New church to serve students and young adults
A BRAND new church is being created in Portsmouth to help reach students and younger people.
The Harbour Church will be a new Church of England church in the heart of the city, offering contemporary worship and evangelistic initiatives in a non-traditional church venue.
About 30 worshippers will move from St Peter’s C of E Church in Brighton as the initial congregation. They aim to expand by working with those who have grown up with no previous experience of church.
It will be open to all, but the new church leaders are particularly keen to spread the gospel among the city’s 22,000 students, and those aged 15 to 29 – between 2001 and 2011 there was a significant increase in this age group in the city.
The church’s first Sunday services will be in September, but the team will meet regularly in Portsmouth over the summer as they get to know each other.
The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, has created this new Anglican congregation by using a Bishop’s Mission Order for the first time. This allows new churches to be planted across traditional parish boundaries.
It will be led by the Rev Alex Wood, currently curate at St Peter’s, Brighton. St Peter’s was itself a church plant from Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, in London, the home of the Alpha Course. It started five years ago with 30 people and is now 800-strong.
Alex and his wife Liz will move to Portsmouth with their daughter Annie. They’ll live in the vicarage at St Saviour’s Church, Stamshaw, and Alex will also be licensed to St Alban’s Church, Copnor.
They will be joined by Ben Bryant, who will be ordained as curate at Harbour Church in our cathedral this summer. Ben, who is currently at Holy Trinity, Clapham, will come with his wife Martha and their children Jonah and Rae. And Sam Parker, who has been a worship leader at the Christian youth festival Soul Survivor, will join the church as worship pastor.
Other members of the congregation will also move from Brighton to Portsmouth, finding new jobs or applying for university courses.
Alex said: “We love the city and it’s an exciting place to be. It was an exciting adventure to watch St Peter’s grow, and it has given us a great vision of how powerful the local church can be.
“This is a big move for us, but we have a job and a house. It’s even bigger for the other guys, who have committed themselves to the church plant, but need to find jobs and somewhere to live. The bishop has invited us to work particularly with students and young adults. We’re also keen to work with the poor and marginalised.”
One member of the new congregation, Jonny Swales, 26, works for a charity in London that helps excluded pupils, and helps those aged 16-24 to find apprenticeships. He hopes to set up a similar social enterprise in Portsmouth.
Another, Hannah McCallum, 21, already has a job lined up as a teacher in Mayfield School in North End from September. And a third, Lauren Meredith, 21, will be starting a course in criminology at the University of Portsmouth from September.
The Archdeacon of Portsdown, the Ven Joanne Grenfell, said: “We are pleased to welcome a team from St Peter’s and Holy Trinity Brompton to plant a new church in Portsmouth’s inner city and to work alongside our existing churches in reaching out. We value the energy and commitment that they will bring as they work to share the good news of the gospel among those who have little previous experience of church.
“We’re still working out together the details of how and where this new church will be located, but we are absolutely committed to working together in partnership in this new venture.
“This will be a fantastic addition to the work that our churches and chaplaincies already do to reach out to students and those in the inner city. It will sit well alongside the university chaplaincy, the chaplaincy projects in schools and FE colleges, and the ministry of our existing churches to those in the heart of the city.”
The new church is part of the £2.4m strategy developed by Portsmouth’s Church of England diocese to develop new styles of ministry and new worshipping communities. This strategy has also seen the appointment of four new pioneer ministers to find new ways of being ‘church’. They will be working in the Leesland area of Gosport, the PO9 area of Havant, the Highbury estate in Cosham, and the Milton area of Portsmouth.