WORSHIPPERS were able to meet face-to-face at a Winchester church for the first time after three months of separation.

The congregation of 25 at Christ Church shared the creed, draw from the Bible and pray together in a socially-distanced, simple Service of the Word that lasted for 45 minutes last Wednesday.

Despite having to sit two metres apart and wash their hands on the way in, those coming immediately felt close after weeks of only seeing each other virtually on screens and phones.

The church did look different with the new layout and the staff are considering alternative layouts to further increase the welcome whilst ensuring Covid-19 precautions.

Brian Wakelin, assistant minister, said: “The body of Christ is a physical as well as a spiritual one, and it is a great feeling to be able to worship corporately again.”

Sue Collinson, pastoral director said: “It is wonderful to see so many of our dearly loved friends together in the church, and we look forward to seeing more during the summer and as we open up further in the autumn.”

Churchgoer Graham Topping said: “This is a huge move forward after so many weeks of lockdown, and Christ Church is taking this initiative to demonstrate to the community the hope that this is the beginning of ‘springtime’ with positive signs of new life beginning to appear.”

Christ Church on Christchurch Road has more than 500 members and a large and lively community from all ages.

It organised online services and used Zoom for its groups’ meeting very early on in the lockdown.