Holy Week and Easter services 2019

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

Monday 15 April, 7.00 pm
Evening Prayer for Holy Week (before the Bible Study)
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Tuesday 16 April, 7.00 pm
Taizé service of Evening Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Wednesday 17 April, 7.00 pm
Evening Prayer for Holy Week
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Maundy Thursday, 18 April, 7.00 pm
Experience the Last Supper (with foot washing)
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 19 April, 10.00 am
Messy Church Easter
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 19 April, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 19 April, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 19 April, 2.00 pm
A Good Friday Solemn Liturgy
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 19 April, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 21 April, 6.15 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 21 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 21 April, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 21 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 21 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

How nations deliver justice (or not)

This article was first published on Rev David’s personal blog and is reproduced here with permission. While the views expressed represent David’s personal opinions, Alison Patterson is a dear friend to all at St Mary’s Church and we want to help publicise this situation.

In recent days our nation has been reacting with horror and disgust after 26 year old backpacker Grace Millane went missing in New Zealand. In writing about this today, I am very conscious that this is an ongoing investigation in which events may still move fast. But as things stand today, a body (believed to be Grace) has been found but not yet formally identified and a man has appeared in court charged with murder.

Grace was on a year-long round-the-world trip when she arrived in New Zealand on the 20th of November this year. On Saturday 1 December, she was seen in the city centre of Auckland visiting Sky City, a complex of hotels, restaurants, bars and a casino. Later that evening, she was seen in the company of a male and, by the following day – her birthday, she was missing.

No question that this is a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to her family especially. But one of the things that has been very noticeable to me is the reaction of the New Zealand government and people. Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, issued a heartfelt apology to Grace’s family and called the murder a source of “national shame”.

“From the Kiwis I have spoken to, there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality.”

Recognising that, ordinarily, the Prime Minister would not get involved in apologising for individual acts of violence, she said she felt compelled to do so because many New Zealanders were taking the case personally. They felt this abduction and, it seems, murder reflected on them somehow.

The reason that this struck such a particular chord with me is because of a different case which involved another young British woman in another country; a situation with which I have a great deal of personal familiarity.

A photo of Lauren


In October 2013, I was asked to visit the home of Alison Patterson, a lady who lived in my parish. When I sat down with Alison, I discovered that she was mother to three children in their teens and twenties, and she had sadly lost her husband, the children’s father, in a tragic accident five years previous. The reason for our meeting was that Alison was in the awful position of needing to arrange a funeral for her daughter Lauren, who had died on the 12th of October that year in Doha, Qatar. She was 24 years old.

Lauren was studying to become a teacher when, in 2012, she took an opportunity to visit Qatar and take a job teaching a Reception class in a school in Doha. Things went well and Lauren was very happy living and working in the country, making friends in the ex-pat community and in the May of 2013, she decided to extend her contract for a second year.

Not long after term had begun in that second academic year, on Saturday the 12th of October, Lauren went for a night out with friends. At the end of the evening, she left the La Cigale nightclub with one of her female friends and two Qatari men. The men dropped the friend home first with Lauren to be taken home second.

It gives me no pleasure to describe to you how Lauren died. However, I believe it is important to rehearse it here so that you understand the severity of what took place. I have, at least, made this text white so that you have to highlight over it to read it. It gives you the choice as to whether you want to read the details of what happened next or not. It’s not pleasant, so I understand if you choose not to highlight the text and you choose to skip over to the following paragraph.

Lauren was not returned home that night. The two men abducted her. One of them raped her and then he stabbed her to death. To try to conceal their crime, the two of them took her body out into the desert where they dug a fire pit and set Lauren’s corpse on fire. When Alison flew out to Qatar to identify Lauren’s body, there was considerable difficulty in doing so because what was left of Lauren weighed only 7.5 kilos. All that was left was part of her head and neck, her upper jaw teeth with her brace still intact, and part of her chest where the knife was still embedded. Her feet were the only part of her body clearly untouched because they had hung over the edge of the fire pit when she was burnt. The red nail polish she loved was still visible on her toes.

A photo of LaurenOn the 21st of November at St Mary’s Church in West Malling; one of the churches I lead and the parish where the Patterson family lived, we conducted Lauren’s funeral. It was a day I will never forget. The church was packed with people; most of them teenagers and adults – Lauren’s friends. In my remarks on the day, I decided to say that Lauren did not die with love surrounding her, but we would make sure that on that day of her funeral she would be buried with love. As we laid her to rest in the churchyard, hundreds of people filed past the open grave, each holding a flower. Each flower was thrown into the grave until, by the time everyone had taken part, you could not see the coffin for the sea of flowers that her friends and family gave to her in one last act of love.

Over the next few years, Alison became a friend and a regular at St Mary’s alongside other members of her family and friends, including her remaining son and daughter. It has been my privilege as her parish priest to accompany them all. I do so still, and I do what I can to walk with the family as they rebuild their lives.

It hasn’t all been misery and tragedy in my pastoral support of the family. Alison found love with her second husband, Kevin, and it was my privilege to marry them at St Mary’s in a day full of joy and celebration. But it was also a day when Lauren was not forgotten. We included a little act of remembrance in the marriage service with Lauren’s photo given pride of place in our Lady Chapel, candles were lit and prayers said. Immediately after the marriage service had concluded, Kevin and Alison took a few moments with me to be at Lauren’s grave and, once again, to pray.

But, unfortunately, as part of that journey since Lauren’s death, Alison and her family have also been involved in what has seemed like a never-ending fight for justice. It is here that the contrast between New Zealand’s reaction for Grace Millane and Qatar’s response to Lauren could not be more different – to New Zealand’s credit and to Qatar’s great shame.

The murderer was quickly identified as Badr Hashim Khamis Abdallah Al Jabr – a Qatari national. He was found guilty the following March and sentenced to death. Qatar still has the death penalty. Mohamed Abdallah Hassan Abdul Aziz, Al Jabr’s accomplice, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for helping to dispose of Lauren’s body and tampering with evidence. One might wonder about why Abdul Aziz only got three years. It is indicative of the wider situation I want to write about today, but that’s not the focus of my attention.

Where I want to focus is that, in the five years since Lauren died, Alison has had to fly to Qatar over thirty times in the hunt for justice. Think for a moment of the financial implications of more than thirty round-trip flights to Qatar.

After the harrowing trial and the initial conviction of Al Jabr, Qatar’s Court of Appeal upheld the conviction a year later. Then, in 2016, Qatar’s highest court threw out that verdict and ordered a new re-trial for Al Jabr.

At this point, when you have the benefit of the British legal system, it’s quite difficult to fathom exactly how Qatar’s judiciary operates. The re-trial was ordered after Al Jabar’s lawyer argued that the Court of Appeal’s decision was “erroneous and not based on a sound legal foundation.” At the re-trial, there was no new evidence introduced. The panel were instead given leave to evaluate what was previously entered into the record to see if any errors were made. The mind boggles as to why such checking and double checking was required, other than in search of some kind of loophole so that Al Jabr could get off.

The retrial took place in 2017 and, thankfully, Al Jabr was found guilty once again. The original sentence, which was to be carried out by firing squad or hanging, was reimposed. The courts dismissed Al Jabr’s defence, admonishing his lawyers in the process who had, at various points over the various trials, claimed that he had acted in self-defence, he was mentally incapable, and even that Lauren had killed herself. Clearly, Al Jabr didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

And yet, despite this incredible litany of legal activity and re-trial after re-trial after hearing after trial, a further hearing came about this Autumn (2018) because of a technicality in which Al Jabr’s lawyers claimed he had not received the paperwork inviting him to attend the 2017 sentencing hearing.

So Al Jabr had to be sentenced again. It gives me no pleasure to tell you that this apparent ‘re-sentencing’ took place on the 26th of November this year and Lauren’s murderer’s sentence was reduced much to the family’s great surprise, shock and anger. Al Jabr’s sentence was set at ten years. Given time already served since 2013, he will be out in five.

Where New Zealand has, as a nation, effectively covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes and expressed a profound sense of regret and shame that a vibrant, travelling young British woman should ever have come to harm on their shores, Qatar does not. While New Zealand promises justice for a family hurting deeply and grieving for the loss of a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her, Qatar instead continues to prolong the suffering of Alison and her family.

Constant appeals and re-trials only convey to Lauren’s family and watching friends that Qatar’s over-riding priority in this case is not to see justice served, but rather to preserve their national reputation. It seems there is a pervading reluctance to accept that a Qatari could ever act so heinously. Entertaining the repeated legal shenanigans of Al Jabr’s lawyers convey a sense that they would rather expunge the record of such a crime ever having taken place instead of have to admit that a Qatari man actually did this.

One wonders what sort of justice would have been served if the man who violated Lauren had not been Qatari? Amongst the ex-pat community, the Qatari legal system is reputed to often have one rule for nationals and another for those who come from overseas. If Al Jabr had come from the Yemen or Oman, and had done this in Qatar, I very much doubt Al Jabr would still be breathing.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no fan of the death penalty. I am glad to live in a country that long ago ended such cruelty. But I am a fan of justice being served. In anyone’s book, ten years in prison for such a brutal murder is no justice at all. Lauren never got to explore her teaching career. She never got to marry or have children, or grow old in the company of family and friends and with grandchildren to make her smile. A lifetime was stolen by Al Jabr that night. Is ten years the right price for such a theft?

And what prospect is there that this dangerous man, whose misogyny and violent sexual hatred apparently knows no bounds, will be safe if he is released from prison sometime around 2023? What message does it send to other Qatari men with a similar appetite for sexual violence? What message does it send to Al Jabr? Will he have other victims in the future?

For Lauren’s family, for me, for her many family and friends, the fight for justice continues, and there is hope. I think that Qatar’s concern for its own national reputation is something that can be used as we all seek true justice for Lauren.

Let me explain what I mean.

Qatar, if you are reading, do you not see that your reputation as a nation, as a country, is damaged far more by your collective unwillingness to let justice be done and your obfuscation of the clear facts of this case, than any damage done to your reputation by the actions of this one man?

A photo of Lauren and Alison

Lauren and her mum, Alison.

We understand that all Qataris are not wicked, evil rapists and murderers like Al Jabr. We like to trust and believe in your neighbourliness and we see your desire to be seen as a respectable nation on a world stage. With the FIFA World Cup on its way in 2022, we recognise also that you are becoming a player at international level with a passion to be taken seriously as a global force for good.

We can understand that one person can be guilty of unimaginable cruelty, and while such things are lamentable, we also understand that such actions do not need to define a whole country. We do not think of New Zealand as a nation of misogynists and murderers because of what happened to Grace Millane. Their reaction to the death of Grace Millane proves it. It gives us hope that the people of that nation, like the people of Britain, truly want to see justice done for that young woman.

But every time you deny the Patterson family justice, every time you prolong their agony, every time Alison has to get on another plane to Doha… and now when you have given a risible sentence to a man guilty of truly awful crimes, it becomes that much harder for us to see you in the same light as the people of New Zealand.

The choice is yours really. You can either reassure us all, and the international community, that this case was just one man acting from his own evil intent. You can punish him properly for his crime of unimaginable barbarism.

Or you can continue on your current path where, day-by-day, it gets easier and easier to see your nation as a place that one should not visit, let alone allow our sons or daughters to visit. Why would we come when it seems racism and misogyny are alive and well in your legal system, Qataris are protected simply because of their race and place of birth, and violent, predatory men do not face proper justice.

So, your choice. Who are you really? Which nation will you choose to be?

Rev David Green

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.



Music at Malling 2018

Polly Gibbons and James Pearson perform at Music@Malling 2013

Visit the Music at Malling website

The eighth Music@Malling Festival takes place in West Malling this month and St Mary’s is pleased to be one of the host venues.

Combining a hugely successful outreach programme with a firm commitment to new music, the eighth Music@Malling festival comprises 28 events across 14 days.

Highlights include:

  • 1,800 children from 20 primary schools compose theme tunes for the theme park rides in The Great Enormo – a 21st Century Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, written by Michael Rosen and set to music by husband and wife team, James Morgan and Juliette Cochin.
  • One of the world’s leading choirs, Tenebrae, under their acclaimed director, Nigel Short, give a concert Commemorating The Armistice performing works by Elgar, Stanford, Parry and Taverner. Owain Park – Footsteps will be performed side-by-side with young singers from local secondary schools.
  • In this centenary year for the end of the First World War, the Armistice is further commemorated in a programme of British string classics with Chamber Domaine under the baton of Thomas Kemp. Legendary actor, Charles Dance OBE, narrates the programme with readings from Siegfried Sassoon and his rediscovered correspondence with leading figures from the 20th century.
  • The Master of Queen’s Music Judith Weir CBE is profiled across five concerts with Meet the Composer events and a study morning exploring her music.
  • Debussy 100 – the composer is featured in four concerts including Chamber Domaine at Pilsdon Barn performing the three sonatas written at the end of the First World War dedicated to those fighting at the front. Leading young pianist, Vanessa Benelli Mossel performs Debussy Préludes and Suite Bergamasques. Outstanding organist, Rupert Jeffcoat, performs an arrangement of L’Après-midi d’un Faune as part of an organ recital featuring works by Elgar and Weir and renowned Tippett Quartet perform two classic quartets by Elgar and Debussy – a work which was dedicated to Eugène Ysaÿe.
  • Eugène Ysaÿe – ‘The King of the Violin’ – is a featured composer. One of the greatest of all virtuosi, a brilliant conductor, teacher and composer, his complete Sonatas for Violin are performed by Thomas Bowes in Malling Abbey. Rarely heard works also feature in recital given by Richard Harwood and by Chamber Domaine in The Control Tower, King’s Hill.
  • Bach Pilgrimage – one of the world’s finest guitarists, Craig Ogden, performs the complete Bach – Lute Suites in the iconic setting of Malling Abbey.
  • Ahead of its World Premiere at London’s V&A in November and to mark the end of the prestigious Frida Kahlo “Making Her Self Up” exhibition, violinist and vocalist Lizzie Ball and guitarist Morgan Szymanksi, will be previewing a selection of works from Corrido – A Ballad for The Brave taking musical and visual inspiration from the cultural landscape of Frida’s time in the inspiring All Saint’s Church, Tudeley with its famous Marc Chagall windows.
  • James Pearson – Artistic Director of Ronnie Scott’s returns to give a solo recital The Inventions Reinvented – a reworking of Bach’s Two and Three-Part Inventions.
  • Outstanding cellist and composer, Peter Gregson performs Bach Recomposed – a reinterpretation of the Bach Cello Suites for solo cello and electronics which is to be released on the iconic Deutsche Grammophon label in October 2018.
  • Music@Malling are also delighted to be collaborating with the Park Lane Music Foundation
    supporting outstanding young artists at the beginning of their careers with a recital in the
    stunning church of St.Peter & St.Paul, Trottiscliffe.

Thomas Kemp – Artistic Director

Alan Gibbins – Chairman

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.