THE vicar of St Mark’s Church, Gold Tops, Newport, believes there are grounds for optimism in an increasingly difficult time for the church.

The Rev Dr Paul Thompson, 60, only moved into the vicarage with his wife a few months ago but has already put plans together to reinvigorate St Mark’s.

St Mark’s, which has been in existence for more than 100 years, faced a difficult transition after the retirement of former vicar Rev Canon Andrew Willie, but its congregation remain optimistic.

Rev Thompson said: “About six months ago, some people said it would close with the decline in numbers but that’s not the case. We’re open for business.

“Over the past 60 or 70 years, the church hasn’t always been good for the needs of communities but we need to do something with both residents and the business community.

“It’s about relating, generationally, to younger families and finding ways to have the church, as a building, open during the day.” Recent remodelling work and improvements to the vestry have been made, but limited funds mean St Mark’s is keeping realistic expectations.

The ideas Rev Thompson has planned include a monthly police surgery, a potential lunchtime canteen, and evening concerts.

He said: “It’s all about growing the facility and doing all we can in the next seven or eight years.

“We’re fairly confident we can improve the situation.” St Mark’s Harvest thanksgiving service is on Sunday, with gifts of dried and tinned food welcomed for donation to the city’s food bank.

Normal Sunday services take place at 10.30am and 6pm while Wednesday Eucharist is at 11am.

The church is also open for prayer each Wednesday from 12.30pm-2pm.