ST AUGUSTINE’S Church in Rodbourne is taking risks in an effort to boost its numbers and open its doors to the community, according to its priest in charge.

On Saturday morning, members of the wider community were invited to attend a series of pancake races, or a pancake breakfast for those less adventurous, at the church.

The opening of the doors was described as a risk which churches, including their own, needed to be taking, by Rev Harvey Gibbons.

The priest in charge, who also oversees matters at St Barnabas and All Saints churches, has been at the Summers Street organisation for nine months and says he has been impressed by his congregation’s enthusiasm.

“They are very enthusiastic, energetic, into new ideas and ways of promoting the gospel,” said Rev Gibbons.

“That’s being worked on all the time. Promoting the gospel is what we’re here for.

“They’re not afraid to take risks – like opening the doors to the public.

“They can see things like this as a risk. The church is getting better at being more open to the idea of doing things differently.”

One of the church wardens responsible for organising the event agreed and said the aim was to give people another insight into what church life can be like.

Lee Thompson, 48, of Marlborough Road, said: “This is a parish exercise. We wanted to open it up to anyone who wants to come along.”

Lee has been a warden for three years and initially joined up with the congregation as a resident of nearby Bruce Street.

As a result of his experience at the forefront of church life, Lee is not expecting an immediate rush of new members to flood in, though he hopes events like Saturday’s can go some way to encouraging others to join up.

“The boosting of numbers is a by-product of opening our doors to society,” he said.

“A lot of people don’t see the relevance of church in today’s setting.

“We want to open the doors and let them see that church isn’t a boring Sunday morning activity and that we are human and we like a good time.”

Across a two-hour period children of all ages ran up and down the church hall with frying pans, flipping their pancakes as they went.

The unconventional crowd-drawer will be followed by a church quiz later this month.

At 7.30pm on Friday, March 14 in St Augustine’s the quiz will be held. All are welcome.