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Wittering Churches Together has been formed to forge closer links between the three churches of East Wittering, St Peter’s Catholic Church, St Anne’s Anglican Church and the United Reformed Church.
There have been tentative links for over twenty years with the three churches participating in the annual Walk of Witness on Good Friday morning. The walk always ended with a liturgical service alternating each year between St Peter’s and St Anne’s Churches. Although taking part in the walk, the United Reformed Church did not have a building sufficiently large to cater for the numbers attending.
All of this has now changed with the opening of the new building for the United Reformed Church.
During the nine months that their new church was being built the United Reformed Church held their services at St Peter’s church and this led to a new understanding between the two churches and many new friendships were formed.
Initial meetings were held in July and August of 2008 to determine how the three churches can work together more effectively. Topics under discussion included:- Village Welcome pack for new parishioners, Common Bible Study groups, discussion group meetings, especially during Advent and Lent. It was also suggested that representatives from each of the three churches could submit articles from time to time for publication in the local Parish Life magazine.
The first event planned was a Songs of Advent Praise, which was held in the newly re-opened United Reformed Church in the afternoon of Sunday 30th November, the First Sunday in Advent. Parishioners of the three churches were asked for their favourite Advent hymns and reading from which a final selection was made. The choirs of the three churches combined under the leadership of the URC Director of Music and the readings were shared between members of the three churches. The event was a rousing success, being well attended and everyone enjoyed light refreshments afterwards.
The three choirs joined together again a week later for a Christingle service at St Anne’s Church who very kindly made sufficient Christingles for all who attended from the three churches. A collection was taken which went to support the Children’s Society.
The most recent event was a Service for Christian Unity Week which ran from 18th January to 24th. A service was held on Sunday 18th January in St Peter’s Church with Fr. Kieron presiding. The theme revolved around an opening ceremony where a bible was placed on the decorated altar followed by the lighting of three candles. Members of the three churches read from the lectern and Fr. Kieron gave a very stimulating and well received homily. Again this event was a resounding success and further friendships were made afterwards whilst enjoying tea and cakes, courtesy of St Peter’s catering group.
These include a series of five talks during Lent, given by well-known local people. The planned dates are: March 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th and April 2nd. Each speaker will be asked to talk for 30 mins on the agreed subject of “Journey to Faith”. We have been very lucky in being able to persuade actress Patricia Routledge, who has just celebrated her 80th birthday, to give a talk on 12th March. Patricia lives locally and is very involved with Chichester Cathedral and we are all looking forward to hear her interesting story.
We are also planning to extend the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness. Although the route is yet to be finalised, we envisage a longer route so that we circle the village and walk down the “High Street” twice. The route will be well advertised and also timed so that elderly parishioners who may not be able to manage the whole journey can join in at any point along the route. We also plan to have about five “stations” where prayers can be offered and the journey will end with a service which for the first time will be held in the new United Reformed Church.
Geoff Breeze is St Peter's representative