Christmas Tree Festival 2018

Photo of a church with Christmas Trees festivalSt Mary’s, West Malling is delighted to help kick-off your Advent preparations with a special Christmas Tree Festival on the weekend of December 1st and 2nd this year.

A new experiment for West Malling, we have invited a plethora of local organisations, charities and businesses to come to church that weekend and set-up their own Christmas Tree and promote their activities. We are pleased to say that around 20 separate groups are coming and the church will be festooned with wonderful and very different trees.

Entrance is free and you can come along anytime between 12 noon and 6 p.m. each day on Saturday the 1st of December or Sunday the 2nd of December to see the trees. Donations are welcome and refreshments will also be available.

Christmas Tree FestivalIf you come along on Sunday, why not combine it with a trip down the High Street to take part in the switching on of West Malling’s Christmas Lights.

Advent & Christmas Services 2018

Photo of a church with Christmas Trees festival

Christmas Tree Festival
1 & 2 December

This is the complete rundown of all the Advent and Christmas special events and services taking place in Offham and West Malling this year.

Sat 1 Dec and Sun 2 Dec, 12 noon till 6 pm. St Mary’s Christmas Tree Festival
St Mary’s, West Malling. Find out more on this website.

Sun 9 Dec, 5.00 pm West Malling Community Choir Christmas Concert
St Mary’s, West Malling. Find out more on the WMCC website.

Wed 12 Dec, 7.00 pm Heart of Kent Hospice Christmas Concert
St Mary’s, West Malling. Find out more on the HoKH website.

Fri 14 Dec, 7.00 pm Vox Anima Christmas Concert
St Mary’s, West Malling. Find out more on the Vox Anima website.

Christingle service at Offham

Offham Christingle (16 December)

Sun 16 Dec, 4.00 pm Christingle service, Offham
St Michael’s, Offham
An afternoon candle-lit service for all the family with carols, a family-friendly talk from our Vicar and Christingles for all the children.

Sun 16 Dec, 6.00 pm Come and Sing! Handel’s Messiah
St Mary’s, West Malling
Jamie Meaders will lead a choir of over 100 people in rehearsals from 2pm onwards with anyone welcome to sign-up to ‘Come and Sing’. £15 per singer. At 6pm, accompanied by soloists, strings and harpsichord, we will sing together the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah. Hallelujah!

Tue 18 Dec, 8.00 pm Carol service, Offham
St Michael’s, Offham
An evening candle-lit service of Christmas readings and carols with guest Richard King and friends leading a special guest choir to complement the congregation’s singing!

A photo of the choir from the Carol Service at Offham, 2012

Richard King and friends,
Offham Carol Service (18 December)

Wed 19 Dec, 9.30 am West Malling CEP School Christmas Service
St Mary’s, West Malling

Thu 20 Dec, 7.30 pm Carols in The King’s Arms, Offham
The King’s Arms Pub, Offham
The King’s Arms play host to an evening of carol singing with the odd glass of mulled wine in three to lubricate the vocal chords!

Sun 23 Dec, 7.00 pm Carol service, West Malling
St Mary’s, West Malling
Readings and carols telling the Christmas story. Come and take part in the pop-up choir being organised by our new Director of Music, Richard Hall, or come and be part of the congregation.

Mon 24 Dec, 3.30 pm Christingle service with nativity,
St Mary’s, West Malling
Candle-lit Crib service with a Nativity play from St Mary’s Sunday School and lots of carol singing. Christingles will be distributed at the end for children. Come early to avoid disappointment. If you miss out, you may like to come to the second service at 5 p.m (see below). Often attended by families with pre-school children but all ages are welcome.

A photo of the Nativity play from St Mary's, 2012

Christingle with Nativity, West Malling
(Christmas Eve)

Mon 24 Dec, 5.00 pm Christingle service with nativity,
St Mary’s, West Malling
A repeat of the 3.30 p.m. service. Candle-lit Crib service with a Nativity play from St Mary’s Sunday School and lots of carol singing. Christingles will be distributed at the end for children. Doors will not open until after 4.30 p.m. when the previous service concludes. Often attended by families with primary-age children but all ages are welcome.

Mon 24 Dec, 11.15 pm Midnight Communion, West Malling
St Mary’s, West Malling
The first service of Christmas Day is a traditional Midnight Mass with Carols and Holy Communion.

Tue 25 Dec, 8.00 am Holy Communion (BCP)
St Mary’s, West Malling
Traditional language, reflective and quiet Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion service.

Tue 25 Dec, 9.15 am All-Age Communion service
St Michael’s, Offham
Child-friendly Eucharist service to celebrate Christmas Day.

Tue 25 Dec, 10.00 am All-Age Communion service
St Mary’s, West Malling
Child-friendly Eucharist service to celebrate Christmas Day.

Sun 30 Dec, 10.00 am Benefice Service for first Sunday after Christmas
St Michael’s, Offham
There is no 8 am or 10.00 am service at St Mary’s, West Malling on this Sunday. Instead, we come together as one congregation for a joint Benefice service. Rev Jim Brown will be leading and we gather at St Michael’s, Offham.

Remembrance Sunday 2018

A photo of the St Mary's war memorial, taken early morning 2011For each of our three communities, please find below details of the Remembrance Sunday services.

Offham, 10.00 a.m.

The Sunday service starts at the slightly later than usual time of 10.00 a.m. and will follow the pattern for Churches Together services of remembrance. Rev Jim and Rev David will both be on hand to take part in the serviec.

After the service, just before 11.00 a.m. we will make our way outside to the War Memorial for the Act of Remembrance and the two minutes silence.

The congregation will be invited to join the Minister outside the church at the War Memorial where the names of the dead will be read aloud and wreaths laid.

West Malling, 10.00 a.m.

The Sunday service at West Malling will be a service of Holy Communion, led by Canon Alan Vousden. Following the service, the congregation will make its way outside to the War Memorial for the Act of Remembrance and to observe two minutes silence at 11 o’clock.

Kings Hill, 10.30 a.m.

A special joint service takes place at 10.30 at the Running Airman Memorial on Gibson Drive with use of the Italian Market for larger crowds. Uniformed organisations will parade from the Control Tower to the Memorial for the service. Rev Matt Ross of Kings Hill Christian Fellowship and Rev Mark Montgomery of the Church of England will be leading the service.

West Malling, 2.30 p.m.

The Civic Service for Remembrance Sunday will take place at 2.30 p.m. in the afternoon. A parade will make its way up the High Street from about 2pm onwards. Please note the High Street will be closed to traffic while the parade is going on.

This year we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, and also the centenary of the beginning of the RAF with our local links to RAF West Malling. Rev David Green will also be on hand to participate in the service alongside other ecumenical guests.

After the service, wreaths will be laid at the War Memorial while the uniformed organisations form up in the road. Once again, the High Street will be closed around 3.30 p.m. in order for this to take place. This year, Rev Dave Baxter of West Malling Baptist and Rev David of St Mary’s will re-dedicate the memorial following the renovations that took place this year. In so doing, they will mirror what took place in 1921 when their predecessors first unveiled and dedicated the memorial for the people of West Malling.

More details are available in the Events section of this website.

 

 

Explore life, faith and meaning with Alpha

The Alpha Course logoSt Michael’s, Offham are running an Alpha course for our local Cluster starting on Monday 17th September at 7.00 p.m. with sessions hosted at the Jabez Barn next to St Michael’s Church, Church Road, Offham.

All sessions will centre around a good hot meal (kindly supplied by The Swan, West Malling) and with an opportunity to hear about, discuss and ask questions about the basics of Christian faith.

For those who have not heard of Alpha before, it is a free-of-charge course exploring the basics of the Christian faith, typically run over ten or eleven weeks. It started at one church in London and has since become a major enterprise with courses run all over the country and all around the world.

Each talk looks at different questions around faith and is designed to create a conversation.  Alpha is run all around the globe, and everyone is welcome.  It runs in cafes, churches, universities, homes – you name it.  No two Alphas look exactly the same, but generally they have three key things in common: food, a talk and good conversation and open discussion.

Alpha is perfect for two groups of people. If you are a churchgoer and want to do a refresher on the basics of your Christian faith and perhaps fill in a few gaps in your understanding or ask questions you never get to ask, Alpha is for you.

Alpha is also great for anyone who doesn’t currently call themselves a Christian, but is interested in exploring God, the meaning of life and the big questions we all ask, and examining what Jesus and the Christian faith has to offer. If you’re still wondering, you can watch an introduction video online via YouTube.

Contact us now to book your place or if you have a question you’d like to ask before you book in. There’s a maximum limit of 20 people and it is starting to fill up!

Holy Week and Easter Services 2018

We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Sunday 25 March, Palm Sunday services
in all churches at the usual start times.

Maundy Thursday, 29 March, 7 for 7.30 p.m. start
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth

Good Friday, 30 March, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 30 March, 10.00 am
Interactive Easter
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 30 March, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 30 March, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 30 March, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 1 April, 6.45 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 1 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 1 April, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 1 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 1 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Mothering Sunday 2018

Mothering Sunday this year is Sunday the 11th of March.

Traditionally a time in which people returned to their “Mother Church” (the church were they were baptised), today it is widely recognised as a day to celebrate mothers, motherhood in all its forms and to support and comfort those for whom it is a hard day.

There will be services for Mothering Sunday in Offham (at 9.15 a.m.) and in West Malling (at 10.00 a.m.).

Everyone is most welcome.

David is made Vicar

A photo of David kneeling before the Archdeacon as his licence is read aloud.On Thursday February 22nd, St Mary’s was pleased to welcome our brothers and sisters from St Michael’s, Offham and St Gabriel’s, Kings Hill and our Archdeacon, the Venerable Julie Conalty for a special service to ‘induct and install’ David Green as the new ‘Vicar of West Malling and Rector of Offham’.

Regular readers will be aware that, in December, we announced Rev David was to be made ‘Vicar and Rector’ in late January. Unfortunately that service had to be postponed but with Her Majesty’s Letters Patent in hand and able to read aloud in the service, we were finally able to move ahead.

David chose the same readings and hymns that he had at his licensing service in 2011 when he was made ‘Priest-in-Charge’. They provided an interesting mirror image to the service that enabled us to both look back at his six and a half years of ministry here as well as the chance to look forward to all that lies ahead.

The service was led by our new Archdeacon, Ven Julie Conalty who preached the sermon on the theme of unity (you can read the sermon in this month’s Parish Magazine – this link opens a PDF file).

David was asked to renew his vows of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Bishop of Rochester and a series of people from our three churches handed David various symbols of ministry and asked him to renew his pledges as a Minister. Perhaps most moving of all were a couple of children – sisters Lizzy and Immy from Offham who came forward to ask David: “Will you in the strength of the Holy Spirit, continually stir up the gift of God that is in you, to make Christ known among all whom you serve?” He promised Lizzy and Immy and all of us that “By God’s help” he would do so.

The Archdeacon of Tonbridge read aloud the Bishop’s licence and then instituted, anointed and blessed David for service in these parishes. As is common in such inductions, David was then taken to the front doors to be handed his keys (a symbol of his stewardship of the care of the buildings), taken to the bells to ring them, thus indicating he had taken up his role, and finally to his priest’s stall where Julie took him by the hand and placed him in position!

Speaking after the service, David was asked if he felt any different. He said “I appreciate it has been important for many different people to see this take place but the job I do on a day-to-day basis won’t change. Perhaps my halo will glow a bit brighter now! Otherwise we simply move forward together with unity of purpose as Julie said.”

For the uninitiated, what’s changed?

When David was appointed in 2011, he was licensed as ‘Priest-in-Charge’ of our parishes. While the job he has done for us in these last six years has been identical in almost every respect to that of a Vicar, this formal ‘upgrade’ in his status as our Minister does give him a better security of tenure in his role, and it represents an important step forward for our parishes.

Vicar, Rector – what’s the difference?

The difference is largely historical and has to do with money. In the days when Tithes were paid in England someone was entitled to receive that money. Where a church paid that tithe to the Incumbent, he was a Rector. Where someone else got the tithe and they had to appoint someone ‘vicariously’ to lead the churches on their behalf, that person was called a Vicar.

Music at Malling 2017

Polly Gibbons and James Pearson perform at Music@Malling 2013

Visit the Music at Malling website

The seventh Music@Malling Festival returns to West Malling this month. Outstanding artists will be performing an eclectic mix of great music in historic venues from the 21st to 30th September.

The festival kicks off at The Farmhouse in West Malling with Lizzie Ball and friends performing music ranging from Bach to Bluegrass.

James Pearson, Artistic Director of Ronnie Scott’s, makes a welcome return performing Bachology with his legendary trio and James will be also be a soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the fabulous Callum Au Big Band.

Bach features in seven concerts including the complete Violin Partitas and Sonatas with virtuoso violinist, Thomas Bowes, and a concert given by the internationally renowned organist Kevin Bowyer at the Chapel of St. Augustine, Tonbridge School.

Classic FM Artist, Craig Ogden, will be performing a guitar recital in Birling and Finnish flautist, Sami Junnonen performs Bach alongside the music of our time in the spectacular setting of St.Peter and St.Paul’s, Trottiscliffe.

We commemorate the First World War this year with concerts at Pilsdon Barn Chapel and The Control Tower, Kings Hill with works written during the conflict.

The outstanding cellist Richard Harwood performs the cello suites of Max Reger at Malling Abbey. These rarely heard works are a fascinating, modern take on Bach. Richard is also the soloist in Elgar’s Cello Concerto in a concert alongside works by Vaughan Williams including The Lark Ascending. Chamber Domaine perform side-by-side with musicians from across Kent.

The music of contemporary composers Alexander Goehr and Paul Patterson are programmed across the festival.

Hundreds of primary school children will be involved in a project based around Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. The concerts are the culmination of a groundbreaking education project engaging young people with creativity and performance. The concert includes a performance of Paul Patterson’s Little Red Riding Hood.

All Saints’ Church, Tudeley, with its Marc Chagall windows, will be the spectacular setting for a performance of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. James Pearson opens the concert with an improvisation and Chamber Domaine, with composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson, perform this iconic work which was written in a concentration camp.

Music@Malling are very grateful for the help of a wide range of national, regional and local supporters. The festival promises to be a memorable series of events!

Thomas Kemp – Artistic Director

Alan Gibbins – Chairman

Holy Week and Easter services 2017

We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Sunday 9 April, Palm Sunday services
in all churches at the usual start times.

Tuesday 11 April, 7.30pm
Stations of the Cross
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Maundy Thursday, 13 April, 7 for 7.30 p.m. start
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth

Good Friday, 14 April, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 14 April, 10.00 am
Interactive Easter Family Service
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 14 April, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 14 April, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 14 April, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 6.15 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

It’s not Christmas without…

Now, I’m too young to remember this (sorry folks) but in the winter of 1964, a Clergy friend reliably informs me that the Go Go’s released a Christmas novelty record which opened with these words:

“I’m gonna spend my Christmas with a Dalek
and hug it underneath the mistletoe,
and if he’s very nice
I’ll feed him sugar spice,
and hang a Christmas stocking from his big left toe.”

You will be hard pressed to find this particular musical dog’s breakfast in the compilations of Christmas tunes that inevitably fill our shopping centres at this time of year. Even if the Pogues or Slade are not your cup of tea, I can assure you that having listened to the Go Go’s offering, we should be thankful they never made the cut. Small mercies and all that.

Not only does their song display a woeful lack of knowledge about the anatomy of a Dalek, it suggests that nothing says Christmas quite like the opportunity to celebrate it with a genetically engineered race of evil machine/being hybrids intent on galaxy-wide domination!

Indeed, over the next few weeks lots of companies will suggest to us in expensively put-together television adverts that nothing quite says Christmas like… well, you fill in the blank. Boxer dogs jumping on a trampoline? Soldiers exchanging chocolate in the 1914-18 war? A snowman fighting through a long and arduous journey to buy a scarf?

I’m sure plenty of us will also utter statements like ‘you can’t have Christmas without…’ and again, you can fill in the blank. A Christmas tree? Mistletoe? Carol singing? Babycham? Chestnuts roasting on the fire? Midnight Communion? The Queen’s Speech? Children in tea-towels and dressing gowns? A walk in the afternoon? Cold meat and pickles on Boxing Day?

Truth is every family, every person has their traditions and things that speak of Christmas to them. But I do hope that part of your tradition is to be in the company of Christian people in a service of worship. You may or may not be Christian yourself, but I promise that you will be welcome nonetheless. This ought to be a time for all people and, on that front, I was encouraged to hear the Muslim Council of Great Britain issue their own statement welcoming Christmas, pointing out that for them Jesus is a prophet too.

But I digress. At its core, I would say that you can’t have Christmas without a story of humble beginnings and unexpected blessings. A story of concern for the outcast, the refugee and stranger. A story about family and adversity. A story that involves the poor (shepherds) and the rich (kings). You can’t have Christmas without a story of peace and good will to all humankind. You can’t have Christmas without the story of God’s love.

David Green

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