FAR from letting the weather dampen their spirits, the congregation of one church rejoiced in the rain as they celebrated outside.

Attendees of Claremont Church, in St George's Road, gathered in Queens Park on Sunday as part of the popular Church in the Park event open to the whole community.

The event, now in its fourth year, sees hundreds of people from the surrounding area come together to connect in the fresh air and learn about each other.

Ahead of the big day, church administrator Bill Mason welcomed all to the service, saying: "We just want to say to people, 'Hi, we're you're neighbours and we would love to get to know you'.

"It came about because we were very aware that there are more and more buildings going up around us and hardly in the church lived nearby."

This year's efforts included a football competition, musical performances, testimonies and a free barbecue.

One member of the congregation says the event proved a hit once again.

Lita Pudaruth, from Astley, said: "Everything went so well.

"We had some people who came in the morning and then fresh faces in the afternoon. I went out of my way to welcome people who I had never met before, people who had come for the first time.

"We got to greet people, ask them questions about what brought them here, and invite them to church."

Ms Pudaruth has been going to the church for six months and says that she was excited to attend the event led by the church she has come to call "home".

She said: "We're loving people.

"It was all about just worshipping God, hearing testimonies and building relationships.

"It was great to get to know each other because this is what they used to do in the early church. It's all about getting to know your family."

Mr Mason added: "What we find is that people walk by and they will nip in for a few minutes.

"It's always surprising but people stop and listen to the message and that's great."

The non-denominational church is led by pastor Steve Powell, who has held the position for around eight years.

Usually services held at the church building involve around 60 people.