A NEW crossing over the River Thames lived up to its name as the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, led worshippers across Christchurch Bridge from Reading to Caversham. The group of 15, from Greyfriars in the town centre, have joined the evolving community at St John the Baptist, Lower Caversham.

“They have publicly declared their desire to follow the call of Christ and, with their brothers and sisters at St John’s, to learn and live the way of Christ,” said the Revd Penny Cuthbert, transition minister at St John’s. “Friends from Greyfriars have pledged their continued support, and the new, united St John’s congregation have promised, with the help of God, to accompany one another on the journey of faith, supporting each other in friendship, love and prayer.”

The support from Greyfriars – a large church in central Reading – is part of its commitment to becoming a resourcing hub. This started when New Hope, a missional community, was sent out of Greyfriars in 2002, to housing estates south of the River Thames. A second church plant was sent out in 2011 to St Matthew’s Southcote, under the leadership of the Revd Pads Dolphin and a team from Greyfriars.

The Thames is the boundary between Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham Parish and Greyfriars Parish. Bishop Andrew preached at Greyfriars about being an ‘outdoors’ rather than ‘indoors’ church before leading the transfer group and friends, together with clergy and churchwardens of the two churches, out of the church and through Reading to the river. Members of St John’s met them on Christchurch Bridge where led by Bishop Andrew, all publicly declared their faith as an act of unity.

Arrival at St John’s was greeted with music, cheers and helium balloons before Bishop Andrew commissioned the newly-united St John’s congregation and celebrated Holy Communion.

“The party to complete this great day was wonderful, with so much sharing of food, friends and chat,” said Penny. “With so much joy around, it promised further growth to come out of this ‘transfer growth’.”

In April, St John’s will begin a monthly café church and monthly contemporary worship service as add-ons to the current pattern of worship.

Greyfriars is set to continue as a resourcing hub, supporting churches in the Reading area with worship, children, youth, teaching and preaching resources. In the last year, Greyfriars has supported and will continue to support St Mary’s, Purley, Reading Minster, Holy Trinity Theale, St Matthew’s Southcote, St Peter’s Earley, St Barnabas Emmer Green and St John’s Caversham.