ORGANISERS of a new church team for Hamworthy are hoping to spark a wave of community engagement.

A new vicar for the area of Poole will be leading a church graft supported by the Bishop of Salisbury. The move is the first of its kind in the diocese.

Today Rev Tessa Nisbet will lead her first service as the vicar for St Michael’s and St Gabriel’s churches.

The twinned churches on the Hamworthy and Turlin Moor estates have both suffered from dwindling congregations, in line with a broader national trend of church decline.

Rev Nisbet is joining Hamworthy along with a “graft” team of around 20 churchgoers from the thriving church of St Mary’s Longfleet (SML), in the centre of Poole.

Going against the national picture, which has seen the number of churchgoers fall from more than 30 per cent of the population in 1930 to just 10.3 per cent in 2013, SML has seen steady congregation growth over the past 20 years.

Due to this success, vicar Andy Perry has agreed to send a team of 20 from the church to support Rev Nisbet. This is a form of church planting known as a graft.

Rev Nisbet says she hopes her new team, and the congregations of St Michael’s and St Gabriel’s churches, will bring a new lease of life to Hamworthy as they join together to serve the community.

Her institution, induction and installation as the Rector of St Michael’s and St Gabriel’s took place on Tuesday evening.

“It is a huge responsibility, but more than anything I’m very excited and hopeful that it will be a success,” Rev Nisbet said.

“I think one of the issues that has impacted on people going to church is there is so much for people to do on a Sunday and there are now so many ways people try to find happiness.

“We are trying to create opportunities for people to engage in faith in different ways, whether that means different times of the week or in home groups for example.

“It is all about trying to find out what works for the people here. I’m hoping to do something fun that engages with the community.”

The “launch” church service takes place at 10am at St Michael’s Church in Hamworthy today.