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

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.

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

Beyond the Referendum

Leaver & Remainer stand before the AltarOur Priest-in-Charge, David, and our Licensed Lay Minister, Becky, discuss the recent result of the Referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

D: We are both Christian people, living in West Malling, worshipping and sharing together in our local community. You voted to Leave the EU. I voted to Remain. What was it that was most important to you about voting to leave?

B: It’s a very complex situation, so there are no simple answers. I think the more distant a parliament is from its electorate, the more likely it is that the legislation they propose will have unintended, negative consequences. I think there is a very strong case for structural reform, limiting the scope of EU powers. This is not just about Britain: there are other countries within the Union (Greece and Cyprus for example) where there is a great deal of disaffection with the EU. I was quite aware that voting ‘Leave’ was a risk and there were likely to be financial repercussions. Sometimes risks are necessary to effect change. I hope it will be change for the better. Why did you vote Remain?

D: I tried to consider both sides carefully but ultimately, I felt that a lot of the Leave arguments relied on things that I felt weren’t true. The £350 million figure, the supposed loss of Sovereignty. I do think we have a problem of population capacity and we do need control, but that was outweighed for me by the economic side of things, worries about a political vacuum or major swing to the Right and I felt certain politicians were telling half-truths or lies. So I decided to Remain. Any regrets?

B: I absolutely regret that some Europeans who now live in this country suddenly feel that they are no longer welcome. I’d feel the same way about any immigrant, whatever their nationality. I’m aware just how important these people are for many successful businesses including, for example, some of our local farms – we can’t do without them. Equally, I’m appalled that those on the Far Right feel liberated to make xenophobic protests; they’re divisive and hurtful. I’m less concerned about the financial side of things because market volatility happens and will calm. But the Press doesn’t tell stories like mine – I guess it’s just not just newsworthy. But no, I don’t regret voting the way I did. What about you?

D: No regrets for me but plenty of hurts. It does feel raw and painful. Especially when it started to emerge that some Leave voters had done so either because of racism, or because they wanted to give David Cameron a black eye but didn’t think Leave would win, or because they really didn’t understand the question. That upset me greatly. One thing we can agree on though is that racism or xenophobia or ugly treatment of those from other nations is simply not acceptable, and as Christians, we need to be brave and stand up to resist that.

I think the penny dropped for me a little when I was teaching about bereavement on a pastoral care course this week. The shock and disbelief of Remainers, their denial of the result (and wanting to do it all again), the anger and abuse are all typical symptoms of grief. There’s a mourning going on for something that has died for them – rightly or wrongly, they feel like part of their identity as Brits, as Europeans, has died. It’s a loss and like any loss, people will grieve.

B: They may feel that way now; I understand that feeling. But we can be European without being in the EU. I see myself as European as much as I am British (and probably quite a lot of other stuff as well). We are still a country in Europe – we can’t not be. I’ve recently come back from Montenegro which isn’t in the EU (so Montenegrins have to obtain a visa to visit the UK) but they trade in Euros. Croatia, next door, is in the EU but trades in Kunas. There were border controls between the two but no problem with passing between. There are a lot of different ways of being in Europe which don’t necessarily entail being part of the gigantic bureaucracy that is the EU.

D: Absolutely. That’s the thing all Brits need to embrace now – how can we be outward looking, European, and so on, but simply not part of the EU. I wrote in last month’s parish magazine that regardless of the result, the key would be how we come together as one nation again when we have had to vote on a question that inevitably polarizes everyone – regions of the UK, towns and communities, older and younger voters, even families. Reconciliation and healing is vital. Remainers, like myself, now need to do their bit to prove we were wrong and the Leavers were right.

B: Thank you. For Leavers I think it’s vital we voice our opposition to xenophobic and racist actions. It’s important not to gloat, to act with integrity and good grace. It’s all going to take time: we’ll need to be patient. Within the church, to continue to pray for the political process, for the politicians and all involved in disentangling. We need to pray for the EU itself, and for those within the UK who are in deep despair at the result. I don’t like language of winning and losing because that mentality won’t help, but it’s quite hard being on the ‘winning’ side when a) you know your actions have produced deep distress and will continue to do so and b) you suspect you are being tarred with the brush of being a non-thinking bigot.

D: There’s no excuse for Remainers to be abusive – misdirected anger and abuse is not healthy grief. But if I may offer something for Leavers – if Remainers are grieving – then like any bereavement, there’s good things to do and say, and things to not do or say. A grieving widow doesn’t need to hear that ‘time is a great healer’ or ‘I know how you feel’. It doesn’t help. Saying ‘it will all work out’ doesn’t help Remainers right now. I also wonder whether, like any bereavement, the Church can help with that by providing space for such thoughts and prayers in the way we would at a funeral.

The former Bishop of Tonbridge, Brian Castle, is a bit of an expert in reconciliation and he’s written recently that the UK can’t reconcile yet. He says “reconciliation can only happen when the roar of battle has died down, when all involved regard themselves as equals (there can be no victims when pursuing reconciliation) and when people can talk about their hopes, aspirations and fears.” He also says it needs all parties to be open to change for the sake of the other. If we rush to reconcile, we won’t let the wound truly be clean before it heals over.

B: My prayer is that our churches will be able to model how to disagree well: how to keep our hearts, minds and arms open to embrace others despite the uncertainty and despite the hurt. We need to build a future now in which Remainers and Leavers can come together as one nation. I can only promise to try to do my bit.

D: Amen to that.

Invitation to remember

A photo of the candle tributes at the Memorial Service 2012On Sunday 1 November, our churches play host to our annual All Saints’ Memorial Service in which people gather to remember loved ones who have died.

All Saints’ is a time in the Church year in which we remember those who have gone before us and celebrate the Saints and so it’s a really good time to hold such a memorial service.

At the evening service, which starts at 6.00 p.m, we will give thanks for the lives of those who have passed away. We will honour their memory during the service and seek God’s comfort in prayer. After the service, there will be some refreshments available if you would like to stay behind and chat.

The centrepiece of the service is a respectful reading out of the names of all those who have died in the last year along with any other names of people that families wish to remember. As names are read, family members light candles and place them on a nave altar (see photo).

Although the service focuses on those who have lost a loved one in the last year, the service is open to all and each year, there are usually people who gather to remember those who have died in the more distant past. Time is no healer and it’s always good to continue to mark that person’s memory and offer to God our feelings as we continue to miss them.

If you would like to come to the service, please phone our church office on 01732 842245 and leave a message or email us via this website to let us know. It would be very useful if you could tell us how many family members you expect to bring with you so that we can ensure we can accommodate everyone.

Easter events and services 2015

A photo of a chalkboard that reads 'Resurrection is making a comeback'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.

Monday 30 March, from 3pm
Easter Experience
(for children and parents)
St Michael’s, Offham

Tuesday 31 March, from 3pm
Easter Experience
(for children and parents)
St Mary’s, West Malling

Wednesday 1 April, 7.30 p.m.
Brett Lecture 2015 with Rev David Green
“In what way, if any, did Christ ‘bear the judgement of God’ at the crucifixion?”

Thursday 2 April, 7.30 p.m.
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
Kings Hill Vicarage, 19 Worcester Avenue, Kings Hill

Good Friday, 3 April, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s, Offham

Good Friday, 3 April, 9.30 am
Morning Prayer
St Gabriel’s, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 3 April, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 3 April, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s, West Malling

Good Friday, 3 April, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Easter Sunday 5 April, 6.15 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s, Offham

Easter Sunday 5 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s, West Malling

Easter Sunday 5 April, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s, Offham

Easter Sunday 5 April, 9.30 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday 5 April, 11.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Mary’s, West Malling

Prayer concerning events in France

The Church of England has issued the following prayer in response to the Paris terror attack.

Compassionate God and Father of all,
we are horrified at violence
in so many parts of the world.
It seems that none are safe, and some are terrified.
Hold back the hands that kill and maim;
turn around the hearts that hate.
Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace –
peace that passes our understanding
but changes lives,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Remembrance Sunday services

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, 9.15 a.m.

The Sunday service at 9.15 a.m. is a Service of Holy Communion. During the service, the Act of Remembrance will be undertaken. 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 the two minute silence held. Rev David Green will be leading the service.

Kings Hill, 10.45 a.m.

A special joint service takes place at 10.45 at the Running Airman Memorial on Gibson Drive with use of the Italian Market for larger crowds. Uniformed organisations will parade at 10.30 a.m. from the Control Tower to the Memorial for the service. More details are available in the Events section of this website. Rev Matt Ross of Kings Hill Christian Fellowship and Rev David Green of the Church of England will be leading the service.

West Malling, 11.00 a.m.

The Sunday service at West Malling begins with the Act of Remembrance and two minutes silence outside at the War Memorial. Please arrive before 11 am so that you are able to participate from the beginning as the chimes mark 11 o’clock. After the Act of Remembrance, the congregation will make their way inside the church for the parish’s Sunday service of Holy Communion. Canon Alan Vousden 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.

We are pleased to welcome Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, to speak at the service this year as we mark a special centenary since the start of the First World War. 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 present 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. More details are available in the Events section of this website.

 

 

Invitation to remember

A photo of the candle tributes at the Memorial Service 2012On Friday 7 November, our churches play host to our annual All Saints’ Memorial Service in which people gather to remember loved ones who have died.

All Saints’ is a time in the Church year in which we remember those who have gone before us and celebrate the Saints and so it’s a really good time to hold such a memorial service.

At the service, we will give thanks for the lives of those who have passed away. We will honour their memory during the service and seek God’s comfort in prayer. After the service, there will be some refreshments available if you would like to stay behind and chat.

The centrepiece of the service is a respectful reading out of the names of all those who have died in the last year along with any other names of people that families wish to remember. As names are read, family members light candles and place them on a nave altar (see photo).

Although the service focuses on those who have lost a loved one in the last year, the service is open to all and each year, there are usually people who gather to remember those who have died in the more distant past. Time is no healer and it’s always good to continue to mark that person’s memory and offer to God our feelings as we continue to miss them.

If you would like to come to the service, please phone our church office on 01732 842245 and leave a message or email us via this website to let us know. It would be very useful if you could tell us how many family members you expect to bring with you so that we can ensure we can accommodate everyone.

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