‘Portable priest’ aiming to deliver hope across London

A vicar is hoping to lift the spirits of Londoners by offering a mobile church service in response to the coronavirus crisis.

“Portable priest” Pat Allerton has been visiting residential streets in the capital to deliver a prayer and play a hymn through a speaker amid mass closures of places of worship.

The 41-year-old, who says he is observing social distancing and regards the travel as essential, holds a 10-minute service from his car at a different spot every day.

The 41-year-old hopes to “lift spirits” during the pandemic (Pat Allerton/Handout)
The 41-year-old hopes to “lift spirits” during the pandemic (Pat Allerton/Handout)

“It’s just a community activity and it’s not as if we’ve got a lot else to do, why don’t you just join in,” he told the PA news agency.

“Come to your window or your doorway and join in the singing, be part of your neighbourhood and community for that brief moment.”

The vicar at St Peter’s church in Notting Hill, who was ordained in 2010, said he would stop “in a moment” if told to do so by authorities.

But he hopes he will be able to continuing “lifting spirits” during the pandemic after receiving thousands of messages of thanks online.

Rev Allerton said: “I think any Christian community and faith community would see it as essential work, because in these times hope is essential.

“And that’s what it is all about, it’s about bringing hope to people. And what is more essential than hope in the last few weeks?

“I know it is sensitive and driving around has been tricky because I do recognise there is a lot of worry, there’s a lot of fear, and I don’t want to add to that in any way.”

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A post shared by Pat Allerton (@portobellopriest) on Mar 26, 2020 at 12:40pm PDT

Rev Allerton said he is now considering walking to the destinations rather than driving to minimise his travel.

He said: “I felt it could be a battle, not everyone is open to faith, and that’s why you have to get the balance right and not impose it on people.

“I recognise at every moment someone might shout ‘why don’t you just do one’ but we haven’t had that yet.

“It seems to have captured a bit of the imagination and brings a bit of joy, I’m here just to lift spirits a bit, if nothing else.”