Parish life in Fareham and Portchester is never dull – always varied. The community are vibrant and full of the Holy Spirit. Recent outreach projects we have undertaken include Alpha, and in Advent we had a family Worship Day in collaboration with the Southampton ‘Celebrate’ Community which Bishop Philip took part in.
The parish is very generous in their support for local community initiatives. We have been heavily engaged with CARITAS’ Refugee Matters. Parishioners have worked so hard for over two years setting up a house and we are expecting a refugee family to arrive any day. This passion and drive has been incredible to watch. Alongside this, our Advent Appeal was in support of the Fareham Churches’ Covid Emergency Fund which helps those who would otherwise lose their homes to rent arrears because of the pandemic. In total we raised £6,250. This truly is the Gospel, the Good News, in action. Sometimes I think the thing that lets the parish down with their missionary zeal is me and my (lack of) time & availability, but that’s something I am going to work on with an EST very soon!
As a parish we have been working on a Ministry of Welcome and Hospitality, looking to ensure those who come to join us since the lockdowns; existing parishioners or new, feel they belong. We have a growing Men’s Group who gather monthly for Bible reflection, testimony and worship. With the assistance of Fr Tom Grufferty (retired) we have a newly established Bereavement Group who actively journey with those who are grieving and those who come to the Parish for a funeral of a loved one. Recently, we had a successful “Watch” party joining Divine Renovation with 29 parishioners attending and I am about to embark on a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group from the parish community.
Recently we concluded our Closer to Christ Campaign, and I can honestly say that the prospect of starting it was quite daunting. However, as in many times in ministry, I had no need to be nervous or afraid. I had lots of one-to-one meetings supported by campaign director Matt Bloomer and I realised the more meetings I had, the more I got into the swing of it and found I was enjoying talking with people about the campaign goals, about the Church and about how we could work towards our parish goal.
Being involved in Vocations Promotion, and having had Seminarians in the parish, with several retired Clergy nearby, I feel parishioners really appreciated some of the needs the Campaign is working to support. The parishioners have been positive and, on the whole, really supportive; I am touched and humbled by their generosity to the Diocese and the Parish. I think it helped that my parishioners were also engaged with our parish goals – especially the environmental aims for solar panels and charging points and a well needed Hall kitchen refurbishment (the current one I helped design as a Seminarian here on placement 30+ years ago!) I was delighted when we exceeded our target and I look forward to when our local goals come to fruition.