Diocese of Portsmouth

    Worship band integral to all-age services

    12 Jan. 2023

    YOU don’t need to audition or to have passed music exams to play in the worship band at Hart Plain Church. They have an open door to new members.

    But that doesn’t mean they lack musical expertise. Several of their members play or sing in other bands and choirs, and the core group have played together for years. The keyboard, drums, guitars, ukulele and vocalists are an integral part of their all-age services on the first Sunday of each month. They’re also invited to play on other occasions.

    And the deacon-in-charge, the Rev Kate Macfarlane, who tends to lead all-age services, said: “It’s important to me that everyone feels welcome, so we don’t audition musicians or singers. If someone says they’d like to join, they can do so.

    “We have a faithful and forgiving congregation, so if someone happens to make a mistake, we just laugh about it and move on. It’s not supposed to be a concert – we’re joining together to worship God. But actually, the musicians do want to give of their best to God, and they often sound amazing.

    “Because we’re a local ecumenical partnership, people come from all sorts of backgrounds. So our congregation enjoy both traditional hymns on the organ, and worship songs played by the group – we only have the one service each Sunday, so everyone experiences everything!”

    The group is led by Kathy Gunn, who has sung there for more than 30 years. She said: “It is a mature group, but that reflects our congregation.

    “Our guitarist and bass player are amateurs, but play with the group Dragonfly to a good standard, and one of our keyboard players is a music teacher. A couple of those who sing are part of Milton Glee Club.

    “The singers sit at the front, whether they are being the choir or the vocalists for the worship group, and we use the lectionary to choose songs that fit the theme.

    “Music is really important to me, and is crucial to my faith. We missed worshipping together during Covid, and I was passionate about us coming back together. People in the congregation do look engaged when we are leading worship, and we want to set a good example by worshipping God too as we lead.

    “We try to learn new songs, but we only rehearse once a month, so it’s hard. The group would benefit from some new, younger voices, who would also like to express their faith through songs.”

    One song sung each week is the Hart Plain Church prayer, created after the diocese’s Leading Your Church Into Growth (LYCIG) training, and was set to a familiar tune.

    Four of the Hart Plain Church group are also in a band that plays for Havant deanery events, such as deanery synod.

    Hart Plain Church

    Hart Plain Avenue, Cowplain, Waterlooville, PO8 8RG

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