Diocese of Portsmouth

    Knitted hearts carry Christmas message of love

    2 Dec. 2021

    KEEN knitters from three Gosport churches have created hundreds of knitted love hearts. They'll distribute them across their parish to help share the Christmas message of love.

    The worshippers, from St Matthew's Church, Bridgemary, St Mary the Virgin, Rowner, and St Thomas, Elson, have knitted hundreds of small love hearts, which they've put alongside details of their Christmas services and will leave in coffee shops, GPs' surgeries, workplaces and elsewhere across their parish.

    The initiative has also inspired children from Elson Infant School to create hearts using playdough, glitter and tissue paper, which will be used to decorate their local church, St Thomas the Apostle, Elson. Pupils and staff are likely to hold their carol services inside that church.

    Those worshipping in the parish of Rowner, Bridgemary and Elson have also created some wooden hearts, which will adorn their churches' Christmas trees. Anyone who has been bereaved will be invited to write the name of their loved one on the wooden heart, and all those recently departed will be prayed for during the Christmas season. Each person involved will pay a small fee, and the cash raised will go towards helping those in need in the Gosport area this Christmas.

    The project was designed to echo the national Church of England's 'At The Heart Of Christmas' campaign, and it also follows on from  initiatives to knit angels and baubles at previous Christmases.

    One of the knitters, Pat Goater, said: "Knitting used to be a hobby of mine, but I don't do as much as I used to do. But I did about 50 of these hearts - it was a fairly simple pattern. A couple of years ago, I did knit some of the angels and left one on a cruise ship - it ended up in Los Angeles!

    "I'm going to place them around the community, including in places where children go past with their parents to Woodcot Primary School. I think it's great, and I think anyone who comes to our church will feel welcome. I've been coming for more than 40 years, but even those who don't come regularly know that we're a welcoming place."

    Worshippers who attend the midweek Eucharist and lunch at St Matthew's have been given dozens of knitted hearts to put inside transparent bags ahead of the distribution.

    One of those people, Pat Williams, said: "I think it's a good idea, and it's a way of getting the Church's message across. I'll certainly take some to leave in GPs' surgeries. The heart is a great symbol, and I'm hoping it will help people feel welcome. I've been here 31 years and there's always a welcome here."

    The congregations in Bridgemary, Elson and Rowner have also been supporting a local charity, Crisis Food Gosport, with donations to help those who would struggle to buy food and gifts this Christmas. They arranged for a handover of donations to the charity's administrator Charlotte Blake recently.

    The Rev Samantha Martell with some of the wooden hearts
    Worshippers add the knitted hearts to a welcome package

    St Matthew's, Bridgemary

    Bridgemary Gosport, PO13 ONL

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