SPECIAL celebrations are being held to mark the 50th anniversary of St John’s Church in Greenway Road, Widnes.

A service of thanksgiving takes place at 7pm, today and is open to everyone.

The Mayor of Halton, Clr Margaret Ratcliffe will join parishioners and former curates and members of this Anglican community for prayers this evening.

A concert and hot pot supper is being held on Saturday, a family picnic in the park on Sunday, and various church groups are holding special events throughout the week.

It is a momentous year for this church as the vicar, Rev Canon David Gait, who is also the area dean, retires in October, after serving for 36 years.

Parishioners have turned back the clock to collect photographs and films of the past half century.

Phil Scott, member of the parochial church council, has compiled the images in a hard back book and has also mounted an exhibition.

He said: “It is exciting. We have photographs going back over 50 years. There is also a film of the church being built and the rose queen celebrations we used to have.

“We have a few parishioners who have been here through all these years and have great memories.”

He hopes to have more copies of the book published.

He said St John’s has been involved with churches across Widnes to launch various communty projects including Widnes Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty which offers debt advice, and Street Pastors, volunteers who patrol the town centre on Saturday nights.

Parishioners also support communities overseas including the Bunyagira orphanage project in Uganda and the orphanage of Hogar el Alba in Argentina.

Mr Scott added: “The church has got to be out in the community where Jesus would be. We want to show people what the gospel is all about.”