A NEW church is being launched in Dorchester tomorrow.

The River of Life Metropolitan Community Church will be officially launched at 6pm on Sunday at The Arts Centre, School Lane, The Grove.

Church pastor, The Rev Catherine Dearlove, says the church will be ‘liberal and open’ and anyone wishing to attend and find out more will be welcome.

Mrs Dearlove, who entered a civil partnership with her partner Karen two years ago, said the church aims to bring people of different beliefs together.

She said: “It usually throws people a little when they find out about my partner and you hear people saying: ‘A gay vicar? That’s weird.’ “But it’s not an issue for most people and what we say at the church is that we want to help people explore the diversity of life.

“We want to allow people to explore who they are.

“We are definitely not a fundamental church; we are more liberal and open and, I think, a little more charismatic.”

Mrs Dearlove, who also works for the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children, said the first service will include a blessing and commissioning statement but will otherwise be like the Sunday meetings due to continue at the centre every Sunday from now on.

Mrs Dearlove was ordained earlier this month at Dorchester Town Hall despite having qualified as a pastor the previous month.

She currently lives in Poole with her partner, after having spent several years living and training in Australia, but says she hopes to move to Dorchester soon.

The new church is affiliated to the international Metropolitan Community Churches body.

A spokesman for the body described the new Dorchester church as ‘fully inclusive’.

He added: “We welcome everyone who embraces and celebrates the diversity of life and humanity. We share the unconditional love of God by offering a supportive, healthy, healing environment in which people can worship, grow and explore the Christian faith.

“We actively seek to play a part in ending oppression in society by addressing social justices in our local and wider community.

“Our vision is to be a Christian community that seeks the help of God in the journey along the river of life.”

For more information about the new church visit www.river-of-life.org.uk or www.riveroflifedorset.blogspot.com