upraised hands and clapping. There is the occasional whiff of incense on ‘high days and holy days.’
Our newest arrival is a later morning service at 11.30am on the second Sunday of the month.
The music is provided by a newly-formed praise band and there is a more informal feel.
Evening services at 6pm provide a gentler and more meditative style with a mixture of Taize, Celtic, Evensong and services put together to reflect the theme of the evening. The service is followed by a series of Bible teaching which are intended for those who want a bit ‘more’ but are open to all.
Come along, pick something from the menu. You might enjoy church as much as some enjoy football!