Rev David to take a sabbatical in 2022

A photo of Rev David GreenThe Bishop of Tonbridge and the Diocese of Rochester have recently confirmed that our Vicar, Rev David Green, will be taking a Sabbatical between the 31st of January and the 1st of May in 2022.

A Sabbatical (or “Extended Ministerial Development Leave” to give its proper title) is a period of study leave defined as three calendar months away from the parish, in addition to the Vicar’s usual annual holiday allocation. It is expected that the sabbatical includes either the Christmas or Easter period so that the Vicar is away for one of the major festivals in the Christian year.

This sustained period away from normal duties promotes professional development and personal enrichment and will normally consist of three elements – some element of learning through study and theological reflection, a retreat to set aside time to renew the Vicar’s faith and relationship with God, and then also rest. For those Vicars who have family like David, as part of their rest a family holiday is recommended.

Having been ordained ten years, David was technically due for his EMDL in 2019 and was making early plans to take the sabbatical in 2020 when the Coronavirus Pandemic hit. Having now marked ten years service in our parishes and thirteen years overall as an ordained minister, and after a very busy and unusual period of ministry during the Pandemic, and with a new Curate due to join David in the Summer of 2022, the Bishop, Churchwardens, our Parochial Church Councils and David have all agreed that this is now the right time for the Sabbatical to take place.

Will we be able to contact Rev David during the Sabbatical?

The short answer is no. You will not be able to phone him or email him or call upon him for pastoral care or ministerial duties during those three months. It is also not acceptable to contact his wife Kerry and ask her to relay messages to David.

He will not be taking services of any kind, undertaking pastoral care, leading meetings, doing school assemblies, attending school governor or charitable trustee meetings or conducting any work connected to his role as the Vicar of our parishes.

While he will be travelling for some of the time, it’s entirely possible that you may see him around West Malling or Offham. Please don’t feel you have to ignore him, but please don’t talk to him about church business. He is taking a break.

How will the churches be operating while Rev David is away?

Plans have been put in place to keep things running as normally as possible. Some of our local retired Ministers, our Lay Ministers and other occasional preachers will be supplemented by guest Clergy from the Diocese of Rochester to cover our Sunday services, including Holy Week and Easter.

In Offham, the 9.15 a.m. Sunday service will take place each week as normal. In West Malling, the 10 o’clock service will take place each week and the Wednesday 9.30 a.m. service will also take place weekly. The 8 o’clock service will unfortunately only be able to take place on the first Sunday of each month.

Our administrator, Amy Southby, will continue to provide a contact point for christenings, weddings and funerals and will help to run the administrative side of parish life in David’s absence. The Vicarage phone line will re-direct to Amy. David’s email will also be checked regularly (but not by him).

There are some things we are still trying to work out. For example, how we run the Online Worship is an open question and you’ll see elsewhere on our website that we are looking for people to help.

Who’s in charge?

The Churchwardens are in charge of the parishes during David’s absence with support from our Area Dean, the Rev Wil North, for certain legal tasks like approving headstones or the reading of Banns for Marriage.

What will David be doing?

David is currently putting the final touches to his plan but he will be taking a Retreat week, he’s organising a week’s holiday in Cornwall with his wife and children, and for his studies he plans to travel and do some research into the last 18 months of the Pandemic and the experience of Online Worship. Through visiting other churches and speaking with their Clergy, he hopes to reflect on what’s been good, what’s been lost, what might stick long-term and how the church has grown. He will also be thinking theologically about questions of absolution, benediction and consecration over the Internet.

What is the church’s role during the Sabbatical?

  • Pray for David and his family.
  • Respect his time away from the parishes by not disturbing him.
  • Support the Churchwardens and our other Ministers by getting involved in the life of the church. Offer to help with some of the tasks that David often does.
  • And in case you are wondering, If you run into the family at the supermarket, yes you are allowed to talk to them.

Notices, 28 November 2021

Notices, 28 November 2021

Here are the latest notices and relevant information for the Benefice.

Covid restrictions for services in church

Both of our churches are continuing to implement restrictions to worship that were agreed after England moved to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have been implemented and continue to be in effect.

Advent Carol Service at St Mary’s this evening!

St Mary’s, West Malling are organising a special Advent Carol Service by candle-light on Sunday the 28th of November at 6.00 p.m. St Mary’s Choir and Choir Scholars, along with Richard Hammond-Hall as organist, are teaming up with Vox Anima, a very talented ladies chamber choir led by friend of our parishes, Jamie Meaders. If you would like to come and kick off your Advent with some atmospheric and reflective spirituality, you will be very welcome to join us.

Mayor’s Commissioning next Sunday at St Mary’s

Next Sunday morning at the 10 o’clock service in West Malling, we will be pleased to welcome Cllr Roger Roud and his family as he is commissioned as the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling.
Delayed from the Spring because of the Pandemic, we are pleased to be invited by the Mayor to host this service on his behalf. His chosen chaplain for this year, the Rev Jim Brown, will be with us to lead the service and to preach.

It is perhaps worth saying that in other respects, the 10 o’clock will be a normal Sunday morning act of worship. Everyone is very welcome. There’s no need to book ahead of time.

The service won’t be a service of Holy Communion, and instead will include a commissioning for the Mayor. Please do come along to enjoy the worship and to pray for the Mayor and for our local area as he is formally commissioned in his role. The service will also be live-streamed from this website and on YouTube.

Known and Loved 2022

Across all the local churches of the Malling area, today we are launching Known and Loved 2022, a mission project taking place in May 2022 in which churches and small groups of Christians will be encouraged to look outwards to bless our communities and proclaim that everyone is ‘known and loved’ by God.

More information will follow in due course as we move into the New Year, but you may like to watch this short video to help set the scene.

Website helpers needed

We need to find some technologically able folk who can help with setting-up live streams for Sunday worship. It involves a bit of microphone set-up and turning on cameras in church, and then preparing pages and pressing buttons on a website. If you can help (or are happy to learn and be trained), please speak to Rev David.

Lavenders Christmas Communion – Singers needed

On Wednesday the 22nd of December at 11 o’clock, Rev David and Margaret will be leading their regular service at the Lavenders Residential Care Home. Since it’s Christmas week, we’ll be adding in a few Carols and could use one or two singers to help. Please speak to Rev David or Margaret if interested.

St Michael’s starts Eco-Church journey

One of the five Anglican marks of mission is our care and stewardship of God’s creation. In common with other areas of business and life, the Church of England has set the target of churches working to Carbon Net Zero by 2030.

So where do we start? How do we know which actions will have the most effect? And how do we bring the rest of our churches with us?

A Rocha is a Christian charity which aims to advance the Christian faith and understanding of its relevance to the environment. The Eco Church Awards are A Rocha’s tool to help us (and other churches) celebrate what we already do well and make informed decisions about what to do next.

If you would be interested in being part of St Michael’s work in this regard and helping us to work towards Bronze, Silver or even Gold Awards, then sign up using the link and link your account to St Michael’s. If you’re having problems then contact Jane Jordan and she will try and help.

The scheme will help support us to look at what we currently do and what we could change (to improve what we do). With your help and involvement, we can complete the survey and then start working towards our first award!

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

Alan Vousden will be selling Christmas Cards with Christian themes again this year. £2.50 per pack and all the funds raised will go towards the Choral Scholar Fund at St Mary’s. On sale from the first Sunday in October.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 3rd of December.

Notices, 21 November 2021

Notices, 21 November 2021

Here are the latest notices and relevant information for the Benefice.

Covid restrictions for services in church

Both of our churches are continuing to implement restrictions to worship that were agreed after England moved to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have been implemented and continue to be in effect.

Christmas Floral Demonstration, West Malling, November 25th

West Malling Flowers are hosting an evening of floral festivities at St Mary’s on Thursday the 25th of November, 7pm – 9pm. Tickets are £15 and available from West Malling Flowers or online at westmallingflowers.co.uk.

Advent Carol Service at St Mary’s, Sunday November 28th

St Mary’s, West Malling are organising a special Advent Carol Service by candle-light on Sunday the 28th of November at 6.00 p.m. St Mary’s Choir and Choir Scholars, along with Richard Hammond-Hall as organist, are teaming up with Vox Anima, a very talented ladies chamber choir led by friend of our parishes, Jamie Meaders. If you would like to come and kick off your Advent with some atmospheric and reflective spirituality, you will be very welcome to join us.

Known and Loved 2022

Across all the local churches of the Malling area, today we are launching Known and Loved 2022, a mission project taking place in May 2022 in which churches and small groups of Christians will be encouraged to look outwards to bless our communities and proclaim that everyone is ‘known and loved’ by God.

More information will follow in due course as we move into the New Year, but you may like to watch this short video to help set the scene.

Poppy thank you at St Mary’s

Cherry, Joan and Gilly would like to thank everyone who has knitted poppies for us again this year at St Mary’s. A special thanks to the Nuns from the Abbey who made some as well, and also to David Day for helping us to hang our new displays. We couldn’t do it without you all!

Live stream and website helpers

We need to find some technologically able folk who can help with setting-up live streams for Sunday worship. It involves a bit of microphone set-up and turning on cameras in church, and then preparing pages and pressing buttons on a website. If you can help (or are happy to learn and be trained), please speak to Rev David.

Lavenders Christmas Communion – Singers needed

On Wednesday the 22nd of December at 11 o’clock, Rev David and Margaret will be leading their regular service at the Lavenders Residential Care Home. Since it’s Christmas week, we’ll be adding in a few Carols and could use one or two singers to help. Please speak to Rev David or Margaret if interested.

St Michael’s starts Eco-Church journey

One of the five Anglican marks of mission is our care and stewardship of God’s creation. In common with other areas of business and life, the Church of England has set the target of churches working to Carbon Net Zero by 2030.

So where do we start? How do we know which actions will have the most effect? And how do we bring the rest of our churches with us?

A Rocha is a Christian charity which aims to advance the Christian faith and understanding of its relevance to the environment. The Eco Church Awards are A Rocha’s tool to help us (and other churches) celebrate what we already do well and make informed decisions about what to do next.

If you would be interested in being part of St Michael’s work in this regard and helping us to work towards Bronze, Silver or even Gold Awards, then sign up using the link and link your account to St Michael’s. If you’re having problems then contact Jane Jordan and she will try and help.

The scheme will help support us to look at what we currently do and what we could change (to improve what we do). With your help and involvement, we can complete the survey and then start working towards our first award!

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

Alan Vousden will be selling Christmas Cards with Christian themes again this year. £2.50 per pack and all the funds raised will go towards the Choral Scholar Fund at St Mary’s. On sale from the first Sunday in October.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 26th of November.

Notices, 14 November 2021

Notices, 14 November 2021

Here are the latest notices and relevant information for the Benefice.

Covid restrictions for services in church

Both of our churches are continuing to implement restrictions to worship that were agreed after England moved to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have been implemented and continue to be in effect.

Poppy thank you at St Mary’s

Cherry, Joan and Gilly would like to thank everyone who has knitted poppies for us again this year at St Mary’s. A special thanks to the Nuns from the Abbey who made some as well, and also to David Day for helping us to hang our new displays. We couldn’t do it without you all!

Known and Loved 2022

Across all the local churches of the Malling area, today we are launching Known and Loved 2022, a mission project taking place in May 2022 in which churches and small groups of Christians will be encouraged to look outwards to bless our communities and proclaim that everyone is ‘known and loved’ by God.

More information will follow in due course as we move into the New Year, but you may like to watch this short video to help set the scene.

Advent Carol Service at St Mary’s

St Mary’s, West Malling are organising a special Advent Carol Service by candle-light on Sunday the 28th of November at 6.00 p.m. St Mary’s Choir and Choir Scholars, along with Richard Hammond-Hall as organist, are teaming up with Vox Anima, a very talented ladies chamber choir led by friend of our parishes, Jamie Meaders. If you would like to come and kick off your Advent with some atmospheric and reflective spirituality, you will be very welcome to join us.

New Archdeacon of Tonbridge announced

On Sunday the 24th of October, it was announced that the Rev Sharon Copestake will be the new Archdeacon of Tonbridge. Sharon is currently the Vicar of St Francis, Strood and Area Dean of Strood.

Sharon has been at St Francis since 2015 and prior to ordination held a number of roles, including within the Strategic Development Directorate of Kent County Council, and Counsellor and Therapist in private practice and at the Wisdom Hospice.
There will be a service of licensing for Sharon at St Stephen’s, Tonbridge on Sunday 16 January 2022 at 3pm, with further details of this and other aspects of her welcome to follow.

CAP Money Course dates

The CAP Money Course is a free course that teaches budgeting skills and a simple, cash-based system that works. In just a few weeks, it helps people get to grips with your finances so you can budget, save and prevent debt (or deal with debts you already have). All the below courses will be run on Zoom, and it may be possible to run courses at Abbey View House on Swan Street, West Malling, when Covid restrictions permit.

The courses will run from 1930hrs – 2100hrs on Tuesday evenings and the new course is running on 9th, 16th & 23rd November. To find out more or sign-up, you can contact John Gledhill on john.gledhill@freeuk.com or 07817 909181.

Live stream and website helpers

We need to find some technologically able folk who can help with setting-up live streams for Sunday worship. It involves a bit of microphone set-up and turning on cameras in church, and then preparing pages and pressing buttons on a website. If you can help (or are happy to learn and be trained), please speak to Rev David.

St Michael’s starts Eco-Church journey

One of the five Anglican marks of mission is our care and stewardship of God’s creation. In common with other areas of business and life, the Church of England has set the target of churches working to Carbon Net Zero by 2030.

So where do we start? How do we know which actions will have the most effect? And how do we bring the rest of our churches with us?

A Rocha is a Christian charity which aims to advance the Christian faith and understanding of its relevance to the environment. The Eco Church Awards are A Rocha’s tool to help us (and other churches) celebrate what we already do well and make informed decisions about what to do next.

If you would be interested in being part of St Michael’s work in this regard and helping us to work towards Bronze, Silver or even Gold Awards, then sign up using the link and link your account to St Michael’s. If you’re having problems then contact Jane Jordan and she will try and help.

The scheme will help support us to look at what we currently do and what we could change (to improve what we do). With your help and involvement, we can complete the survey and then start working towards our first award!

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

Alan Vousden will be selling Christmas Cards with Christian themes again this year. £2.50 per pack and all the funds raised will go towards the Choral Scholar Fund at St Mary’s. On sale from the first Sunday in October.

Christmas Floral Demonstration, West Malling

West Malling Flowers are hosting an evening of floral festivities at St Mary’s on Thursday the 25th of November, 7pm – 9pm. Tickets are £15 and available from West Malling Flowers or online at westmallingflowers.co.uk.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Saturday the 20th of November.

Notices, 7 November 2021

Notices, 7 November 2021

Here are the latest notices and relevant information for the Benefice.

Covid restrictions for services in church

Both of our churches are continuing to implement restrictions to worship that were agreed after England moved to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have been implemented and continue to be in effect.

All Saints Annual Memorial Service, 7 November, 6pm

This year’s Annual Memorial Service for West Malling and Offham takes place on Sunday, 7 November at 6.00 p.m. at St Mary’s. We have written to everyone for whom we conducted a funeral in the last two years to invite them (last year’s service was cancelled because of Covid restrictions).

If you, or someone you know, would like to come and remember a loved one, you are very welcome. It’s helpful if you can contact us to let us know who you wish to remember (however long ago they died), and how many people are coming with you. Please contact us to let us know.

Remembrance Sunday, 14 November

Remembrance Sunday this year is the 14th of November. We will be having our regular Sunday services including the Act of Remembrance that day at 9.15 a.m. in Offham and 10 o’clock in West Malling. The West Malling Civic Service of Remembrance will be taking place at 2.30 p.m.

Known and Loved 2022

Across all the local churches of the Malling area, today we are launching Known and Loved 2022, a mission project taking place in May 2022 in which churches and small groups of Christians will be encouraged to look outwards to bless our communities and proclaim that everyone is ‘known and loved’ by God.

More information will follow in due course as we move into the New Year, but you may like to watch this short video to help set the scene.

New Archdeacon of Tonbridge announced

On Sunday the 24th of October, it was announced that the Rev Sharon Copestake will be the new Archdeacon of Tonbridge. Sharon is currently the Vicar of St Francis, Strood and Area Dean of Strood.

Sharon has been at St Francis since 2015 and prior to ordination held a number of roles, including within the Strategic Development Directorate of Kent County Council, and Counsellor and Therapist in private practice and at the Wisdom Hospice.
There will be a service of licensing for Sharon at St Stephen’s, Tonbridge on Sunday 16 January 2022 at 3pm, with further details of this and other aspects of her welcome to follow.

Children’s Society thank you at St Mary’s

The recent Box Opening for The Children’s Society raised just over £500. Many thanks to all who currently have a box in which they keep their spare change. We open the boxes every year and send the money to the Society.  If anyone would like to have a box and take part next time, please contact Jill Rutland.

Poppy thank you at St Mary’s

Cherry, Joan and Gilly would like to thank everyone who has knitted poppies for us again this year at St Mary’s. A special thanks to the Nuns from the Abbey who made some as well, and also to David Day for helping us to hang our new displays. We couldn’t do it without you all!

West Malling ‘Pledge Tree’ for COP 26

The Kings Hill and West Malling Eco Hub (link to Facebook) are planning to install a “Pledge Tree” in West Malling from Friday 5th November at 4pm for the remaining week of COP26.

The tree will be in the centre of West Malling; inspiring more people to commit to action that will reduce their environmental impact. We encourage you to make pledges on leaves provided and add them to the tree.

CAP Money Course dates

The CAP Money Course is a free course that teaches budgeting skills and a simple, cash-based system that works. In just a few weeks, it helps people get to grips with your finances so you can budget, save and prevent debt (or deal with debts you already have).
All the below courses will be run on Zoom, and it may be possible to run courses at Abbey View House on Swan Street, West Malling, when Covid restrictions permit.

The courses will run from 1930hrs – 2100hrs on Tuesday evenings and the new course is running on 9th, 16th & 23rd November. To find out more or sign-up, you can contact John Gledhill on john.gledhill@freeuk.com or 07817 909181.

Live stream and website helpers

We need to find some technologically able folk who can help with setting-up live streams for Sunday worship. It involves a bit of microphone set-up and turning on cameras in St Mary’s, and then preparing pages and pressing buttons on a website. If you can help (or are happy to learn and be trained), please speak to Rev David.

St Michael’s starts Eco-Church journey

One of the five Anglican marks of mission is our care and stewardship of God’s creation. In common with other areas of business and life, the Church of England has set the target of churches working to Carbon Net Zero by 2030.

So where do we start? How do we know which actions will have the most effect? And how do we bring the rest of our churches with us?

A Rocha is a Christian charity which aims to advance the Christian faith and understanding of its relevance to the environment. The Eco Church Awards are A Rocha’s tool to help us (and other churches) celebrate what we already do well and make informed decisions about what to do next.

If you would be interested in being part of St Michael’s work in this regard and helping us to work towards Bronze, Silver or even Gold Awards, then sign up using the link and link your account to St Michael’s. If you’re having problems then contact Jane Jordan and she will try and help.

The scheme will help support us to look at what we currently do and what we could change (to improve what we do). With your help and involvement, we can complete the survey and then start working towards our first award!

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

Alan Vousden will be selling Christmas Cards with Christian themes again this year. £2.50 per pack and all the funds raised will go towards the Choral Scholar Fund at St Mary’s. On sale from the first Sunday in October.

Christmas Floral Demonstration, West Malling

West Malling Flowers are hosting an evening of floral festivities at St Mary’s on Thursday the 25th of November, 7pm – 9pm. Tickets are £15 and available from West Malling Flowers or online at westmallingflowers.co.uk.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 12th of November.

Stage 4 out of Lockdown

On 16 July, the House of Bishops’ Covid-19 recovery group issued new guidance in response to the Government decision to move the nation to ‘step 4’ on the roadmap out of Lockdown. The approach taken by the Government in this step is to remove most coronavirus legislation but to promote guidance that emphasises personal responsibility.

Our Vicar, Lay Ministers and retired Clergy colleagues, our Churchwardens and the PCC have considered this new phase of life and we are providing our agreed plan online and in letters sent to members of the Electoral Roll in both churches.

Within the Church we believe that everyone is known and loved individually by God and that as many members within one body we are called to be responsible to and for one another, respecting the more vulnerable whose suffering is our suffering (1 Cor 12:12-27).

Within the New Testament, we also see the principle clearly established that those who are ‘stronger’ should curtail their relative strength in order that ‘weaker’ brethren are not caused to stumble (Romans 14). For a while yet, we will be a mixture of able-bodied people and less able-bodied people in a complex Venn diagram that overlaps with those who have been vaccinated twice, those who have yet to be offered their second jab, and those who (for whatever reason) have not been vaccinated at all. We believe it is imperative, therefore, to curtail some of our freedoms so that all may walk in pilgrimage together.

Each set of Churchwardens and PCC has to act for itself and decide what’s best and there are differences between our two churches that mean the rules are broadly similar, but there are one or two key differences for each venue. Those differences are clarified below. With our individual contexts and such theological principles in mind, we have updated our risk assessments and agreed a plan. It could be considered cautious but it also represents careful and steady progress.

Pattern of services

  • From Sunday the 15th of August, the Sunday 8 o’clock service at St Mary’s, West Malling will re-start.
  • The Wednesday 9.30 a.m. service at St Mary’s, which was started in the last year, will also continue.
  • Offham’s 9.15 a.m. Sunday service continues as normal with All-Age Worship on the 1st Sunday of the month and either Morning Prayer or Common Worship Holy Communion on the other Sundays.
  • West Malling’s 10 o’clock Sunday service continues as normal. From September, with the launch of our new Choral Scholars project, All-Age Worship will continue on the 2nd Sunday of the month with the choir invited on 1st and 3rd Sundays. The fourth Sunday will be either Morning Prayer or said Holy Communion. Choral Evensong will take place roughly once a quarter.

Capacity and seating and face coverings

  • In Offham, from Sunday the 15th of August, the A and B labelling on the pews will be removed and we will no longer use a fortnightly rotation of attendance. There is no need to book to attend church. Just come when you want to come.
  • In West Malling, we will retain the A and B labelling on the pews. For Wednesday and Sunday services, we will continue to use that pattern and the deliberate spacing of people. We have a big church and we will use that space sensibly to keep people distanced. There is no need to book to attend church. Just come when you want to come.
  • For Weddings and Funerals, we will allow full capacity attendance.
  • Social distancing is still required but the key distance is now 1m+ and not 2m.
  • We continue to request that you sanitize your hands when you enter the building and wear a face covering throughout the service (unless you are medically exempt).

Liturgy

  • From Sunday the 15th of August, in both churches, we will resume singing. Congregations will not remove their face coverings to sing. The Choir at St Mary’s will not wear face coverings to sing but they will use the spit screens.
  • From Sunday the 15th of August, we will resume the use of our seasonal Service Booklets and the Hymn Books. If you have been keeping church hymn books or prayer books at home, we would be grateful if you could now bring them back. Between services the books will be quarantined for 72 hours.
  • Holy Communion continues to be received in one kind (wafer only) because the One Cup is still suspended. We plan to explore ways of enabling the presiding Priest to intinct (dip) each wafer before distribution so each person could get bread and wine.
  • At St Mary’s in West Malling, children’s work cannot re-start yet because we lack sufficient leaders. Volunteers welcome!
  • At St Michael’s in Offham, children’s work is re-starting.

Opening for private prayer

  • From Monday the 9th of August, both churches will once again be left open during daylight hours for individual, unsupervised private prayer.
  • Those who wish to visit should sanitize their hands on entry and use a face covering.

Pastoral visits

  • Clergy and Lay Ministers may now undertake Pastoral Visits. If you are house-bound and would like Home Communion, or would otherwise appreciate a pastoral visit at home, please do ask. Rev David and our pastoral carers will be available for visits from Monday the 9th of August onwards. We would expect to wear a mask and sanitize our hands when visiting you at home.

Online worship

Online worship continues to be provided each week. We have recently acquired the ability to live-stream services at St Mary’s and we’re currently testing that out. Going forward, we anticipate a mixture of pre-recorded and live material for those who cannot attend.

What is not coming back yet

  • The Common Chalice at Holy Communion.
  • Use of kneelers or pew cushions or other soft furnishings.
  • Freedom to sit where you like. Social distancing of 1m+ between household groups remain key.
  • Physical contact at the Peace.
  • The Offertory bags are not being handed around. A Plate is at the back of each church. St Mary’s can handle contactless card giving. We continue to encourage giving by Standing Order as the best way to give.
  • At St Mary’s in West Malling, for the time being, we will continue to use a Nave Altar.

It is vitally important that we continue to look after one another and support each other, regardless of circumstance or health or vaccination status. It is really important to us as leaders that no-one feels excluded or unable to participate and we would reject any notion that only the vaccinated, or any other division of people, are allowed to be included in our church’s life. So please do contact us if you would like to ask questions, talk about our plans or if there is any other help or support we can offer. Please be assured of our continued prayers for you during these difficult and extraordinary days.

Rev David Green,
the Lay and Ordained Ministers,
the Churchwardens and PCCs
of West Malling and Offham
22 July 2021

Re-opening our church buildings

We are pleased to be able to announce that our church buildings in West Malling and Offham will re-open for Public Worship from Sunday, the 14th of March 2021: Mothering Sunday.

Having consulted with our Churchwardens, our local Retired Clergy, Lay Ministers and PCCs to canvass opinions, together we have agreed that we feel now is the right time to re-open.

While we were always confident in our risk assessment and the safety of Public Worship (with our Covid-19 restrictions) throughout this closure, it felt right to suspend gatherings because of the grave situation for the country as a whole. In solidarity with all those other organisations, businesses and charities that were not allowed to open, we also closed our doors and continued via online worship only.

With the Government’s roadmap now established and an increasing number of sectors starting to re-open, we feel the time is now right to resume Public Worship. We will follow the same pattern that was in place from July to Christmas last year with services on Sunday in West Malling and Offham and one on Wednesday (using the BCP) in West Malling. 2m distancing, face coverings, no congregational singing and all other Covid-safety restrictions are still in place. As the year progresses, and if things further improve, we may be given permission to relax some of those restrictions.

We are also aware that an increasing number of people have had their first vaccination and now we are at a point nationally where anyone over 56 years of age has the chance to receive it. That doesn’t yet help your Vicar (!) but it does help a good proportion of the various congregations.

At Offham, sadly we must continue with the eight household limit and a fortnightly rota of attendance. The Churchwardens will be in touch about that with members of St Michael’s. At St Mary’s, the limit is 26 households and the expectation is that there should be no need to book ahead given the greater capacity.

No-one should feel obliged to attend if they wish to take a more cautious approach. We will continue to offer Online Worship for those who would still like to worship with us in that way – whether because of their circumstances, or out of understandable caution for their health and the health of others.

If you have any questions or comments you wish to make, please do contact us in the usual way. If you are in need in any way, please do ask for help. We will be very pleased to help and speak with you.

Rev David Green
10 March 2021
on behalf of himself, the Churchwardens and PCCs
of West Malling and Offham