Alton Methodist Church
On Sunday 29 November, over 350 people packed St Lawrence Church to celebrate two new births. The creation of the new ‘Parish of the Resurrection’ was the first of these which was born as a result of the joining together of the churches of All Saints, St Lawrence and St Peter’s in Beech and the second the birth of The Greater Alton Project born as a result of the coming together of these same churches with Holy Rood in Holybourne and Alton Methodist Church in a covenant relationship to be known as the greater Alton Project or GAP, which commits the churches to work together for the purpose of supporting mission and ministry in the greater Alton area.
The service of celebration was led jointly by The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Basingstoke and the Revd John Hellyer Chairman of the Methodist South-East District. “This is something we have worked towards for over two years” said Revd Canon Peter Doores who is to be responsible for the new Parish of the Resurrection, “ It comes about after a series of unanimous votes taken in all the churches which gave the go ahead to this new venture in church co-operation. It could provide a model churches could follow in small towns across the country.”
The Revd Keith Underhill, Minister of the Methodist Church in Alton welcomed the formation of the Greater Alton Project. “Our co-operation has already led to the appointment of a Chaplain to work a day a week in Alton College and a Simeon Chaplain to work with older people especially those who live in retirement and nursing homes. In the future we hope to appoint a full time youth worker as part of the GAP team. Al this is a positive outcome of the coming closer together of the Anglican and Methodist churches nationally.”
All those present at the service were invited to sign one of four large boards as a permanent record of those who were present at this significant event in the life of the churches in Alton. The children attending the service contributed their hand prints on one of the boards. The boards are presently on display in St Lawrence Church.
Revd Paul Barlow who is presently the Priest in Charge at All Saints Church and will be the Associate Vicar in the new parish said “ The signing of the covenant marks a new beginning in the life of all the churches involved and I believe it will help us to serve our local community better. It brings nearer the unity that the churches often talk about and hope for.”