Notices, 12 July 2020

Notices, 12 July 2020

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

Update on re-opening our church buildings

While the buildings are now ready for services, in line with current Government and Church of England guidance, there are still challenges in working out how we re-open, particularly when we know we cannot fit everyone into the building that we would normally expect to see on a Sunday.

Over the last ten days, Rev David has had meetings with our Churchwardens, the Lay Ministers and retired Clergy who help minister regularly in West Malling and Offham, and with our Housegroup leaders. Based on those discussions, he has put forward a plan which will be discussed by both PCCs on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Once the plan is discussed and (hopefully) agreed, we will begin to publicise how we intend to re-open and what you will need to do if you wish to attend offline church services. The online worship will continue alongside the offline services to try and cater to those who are shielding, those who feel a little anxious about returning to church, those who are happy to let others go first, and those who have to work or are otherwise unable to come.

As always, we will try to communicate regularly and often so you know what’s happening. The promised video showing ‘how to’ use the building and be present in worship is coming. It will be published when we have an agreed plan of action.

Further delay to Trio Parish Magazine

While Trio is mostly prepared and ready to go, we are holding on for its publication a little while longer until after PCC meetings have taken place this coming week and a plan is agreed for the re-opening. There’s obviously going to be a number of special arrangements in place for our church services going forward, and Trio is a great opportunity to try and communicate those changes to a wider audience. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t a Trio edition in August and so the next one will be out at the start of September. So we hope you will bear with us for now.

Trio will be distributed electronically, in line with current restrictions, via email and will be available to download from this website from around the 16th or 17th of July.

Women’s Refuge

Domestic Violence has been a major issue during lockdown. For women who live in fear of such violence, being closed off from the world has the potential to only make things worse. Our local Women’s Refuge is running low on dry goods and toiletries and has put out an appeal for fresh supplies. Gail Crutchfield is happy to collect them from you and take them to the refuge. Please phone Gail at 01732 845187.

Opportunities for theological study

Our friends at St Augustine’s Theological College, based at West Malling Abbey, have released details of their Autumn programme. If the lockdown has given you more time for prayer and study of Scripture, you may be looking for something to take you further in your knowledge and understanding.

Of particular interest may be the “Introduction to Biblical Studies” taster module and the new “Theology for Disciples” course, which provides lay people with greater opportunities for learning and a consideration of their own calling. Finally “Changing Times” is a short, four week course of guided prayer and reflection on the changes that the lockdown has brought to our lives.

Many churches and parishes would love to have a fantastic theological college right on their doorstep. What a great resource for us to call on. Have a look at their website and see if anything might appeal to you.

Ladies’ Meal Zoom Call ends

The Ladies Meal Zoom Calls have now come to a conclusion. We will wait and see what’s possible with Ladies Meal and the Men’s Meal in coming months.

Volunteer Networks in West Malling and Offham

St Mary’s in West Malling and St Michael’s in Offham are working with the respective Parish Councils, local clubs, other churches, community groups, societies and agencies to provide a network of volunteers who want to help, and link them with people who need help during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In both communities, the organisers are considering next steps as the lockdown is eased and there are fewer people in need of help. More and more of those who had asked the volunteer network for help are now getting out and about more and managing their own affairs once again.

We are continuing to run the networks for the time being as they have been run. We are conscious of the risk of a second wave and want to be ready if that should occur. We will be reviewing the networks as Summer turns to Autumn to see if they are still needed or not.

David’s day off this week

Rev David’s day off this week will be Saturday the 18th of July.

Notices, 5 July 2020

Notices, 5 July 2020

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

Update on re-opening our church buildings

Since last Sunday, Government guidance for the next phase of re-opening has been published and the Church of England interpretations of that guidance and documentation published. The good news is that our two church buildings are now ready practically for services to resume. Our thanks to everyone who helped to get the churches ready. Sanitation stations are in place and floor markings and pew markings in place to maintain 2m physical distancing. As the first step in re-opening, we have been able to inform our local Funeral Directors that we are now open once again for funeral services in church.

While churches can re-open for Sunday services from now onwards, St Mary’s and St Michael’s have particular challenges in that our reduced capacity means that we cannot fit everyone into the building who we would normally expect to see every Sunday. Rev David is liaising with our Lay Ministers, retired Clergy, our Churchwardens and PCCs at present to agree a plan for how we equitably enable everyone who wants to come to church to do so.

At present, we are targeting either July 26th or August 2nd for a resumption of Sunday services. But, as we said before, please temper expectations. Don’t expect an immediate return to the 8 and 10 o’clock services at West Malling and 9.15 at Offham and the format of services will not be as they were before. Amongst many things in the Government and Church of England guidance, we will not be able to engage in congregational singing and Holy Communion will need to be carried out differently.

As always, we will try to communicate regularly and often so you know what’s happening.

Happy Birthday Stewart!

At our All-Age services each month, we usually celebrate birthdays. We’ll have to catch up with quite a few when services can resume in church. However, in the meantime, and in the spirit of All-Age celebrations for birthdays, we wanted to wish Stewart Betts from St Michael’s a very happy birthday. Stewart celebrated his 92nd birthday yesterday on the 4th of July.

Delay to Trio Parish Magazine

With everything else that’s been going on, we’ve not had time to prepare a July edition of Trio, our Benefice’s Parish Magazine. We hope to put something together in the coming days and it will be distributed electronically, in line with current restrictions, via email and will be available to download from this website.

Women’s Refuge

Domestic Violence has been a major issue during lockdown. For women who live in fear of such violence, being closed off from the world has the potential to only make things worse. Our local Women’s Refuge is running low on dry goods and toiletries and has put out an appeal for fresh supplies. Gail Crutchfield is happy to collect them from you and take them to the refuge. Please phone Gail at 01732 845187.

Opportunities for theological study

Our friends at St Augustine’s Theological College, based at West Malling Abbey, have released details of their Autumn programme. If the lockdown has given you more time for prayer and study of Scripture, you may be looking for something to take you further in your knowledge and understanding.

Of particular interest may be the “Introduction to Biblical Studies” taster module and the new “Theology for Disciples” course, which provides lay people with greater opportunities for learning and a consideration of their own calling. Finally “Changing Times” is a short, four week course of guided prayer and reflection on the changes that the lockdown has brought to our lives.

Many churches and parishes would love to have a fantastic theological college right on their doorstep. What a great resource for us to call on. Have a look at their website and see if anything might appeal to you.

Ladies’ Meal Zoom Call ends

The Ladies Meal Zoom Calls have now come to a conclusion. We will wait and see what’s possible with Ladies Meal and the Men’s Meal in coming months.

Volunteer Networks in West Malling and Offham

St Mary’s in West Malling and St Michael’s in Offham are working with the respective Parish Councils, local clubs, other churches, community groups, societies and agencies to provide a network of volunteers who want to help, and link them with people who need help during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In both communities, the organisers are considering next steps as the lockdown is eased and there are fewer people in need of help. More and more of those who had asked the volunteer network for help are now getting out and about more and managing their own affairs once again.

We are continuing to run the networks for the time being as they have been run. We are conscious of the risk of a second wave and want to be ready if that should occur. We will be reviewing the networks as Summer turns to Autumn to see if they are still needed or not.

David’s day off this week

Due to an interment of ashes taking place next Saturday, Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 10th of July.

Concerning Coronavirus and Public Worship IV

19 June 2020

Dear Worshipper

Concerning Coronavirus (COVID-19) and re-opening for funerals and private prayer

I am sure you may be aware that the Government recently gave permission for churches to re-open their buildings for private prayer and for funeral services.

Anecdotally, it seems that about a third of churches and cathedrals have been able to do that already, while the rest remain closed.

Here in West Malling and Offham, I have been working with our Churchwardens and our PCC, the church council, to work out what is best to do here. We have carefully read the Government guidance when it was eventually published and we’ve also poured over a variety of documents published by the Church of England and the Diocese of Rochester.

We have put together a plan on what needs to happen and put together a risk assessment. I want to say thank you to the various people in the two churches who have been helping me to do that.

Re-opening our buildings at this time is not simply a matter of propping open the front doors and letting people come and go as they please. In order to re-open, the buildings must be cleaned and then cleared of all hymn books, prayer books and other items you might usually touch. We also need to cordon off some pews and cordon off parts of pews to maintain a 2m physical distance. Hand-washing stations need to be set-up, floor markings and notices put in place. Much like you might see in one of the local supermarkets.

But unlike the supermarkets, we don’t have lots of paid staff to do this. We are already underway with doing all that’s required and we should complete these preparations in the next two weeks at the latest. Thank you to those who have offered to help already, we will be contacting you soon if we haven’t already done so.

I am hoping that the buildings are ready by July the 5th.

But ready for what?

I have met with both West Malling and Offham PCCs this week to decide on our priorities. We have also polled our Electoral Roll for both churches to hear how those who attend our churches regularly were feeling.

Government have said we can only currently do funerals and private prayer. But those two things are not necessarily pulling in totally the same direction and they need different things.

In both churches, having discussed it with our leaders, we are agreed that our priority is to be able to re-open for funeral services in church. While we have had graveside burials regularly through the lockdown, the compassionate response for our wider community is to have the option ready for families of conducting a funeral in church.

As well as the various restrictions I’ve already described, we would have a maximum capacity that would still mean attendance is restricted. At Offham, we would only have room for five households. At West Malling, the number is fourteen households. But that’s still way off our usual capacities. But it’s a start.

Being able to handle a funeral safely is the first step on the road to other things and it’s a good first step. Not only does it offer compassion to grieving families, but generally people attending funerals know each other. They are often from the same households or bubbles. So there is less risk than opening in a way where lots of people from lots of disparate households come together like your average Sunday service.

If we can do funerals well, I anticipate weddings might be next. Although whether wedding couples want to change their plans and host small, restricted ceremonies will be up to them.

Gathering for Sunday worship still lies some way down the tracks and I’ll talk more about that and the challenges of that another day.

Being in church for worship is not the same as going to Marks and Spencer. You behave differently, you physically do different things, you touch and interact with the building and space in different ways, you’re there for different lengths of time. There are complexities. In that sense there are very good reasons why churches were allowed to re-open in the earliest phases of the lockdown being eased.

And that brings us to private prayer. Although the Government have said we can re-open for private prayer and that no supervision is necessary, I am personally uncomfortable with that. I have discussed it with the PCCs and, while we recognise it’s a loss to some of us, and we know there’s a wider community of people who do pop in, the majority view in both churches shared my level of discomfort. Indeed, when we asked you, between 70 and 80% of people on the Electoral Roll of both churches were not keen to re-open for private prayer at this stage.

Although Government have not required it, I think supervision for private prayer is absolutely necessary at the moment. There have been cases worldwide of people being infected after going to church and sitting in a seat or a pew where someone with covid-19 coronavirus, a few hours earlier in a different service of worship, had previously sat.

As you’ll know, opening for private prayer means people come and go as they wish. But when you come and go in that way, you have no idea who has sat where before you. The only solution is to have someone in the building who does know, who supervises, and when someone leaves, they quietly go over to that place and sanitise it… just as the supermarkets sanitise the shopping baskets after someone has used them.

Different churches may adopt different approaches. You may disagree with me that this is necessary. But, ultimately, the person responsible to decide in this instance for West Malling and Offham is me. And I’m not happy with opening if we don’t also supervise and take responsibility for keeping each pew sanitised.

Supervision means people to supervise and that limits what we can do. But it also cuts across the purpose of opening for private prayer in the sense that we don’t have the people to supervise all day every day. And if you can’t do that, people can’t just pop in when they want… and popping in when you want is kind of the point of having the buildings open in the way we normally do. You’d have to know when the church was open and then make the special trip.

So, having discussed it with the PCCs, we are not saying a total no to opening for private prayer but we’re going to do it a in very limited way and it’s not our priority. We’re going to suck it and see by perhaps opening one Sunday from mid-morning to mid-afternoon in a few weeks time and see whether people come. We’ll advertise it to you in due course when we’re ready to host such a time.

Public worship, Sunday services, remain some way away, I’m afraid. We will continue to offer online worship each Sunday and it’s been encouraging to see so many of you taking part in that. I’m also interested in coming days to talk with our church leaders about we can best supplement and improve what we are doing now.

As I said to you in March, there is a calling upon us during lockdown. We were to be people of prayer in our homes, to go deeper with God in study of his word, to take ownership and responsibility for nurturing our faith. And there’s also a calling to humbly serve those around us in our communities. To be the healing hands and feet of Jesus to a broken world.

Lockdown may be easing in some ways, but that calling for us as the Christian church has not changed.

May the Lord watch between us while we’re apart from each other.

Love God, love your neighbour.

I hope very much to see you soon.

Yours in Christ

Rev David Green
Vicar

Concerning Coronavirus and Public Worship III

 

18 March 2020

Dear Worshipper

Further update regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Public Worship

I am writing to let you know that, as of yesterday, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have taken the difficult and extraordinary decision to suspend the Church of England’s usual pattern of Sunday services, mid-week gatherings and all other regular church activities until further notice.

I have also received reports from a couple of local households that the virus may be present already amongst some people who regularly attend our two churches. There are possible symptoms locally but no confirmation that it is COVID-19 because those people have not been tested.

Clearly, the decision to suspend activity in all parishes is not a decision to be taken lightly and it does not mean the Church of England has shut up shop. As the challenge of Coronavirus (COVID-19) grips the whole world, and as the British Government asks every individual and every organisation to rethink its life, the Archbishops are now asking the Church of England in all its parishes, chaplaincies and ministries to serve the people of England in a new way.

Here in our Benefice, several things will be happening with immediate effect.

  1. Both churches will remain open during daylight hours for anyone to visit and offer their own private prayers. Please observe all current hygiene recommendations.
  2. At 9.05 a.m. in Offham and 5.05 p.m. in West Malling I will be in church, I will ring the bell to symbolically let the Parish know I am praying and then say Common Worship Daily Prayer. Please don’t attend. However you may want to join in with me by saying the offices from home at the same time. Daily Prayer is available online from the Church of England website, or a copy of the book can be purchased online. You don’t have to join in every day, or twice a day. Join in when you can.
  3. I am preparing resources to feed your faith and spiritual life while at home. I am also preparing a Booklet especially for those who have been told to stay in self-isolation. Each Sunday, I will publish material on this website. I will provide written prayers, notices, a recorded sermon from me, and links to hymns to sing.
  4. We will also be taking steps to link people pastorally together. In particular I want to make sure those who are more elderly or vulnerable have support from someone younger amongst the church community who may be willing to offer help with shopping, picking up prescriptions, phone contact, encouragement and friendship. Even if we’re in isolation, we don’t need to allow anyone to feel isolated.
    If you are under 70 years of age and could volunteer to help others, let me know or keep an eye on the website for how to sign-up to help. Likewise, if you are over 70, or if your immune system is compromised and you’ve been told to self-isolate, or you are unwell already, please let me know or use the website to let me know so that we can offer you assistance and help.
  5. Finally, in coming days, some of the ‘machinery’ of our parish’s life will need to continue. I will need to work on a plan with the Churchwardens and our PCCs to make sure we can continue in ministry and mission, decision-making, attending to the fabric of our buildings, and managing parish finances. Provided you still have an income in this extraordinary global situation and you have the means to do so, I would strongly encourage you to continue your giving to your parish church. If our churches see a sudden drop in income, it does present a significant risk in the medium to long-term. If you don’t already give by Standing Order, I would ask you to seriously consider setting up a regular gift with your bank. Even if you don’t want to leave it in place long-term, doing so while this situation continues would really help while we are all unable to put anything into the collection Sunday by Sunday.
  6. On the other side of that coin, can I also ask that if you are in financial difficulty as a result of the Coronavirus situation, please do let me know in confidence. We would like to help you as much as possible. There are places I can turn for help and I suspect our Churches Together Foodbank and our vestry charity Relief in Need may need to be very active in the days to come.

Theologically-speaking, the Church is the Body of Christ and that is true whether we are gathered together on a Sunday or dispersed in our daily life. Regardless of these times, we continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world. For a while, being Christian and being Church together will simply look and feel different. We have a calling now to private prayer and to humbly serve those in. I would encourage you to play your full part in the days, weeks and months to come.

This will most likely be the last Pastoral Letter for a while since the situation is now clear and most likely won’t change until such time as we are given permission to worship together again. Perhaps, with such freedom taken from us from a while, we will gain a new appreciation for the blessing of our amazing buildings, and the blessing we find when we gather as a community to praise God and pray. What a day that will be when we can sing in worship together once again!

Please do keep in touch. Let’s keep doing community together and being church together. Pick up the phone, send an email, use the website, Facebook or Twitter, get creative where you can. Whether we are unwell or not, vulnerable or not, I suspect we will all need one another, let alone the Lord’s everlasting grace and love, in the days that lie ahead.

Please be assured of my prayers for you. Please pray for me too.

Yours in Christ

Rev David Green
Vicar

Concerning Coronavirus and Public Worship II

13 March 2020

Dear Worshipper

Update regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Public Worship

I am writing with a further update and instructions concerning our activities at St Mary’s in West Malling and St Michael’s in Offham given the current public health concerns.

Firstly in regard to our local communications, what has become very clear is that this is a fast-moving and fluid situation and sending letters is a relatively slow way in which to try and communicate with everyone, even if it does ensure everyone gets the information. Therefore, while I will continue to write if there are major changes in guidance, I would ask you to keep an eye on the church website for updates. If you do not have any Internet access, please phone me so I can add you to a list of people I know I need to communicate with in other ways.

The Church of England has now issued further advice to churches to both replace (in some cases) or supplement all that I shared with you before. The key new information is:

  • Do not attend church if you are unwell or asked to self-isolate.
    Please phone me if this is the case so that I am aware and together we can make suitable arrangements for your inclusion and pastoral care.
  • The administration of the Chalice at Holy Communion is suspended.
    Holy Communion will be offered in one kind only (the bread) and the Priest alone is to receive the wine.
  • Everyone should stand at the Communion Rail.
    Please do not kneel at the rail or touch the rail with your hands.
  • Shaking hands, or other direct physical contact is suspended.
    During the Peace, simply greet those in your immediate vicinity with a smile and the words “Peace be with you”. Don’t move around the church to greet others.
  • Priestly blessings or prayers with the laying on of hands are suspended.
    Prayers will be given in such circumstances without physical touch.
  • Refreshments are suspended.
    There will be no tea and coffee after services until further notice.
  • Passing around Collection Plates or Bags is suspended.
    There will be a collection plate at the back of church as you enter. Please place your offering in the plate as you come in (or if you don’t already do so, take this as an opportunity to start giving by standing order instead). There is an important side point here in that I would ask that you do make sure you continue to give, as best as you’re able and within your means. Our churches cannot easily withstand a massive drop in giving if people are not in church and therefore are not making any financial contribution.
  • Use of the Chasuble is suspended and other robes are to be regularly cleaned.
    Because I lack confidence that our historic and somewhat elderly Chasubles and Stoles would survive regular deep cleans, the only other option is not to use them. Clergy will be responsible for regular washing of their own cassock albs, cassocks, surplices, stoles and preaching scarves (as is always the case anyway).

Where it does not contradict what is written here, all of the previous advice I passed on to you still applies. The most key bit of advice remains that the best way of protecting everyone from the spread of a virus is for everyone to use universal good hygiene, – this means everyone, all the time, effectively disrupting the virus.

  • Catch it – sneeze into a tissue.
  • Bin it – bin the tissue.
  • Kill it – wash your hands.
  • Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands.

Could church services and other church events be cancelled?

At this time there is no guidance to do that. Parishes have been asked to prepare a contingency plan should government advice change. I am now preparing that plan with our Churchwardens, other Clergy and Lay Ministers and PCC. Everything I said before about the benefits of meeting still applies and it is in times of adversity, that our community strength gives testimony to our faith in Christ, provides encouragement to all, and supports the weak, the vulnerable and the isolated. If the Government does ban public gatherings, the contingency plan will cover what happens next but, amongst other things, I intend to try and use our website to try and provide worship, prayer and a sermon each week for you to engage with from home.

Pastoral Visiting

Church of England guidance is now that those who are told to self isolate and/or are unwell, cannot receive pastoral visits. Instructions are for Clergy to do pastoral care over the phone in such circumstances. When I am visiting others who have decided not to attend church as a precaution, other ministers and I will continue to observe all sensible precautions in personal hygiene myself before and after such visits. Of course, if I or other Ministers get unwell, our contingency plan will need to cover that eventuality as well.

Keep talking!

It’s obviously vital that we keep a good flow of communication. Keep an eye on the website. I will write when appropriate. If you are one of our older members and decide to stop attending for a while, please let me know you’re doing that so we can support you. If your immune system is compromised for any reason, please let me know. If you become unwell and are told to self isolate, please let me know.

As we do each week, please join me in prayer for all those in authority, for our medical services and those on the front line, and for those who are unwell and their families.

Yours in Christ

Rev David Green
Incumbent

Concerning Coronavirus and Public Worship

5 March 2020

Dear Worshipper

You will be aware of the media coverage of the recent spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease and our own Government’s recent announcements aimed to limit the spread in the UK and mitigate the risks to public health.

It is always important to keep things in balance and not to feed unnecessary fear. More people will die around the world this year because of influenza, while many people who get Coronavirus may not even realise they have it. There is a sense in which this is primarily a moral panic. However, on the other hand, as fragile beings, we tend to be better off over-interpreting rather than under-interpreting danger and the disease does appear to present a particular risk to elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Therefore it seems timely, to write to everyone on the Electoral Roll and to provide a reminder of best practice in public worship. This is not just to combat Coronavirus but to avoid the spread of any infection. I think it is also important to stress that we need not avoid divine worship out of fear of infection, even as we balance the needs of fellow worshippers who are may be physically vulnerable and who may need extra support.

The following guidance is widely accepted in the Church of England as best practice and was recently re-endorsed by the Bishop of Rochester for all parishes in this Diocese. I would ask everyone to be mindful of the following:

Advice for Holy Communion

Washing hands: Myself and other ordained Priests presiding at the Eucharist, those handling the Chalice and servers will continue to follow proper hand washing and hand sanitizing techniques prior to the start of the service. We also use hand sanitizers immediately before the Preparation of the Table and the Eucharistic Prayer. We always do this anyway, and will continue to do so during the current scare. Congregations are also asked to follow general public health advice concerning washing your hands. Rather than sing “Happy Birthday” twice as you wash your hands, say the Lord’s Prayer instead! It takes about the same amount of time and will be of more spiritual benefit to you.

Intincting is not ideal: Intinction (dipping wafer into wine) is often felt to be preferable if you do have a stinking cold or other illness since it avoids the Communicant placing their lips on the Chalice and is sometimes seen as a courtesy to your fellow worshippers. However, it can be counter-productive if, by dipping, your fingers go in the wine! Those with gluten intolerance for whom traces of gluten can be hazardous are also at greater risk when other communicants have dipped their communion wafer into the wine.

The answer is to receive Holy Communion in one kind: If you feel unwell or are concerned about sharing the Chalice, the solution is not to to intinct (dip) but to remember that Anglican teaching and theology agrees that it is “valid” to receive the Sacrament in one kind since to do so is to receive the Sacrament in its entirety. If you do not wish to drink from the Chalice, simply receive the consecrated bread alone.

The Peace: In welcoming and greeting each other in church and as we exchange the Peace we will often shake hands. By washing hands thoroughly and by using clean tissues we can help to reduce the risk of infection significantly. It is perfectly fine not to shake hands with others if you are concerned about a spread of germs and simply to greet one another with the words ‘Peace be with you’, a smile and a wave. I have also asked our Churchwardens to ensure there is handwash available at the rear of church.

Advice for Pastoral Visiting

It is possible that we see a rise in the number of requests for Pastoral Visits at home and it is really important not to avoid any of our brethren who are unwell and in need of our love and support. Some may be ill themselves and told to self-isolate. Others, particularly those who are elderly or physically vulnerable in some way, may do so as a precaution and wish to avoid attending on Sunday for a period of time.

I want to reassure anyone in such circumstances that I will be very happy to conduct such pastoral visits and/or to do Home Communion with you. I will, of course, observe all sensible precautions in personal hygiene myself before and after such visits.

However, I will also need to call on the help of those who have been trained to operate in Pastoral Ministry as well and I would ask for your understanding if you are visited by someone from the Church but don’t get to see the Vicar. Particularly at this time when I am without administrative support, a rise in requests for visits will need to be carefully managed and fitted around my other commitments.

A final word…

Whether we are talking about Coronavirus or any other infectious illness, there is a balance to be struck in how we engage with the church community we call home when we, or people around us, are sick. I would encourage those who are not vulnerable to infection and are not unwell not to make decisions about their attendance at public worship on the basis of fear or panic. The Scriptures exhort us not to neglect to meet together, but to encourage one another (Heb 10.25) and faced with the panic of our society, the apostle John reminds us that there is no fear in love and God’s love casts out fear.

Furthermore, our Christian community gathering on Sundays for divine worship can be a helpful bulwark against difficulties and should, therefore, be embraced rather than avoided. Gathering for worship enables us to support one another, spot those who are missing for pastoral follow-up, organise ourselves to support the sick, and to pray.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns about the contents of this letter, have questions about our practice within worship or wish to arrange for a home visit.

Yours in Christ

Rev David Green
Incumbent

Annual meetings 2020

Photo by idono from FreeImages

Between March and May, it is the time of year when our parishes host their Annual Meetings*, sometimes known as the APCM.

In line with Charity law, the churches report on the year previous and publish their financial accounts. In addition, various officers are elected to serve in the coming year.

If you attend worship at one of our churches, please do make this meeting a priority. Even if you can’t be present, do take the time to read the reports (provided on this website as downloads) so that you can review all that has taken place in the last year, see how we are doing financially and (hopefully) be encouraged by the many good things that have been happening.

In each of the churches, we are also looking for new people to join our Parochial Church Councils (or PCC). PCC is a great opportunity to serve the church and to be a key part of the decision-making processes for our community. If you want to be a part of the key discussions affecting our future life, help to manage our building and finances, and get stuck in to seeing things happen, we would love to have you involved. Please consider standing.

St Michael’s Offham host their APCM on the 15th of March. St Mary’s West Malling host their APCM on the 17th of May.

Annual Report downloads

  • St Mary’s, West Malling Annual Report 2020
    (including Church Activities separate report) – not yet published.

* – Technically an ‘Annual Parochial Church Meeting’ or APCM.

Remembrance 2019

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 Brown will be leading.

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 simply service of Remembrance, led by Rev David Green. 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 welcome Ven Julie Conalty, the Archdeacon of Tonbridge as our guest speaker. Rev David Green will also be on hand to lead 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.

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

 

 

Harvest 2019

A photo of produce from Harvest Festival 2012 at St Mary's, West MallingOctober means it is Harvest Festival season for West Malling and Offham.

All-Age services will be taking place at West Malling and Offham as we celebrate all of God’s goodness to us in the food we eat and all that the earth provides.

This page provides some brief details for those interested in joining us for the Harvest celebrations.

Services

  • Offham Harvest All-Age Service, St Michael’s Church
    Sunday 6 October, 9.15 a.m. till 10.15 a.m.
  • West Malling Harvest All-Age Service, St Mary’s Church
    Sunday 13 October, 10.00 a.m. till 11.00 a.m.

Offerings

As usual, everyone is very welcome to bring a donation of food as part of their act of thanksgiving. Dried and tinned goods with a ‘best before’ date a good way into the future are ideal, but all and any gifts are welcome. This year, the donations will be passed on in equal shares to Pilsdon at Malling, the Kenward Trust in Yalding, and the West Malling Churches’ Foodbank (based at Pilsdon). All do fantastic work amongst those in need of extra help.

 

 

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