A CHURCH in Winchester is looking to break the stereotypes around religion and attract new people in the process.

The United Church in Jewry Street has recently started a new 'relaunch' programme, with plans to show the diversity of worshippers through a number of events in the next few years.

A few of the events have already been announced for December.

Tim Searle, minister at the church, said: "We want to be open to all and feel that we are an inclusive church where people may join us on a journey. "We’re a church in the Methodist and the United Reformed tradition, and whilst this certainly inspires and guides what we believe and do, our vision is very much about meeting people where they are and exploring a common walk with all."

He continued: "Sometimes we think of churchgoers in a very mono-cultural way, that we all believe the same things, we all look the same, we all have the same lives.

"Actually, if you dig down, we’ve all got very different lives and views on life.

"As well as those who worship with us, our church connects with a whole range of other people and communities.

"We’ve been looking at our vision for the next few years and as part of this we will be holding a series of days when the church will be open so that people can discover more about us."

The church will host three drop-in style open days on December 6, 7 and 8 between 10am and 4pm.

Free tea and coffee will be available.

Members have also said they wish to attract to the events people who have been put off of religion in the past.

Tim said: "I feel very sympathetic to people who have been put off by religion for one reason or another.

"Even as a Christian leader myself, I’ve had experiences of church or religiosity that lacks depth or where I have felt judged rather than accepted.

"We are a congregation that’s not afraid to talk about contentious subjects such as human sexuality or to challenge prejudice and intolerance."

Alongside widening its community, the church aims to improve the planet by reducing its use of resources.

Mission coordinator Jo Crocker said: "Like any person or any organisation, we leave a footprint.

"Living more lightly means trying to live in constructive ways where our environmental impact on carbon emissions or use of the world’s resources, our impact on biodiversity is minimised rather than let loose in a careless, reckless way."