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Coronavirus: ‘Portable priest’ offers mobile church service to lift spirits of Londoners

‘In these times hope is essential,’ vicar says

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 08 April 2020 14:51 BST
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‘Portable priest’ aiming to deliver hope across London

A vicar is trying to boost the spirits of Londoners throughout the coronavirus pandemic by putting on a mobile church service for those who wish to attend.

Pat Allerton, otherwise known as the “portable priest“, was ordained as a vicar in 2010 and operates at St Peter’s Church in Notting Hill.

Following the closures of places of worship as part of the nationwide lockdown, Rev Allerton has been visiting residential streets in London where he delivers a prayer and a hymn through a speaker from his car.

Every day, the vicar provides the 10-minute service from a different spot, stating that he is making sure to practise social distancing. He regards the travel he is conducting as essential.

“It’s just a community activity and it’s not as if we’ve got a lot else to do, why don’t you just join in?” the 41-year-old told the PA news agency.

“Come to your window or your doorway and join in the singing, be part of your neighbourhood and community for that brief moment.”

Rev Allerton said that if he were ordered by the authorities to halt his mobile church services, he would do so “in a moment”.

“I think any Christian community and faith community would see it as essential work, because in these times hope is essential,” he stated.

“And that’s what it is all about, it’s about bringing hope to people. And what is more essential than hope in the last few weeks?”

(Pat Allerton/PA Wire (Pat Allerton/PA Wire)

Rev Allerton said that he understands the importance of being “sensitive”, explaining that driving around to deliver his mobile church services has been “tricky” due to there being “a lot of worry”.

“There’s a lot of fear, and I don’t want to add to that in any way,” he said.

The vicar stated that he may stop driving to deliver his services in favour of walking.

“I felt it could be a battle, not everyone is open to faith, and that’s why you have to get the balance right and not impose it on people,” he said.

“I recognise at every moment someone might shout, ‘Why don’t you just do one’ but we haven’t had that yet.”

Rev Allerton said his initiative “seems to have captured a bit of the imagination and brings a bit of joy”.

“I’m just here to lift spirits a bit, if nothing else,” he added.

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