A REVEREND has pledged to “feed the 5,000” after being installed as the new vicar at one of Andover’s oldest places of worship.

Rev’d Chris Bradish was installed in his new role at St Mary’s Church by Right Reverend David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke on Sunday, March 3.

“It is a great privilege to be vicar of St Mary’s,” said Chris.

“I can’t wait to meet the people of Andover and food brings us together, so let’s eat – at the burger van, in schools, on the high street, in homes and in church.”

Chris’ plan is part of the church’s new ‘feed the 5,000’ initiative.

St Mary’s is aiming to share 5,000 meals with the people of Andover over the course of the coming year, having drawn inspiration from both the bible and the history of the town.

“It’s a really obvious bible story about Jesus feeding the 5,000, but it’s also one that’s relevant to Andover.

“Back in 1887, there was a public dinner on the High Street where 5,000 men, women and children came together and celebrated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.”

A plaque outside the Guildhall commemorates the event, and Chris hopes his church and the current community can recapture that spirit.

“We are really up for having fun with this. It’s not about being too serious, it’s just about having fun in our town.

“If Jesus fed 5,000 in one sitting, 5,000 meals in a year should be easy.”

Chris’s arrival is part of the Church of England’s response to the changing face of the town, as growing numbers of people – particularly young professionals and families – continue to move into the area.

Chris worked as a lawyer in the City of London before training for the priesthood. He was then ordained in 2016 and served a curacy in Alton before joining the clergy team at Holy Trinity Brompton in London.

“Like many others in Andover, we have moved as a family from London to be here.

“I am looking forward to meeting people from all walks of life over the coming months and to learning what it means to be an Andoverian.

“Andover has a proud and rich history. St Mary’s is an important part of that story, but I am looking forward even more to Andover’s future.

“It’s all to play for and I can’t wait to be part of it.”

Bishop Williams added: “As Andover develops and changes, it is so important that our local church evolves with it.

“Our role as a Christian community should be to reach out to everyone, whether they have previously encountered faith or not, and make them feel welcome.

“St Mary’s already plays an important role in doing that in Andover, but I hope with Chris’ arrival its place at the centre of the community will only grow.”