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Jo has taken charge of her first church

NEW vicar Jo King is happy to link her North Bersted church with a pub.


The unofficial association helps her to direct newcomers to the often overlooked Holy Cross Church.


“I just tell people the church is next to the ‘Pink Pub’ (The Royal Oak). Everybody in West Sussex knows where the ‘Pink Pub’ is,” she said.


The church is located at the junction of Chichester Road and North Bersted Street across the road from the well-known pub.


The Rev King arrived as the church’s priest in charge earlier this month.


She had been the curate at St Thomas a’Becket Church in Pagham for four years. That was her first job in the Church of England. She describes it as similar to an apprenticeship.


“I have been in the CofE all my life,” she said. “I love the mix of things I get to do.


“I get to hang out with all sorts of different people of different ages and from different backgrounds.


“There are people who have never been to the church before and people who have been attending for years. No two days are ever the same.”


Mrs King, 46, was a primary school teacher for many years during her earlier working life in the education sector.


She has lived in the Bognor Regis, Chichester and Portsmouth areas for the past 20 years. She is married and has two daughters, aged seven and 15.


She succeeded the Rev Ann Clarke as one of Holy Cross Church’s few vicars.


It is the newest parish in the Bognor Regis area, with a priest in charge from 2001 – but its origins date from 1880.


It was then the thatched Cross Cottage, formerly a blacksmith, and licensed by the Bishop of Chichester for divine service. In 1894, a mission hall was built.


This is now the nave and was a daughter of St Mary Magdalene Church in South Bersted and served by one of its curates. A chancel was added in 1930 and enlarged further in 1973. Ten years later, and the church stopped being a sister church and became a conventional district.


Mrs King said the main Sunday service attracted an average congregation of some 50 worshippers aged two to 90.


“I think the church still makes quite a difference to communities,” she added. “It is a place people come to and meet and, if its hall was taken away, it would affect a lot of groups. It is busy throughout the week.


“A church is one of the few places where people of all ages can come together without being frightened of each other.”

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