8 May 2023
Our churches have hosted a series of special services, community picnics, street parties and opportunities ... read more
4 May 2023
Children from Bembridge C of E Primary School acted out the Coronation service during an ... read more
28 April 2023
Young bell ringers Pollyanna and Maxim will be among those ringing church bells to celebrate ... read more
Churches host services and parties to celebrate the Coronation
CHURCHES across our diocese have hosted a series of celebrations as we rejoiced alongside the new King and Queen.
Worshippers held special Coronation services, community picnics, big lunches and opportunities to serve others over an eventful Coronation weekend. Some live-screened the Coronation service itself from Westminster Abbey, others incorporated elements of royal-themed music and liturgy into Sunday services.
Churches were draped in bunting and worshippers carried union flags as they marked this historic occasion – the first Coronation we’ve experienced for 70 years.
Audrey Lawrence, who is 98, does remember the Coronation in 1953. She was one of the guests at a free cream tea party at St Michael’s Church, Paulsgrove, on Bank Holiday Monday. She’s lived in the same house in Paulsgrove since 1948.
“I went into the first showhome on Allaway Avenue when the estate was being built,” she said. “I remember the Coronation in 1953, but we didn’t watch it on the TV as we couldn’t afford one. I listened to it on the radio and the first time I saw anything of it was in the newspapers. It was pouring rain that day, and we had a street party in the school.
“I thought the Coronation this year was brilliant. I don’t know any other country that can do these things as well as we do. I’m lucky to be able to see it.”
The free cream tea at St Michael’s included face-painting, a disco, and a raffle. The food was provided by St M’s Events, and Aspex Gallery provided paint and brushes so guests could create a mural.
Thousands of villagers enjoyed a Coronation Street Party hosted by All Saints Church, Denmead, the parish council and other community groups on the Bank Holiday Monday. The main road through the village was closed off, so residents could enjoy music, magic, archery, food stalls and the chance to pet animals.
Village groups including the WI, twinning association, Scouts, and Denmead in Bloom set up stalls in the church car park to tell people what they do. Craft and games were available inside the church hall, while the church itself hosted the entries to its competition to make a crown for the Coronation. Villagers buried a time capsule, enjoyed dance performances and had their faces painted.
At St Faith’s Church in Havant, worshippers welcomed Havant MP Alan Mak and the Mayor of Havant Cllr Diana Patrick to a special Coronation Communion. The rector, Canon Tom Kennar, preached about the role of the monarchy and led a special anthem based on Psalm 122 arranged by Cormac O’Duffy.
Bishop Jonathan attended a special Coronation service at St Mary’s Church, Cowes, which drew together music, readings and prayers led by people from across the Isle of Wight. The Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon, was among those celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
Young singers from Queensgate Foundation School in Whippingham, winners of the Isle of Wight Music, Dance and Drama Festival 2023 – in the category of Primary Schools Choir – performed a song. And the West Wight Dementia-Friendly Choir led worshippers in a rendition of ‘Any Dream Will Do’.
Earlier, Bishop Jonathan attended a Coronation Civic Eucharist at Portsmouth Cathedral, where he preached and celebrated Communion. He spoke about the new King’s dedication to duty. The full sermon is reproduced below:
“I heard a wonderful story the other day, which inspires me. It begins in the mid-1970s. A high profile, privileged young man has a life-choice to make that will have consequences for many.
“He has completed a short career in the Royal Navy. With Navy severance pay in his back pocket - in 1976 a sum of £7,400, by my calculation, worth nearly £70,000 today - the next chapter of his life stands open.
“He has options in every direction. His future is bright. But in 1976 he is troubled by what he sees. Inner cities erupt into violence, unrest and riots: a fiery, convulsive outpouring, in part the release of deep-seated frustration at racial discrimination, deprivation and long-term unemployment.
“A range of responses were visible: tabloid disgust at criminality, alongside academic and political responses, forged worlds away from poverty of opportunity or the trauma of violence.
“But there were also responses that faced the chaos and remained involved for the long haul of social transformation: empathic responses which sought to listen, identify causes, and play a part in rebuilding the communities most affected. The response of the young man in our story, then HRH Prince Charles, was of this kind. He chose to use his Navy severance pay to start the Prince’s Trust.
“What a story can now be told! The Prince’s Trust is the UK’s leading youth charity, having supported over one million young people, created 125,000 entrepreneurs and given business support to 395,000 people.
“It’s a story of faith: in the gifts, infinite value and potential of each young person. It’s a story of hope: as generations of young people have grown in confidence, developed skills and discovered new vision for their lives. It’s a story of love: expressed in community, empowerment of others and characterised by service.
“In Jesus’ parable of the final judgment, the King of Kings will say to the righteous: “when you ministered to the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned, you did it to me”.
“Will you join me in praying for HM the King, that he will always choose to follow the Way of his Master, discerning the humble, crucified and risen Christ in the presence of the little ones of this world, the least, the last and the lost?
“And will you join me in giving thanks for the choice that brought the Prince’s Trust into being, a young prince’s life-choice which has brought hope to so many? And will you ask, with me, for God’s grace to be hope-bringers wherever we find ourselves?”
Meanwhile, Petersfield Town Council sponsored a fete and celebration of volunteer events in the town on Sunday. St Peter’s Church, Petersfield, had a stall with dressing up as King or Queen, craft activities younger people and a prayer station.
Among those who dressed up were the Rev Sylvia Roberts, retired SSM, Christine Tulley parish member and former CMS missionary and curate, the Rev Allison Waterhouse. The vicar, Canon Will Hughes, declined to reign, so has been awarded a session in the stocks on the next available occasion.
The church had a lot of bell ringing over the weekend with 25 ringers in the tower and display of volunteer activities in church including a demonstration of candle making by John Deavin who makes most of out church candles from recycled stubs collected from the deanery.
At St Peter's, Seaview, worshippers enjoyed a joyful service to give thanks for the Coronation. This was followed in the village by a sail-past, a 21-gun salute, the playing of the National Anthem by a local brass band and a community lunch. For the Big Help Out, villagers took part in a beach litter pick.
Their special Coronation project was the restoration of the wrought iron church gates. The gates were sandblasted professionally by Adam Groves and then painted and re-hung by Graham Bridger and Christine Stone of Nettlestone and Seaview Men in Sheds.
Meanwhile, young ringers Maxim and Pollyanna were among those who rang church bells to celebrate the Coronation at St Mary's and All Saints Church, Droxford. Pollyanna, 14, and Maxim, 10, only started learning how to ring last year, as part of a recruitment drive to find thousands of people to 'Ring for the King'.
The group of ringers spent 90 minutes ringing, and wore new Coronation ringing souvenir badges. The mood was lightened by some ringers wearing wigs, plus a visit by the King himself - one of the ringers in a Charles III mask. They relaxed afterwards with gin (for the adults!) and cake.
And the team from the Kitchen Table in Gosport provided free food on the Bank Holiday Monday of Coronation weekend - as they do each Monday. Volunteers set up the tables in the church hall behind Christ Church with patriotic bunting, table cloths and flags, and provided party food for those in need.
The Kitchen Table uses food that is donated by the local Trash Cafe, often fresh food from supermarkets that can no longer be sold. Volunteers usually create a two-course meal to be served each Monday from 5pm to hungry families living around Gosport. They decided to remain open for all three Bank Holiday Mondays in May, as those families still need to eat. For many, it's a real godsend. Click here to find out more.