Notices, 10 October 2021

Notices, 10 October 2021

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

Changes to church services in Stage 4 out of Lockdown now in effect

Both of our churches have now agreed some changes to our practice with England moving to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have now been implemented and are in effect.

A thank you from David and Kerry

David and Kerry would like to offer their sincere thanks to everyone at St Mary’s and St Michael’s for their generosity and kind words and encouragements to mark the 10th anniversary of David’s licensing as our Vicar. It was a lovely occasion last Sunday and our thanks to all who helped organise and prepare the morning’s celebrations. They’re now pondering how to spend the kind financial gift in a way that David, Kerry and the three children can all benefit.

Harvest Festival thanks from Offham

Thank you to everyone who donated food for Harvest Festival. The gifts have now been distributed to the Pilsdon at Malling Community and the Kenward Trust in Yalding. Our thanks also to everyone who donated or contributed dishes of various kinds to the Harvest Lunch. Thanks also to those who helped set-up, wash-up and clear up.

Harvest Festival this Sunday in West Malling

Our All-Age Service today in West Malling St Mary’s Harvest Festival and will be live-streamed via YouTube at 10 o’clock on Sunday. Please do bring food donations (preferably dried or tinned goods) to church for our distribution to Pilsdon and the Kenward Trust in Yalding. If you forgot to bring anything with you or can’t make the service in-person, you can always drop it into church tomorrow or the day after.

Ride and Stride thank you

Thanks to everyone’s efforts, £800 was raised for Ride & Stride this year at St Mary’s in West Malling, half of which comes back to St Mary’s Church and the rest goes to support Kent’s churches through the Friends of Kent Churches.

Our sincere thanks to all those who cycled or walked between churches and raised sponsorship for their efforts. Our thanks also to those who stayed at St Mary’s to welcome the riders and striders from other churches who visited us. A good effort all round. We hope to announce the total for St Michael’s, Offham in due course.

Help for Afghans – thanks

Thank you to everyone who donated to our collection for the charity Welcome Churches, an organisation who help Afghan refugees arriving in the UK to find support. We have transferred a grand total of £760.00 to them this last week.

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

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

Remembrance Sunday, 14 November

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

Christmas Floral Demonstration, West Malling

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

Prayer list prune at St Mary’s!

We are always very happy to intercede and pray for anyone who needs prayer. However, sometimes our prayer list can grow to a size that’s unwieldy because people often ask to go on the list, but sometimes forget to ask to come off the list again!

If you are on the list (or have a family member on the list), please can you ask Rev David to keep you on the list sometime in the next fortnight? On the 10th of October, we will reset the list to zero to help address this issue. But please, please do ask if you would like your name (or a friend’s name) to stay on the list. We’re always glad to pray.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 15th of October.

Notices, 3 October 2021

Notices, 3 October 2021

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

Changes to church services in Stage 4 out of Lockdown now in effect

Both of our churches have now agreed some changes to our practice with England moving to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have now been implemented and are in effect.

A thank you from David and Kerry

David and Kerry would like to offer their sincere thanks to everyone at St Mary’s and St Michael’s for their generosity and kind words and encouragements to mark the 10th anniversary of David’s licensing as our Vicar. It was a lovely occasion last Sunday and our thanks to all who helped organise and prepare the morning’s celebrations. They’re now pondering how to spend the kind financial gift in a way that David, Kerry and the three children can all benefit.

Harvest Festival plans (3 and 10 October)

This Sunday is St Michael’s Harvest Festival. Please do bring food donations (preferably dried or tinned goods) to church for our distribution to Pilsdon and the Kenward Trust in Yalding. After church, there will be a Harvest Lunch in the Village Hall from 12.30 onwards. Jane Jordan has been contacting people separately to organise, bring and share food as in previous years.

In West Malling, Harvest Festival will take place next Sunday on the 10th of October. The same instructions are in place for food donations (preferably dried or tinned goods). Please bring them along to the Harvest Festival service and we will ensure they are donated to Pilsdon and the Kenward Trust.

Return of Prayer and Hymn Books

If you took home copies of hymn books or Common Worship books or booklets at the start of the Pandemic, we would appreciate it if you could now return them to church. With restrictions relaxing and more normal patterns of worship taking place, we now need them back to use in services. Please just leave them at the back of church when you’re next in the building.

If you are still shielding or staying away from services on an ongoing basis, it’s fine to keep hold of the books so that you can continue to use them. We’re just asking those who have returned to services in the church buildings to return their books.

Let’s Do Lunch looking for volunteers

Churches Together in Malling have re-started Let’s Do Lunch. For the first three weeks, there will be a coffee morning, rather than a lunch, until everyone gets used to coming together again.

Sadly, since lockdown, the pool of volunteers who are able to take on responsible roles has reduced.  CTIM are therefore looking to the local churches to help as they look for volunteers with a heart to help the elderly, the isolated and lonely. The commitment is for 2-3 hours either every week, every fortnight, or once a month – depending on what time you have to spare.

Let’s do Lunch meets on a Thursday at the Dorcas centre in Larkfield. If anyone is interested to help, please email alihayton55@gmail.com.

Job advert – Bursar at the Abbey

The Diocese are advertising for a new Bursar (3 days a week, 21 hours) for the St Benedict’s Centre at West Malling Abbey. The role involves managing bookings, financial administration and being the public face of the centre. To find out more and/or apply, visit pathways.churchofengland.org.

Help for Haiti

In mid-August, Haiti suffered a major 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Our local parishes have links to Hope, Health, Action (HHA) who work in the country. At the time of writing, they reported 1,297 people have died and over 5,000 injured although the true figures could be much higher. They report that “our team and hospital in northern Haiti are safe and actively working with the authorities and our partners across Haiti to determine how best we can help.”

You can support the work of HHA and help the people of Haiti by donating via the HHA website here.

Help for Afghans

We know many within the Diocese of Rochester and beyond are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and are seeking ways they can help. The organisation Welcome Churches has set up an emergency fund to help support Afghan families who are being relocated from Afghanistan to the UK for their safety.

Between now and the end of September, St Michael’s are taking up a collection for Welcome Churches. The Diocese have asked all parishes to focus their efforts through this ecumenical UK-based charity. Bring a gift to church or pass on directly to Ken Jordan, our Treasurer.

You can find out more about them and donate to support their work via their website here.

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

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

Prayer list prune at St Mary’s!

We are always very happy to intercede and pray for anyone who needs prayer. However, sometimes our prayer list can grow to a size that’s unwieldy because people often ask to go on the list, but sometimes forget to ask to come off the list again!

If you are on the list (or have a family member on the list), please can you ask Rev David to keep you on the list sometime in the next fortnight? On the 10th of October, we will reset the list to zero to help address this issue. But please, please do ask if you would like your name (or a friend’s name) to stay on the list. We’re always glad to pray.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 8th of October.

Notices, 26 September 2021

Notices, 26 September 2021

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

Changes to church services in Stage 4 out of Lockdown now in effect

Both of our churches have now agreed some changes to our practice with England moving to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have now been implemented and are in effect.

A thank you from David and Kerry

David and Kerry would like to offer their sincere thanks to everyone at St Mary’s and St Michael’s for their generosity and kind words and encouragements to mark the 10th anniversary of David’s licensing as our Vicar. It was a lovely occasion last Sunday and our thanks to all who helped organise and prepare the morning’s celebrations. They’re now pondering how to spend the kind financial gift in a way that David, Kerry and the three children can all benefit.

Harvest Festival plans (3 and 10 October)

Next Sunday will be St Michael’s Harvest Festival. Please do bring food donations (preferably dried or tinned goods) to church next Sunday for our distribution to Pilsdon and the Kenward Trust in Yalding. After church, there will be a Harvest Lunch in the Village Hall from 12.30 onwards. Jane Jordan will be contacting people separately to organise, bring and share food as in previous years.

In West Malling, Harvest Festival will take place on the 10th of October. The same instructions are in place for food donations (preferably dried or tinned goods). Please bring them along to the Harvest Festival service and we will ensure they are donated to Pilsdon and the Kenward Trust.

Return of Prayer and Hymn Books

If you took home copies of hymn books or Common Worship books or booklets at the start of the Pandemic, we would appreciate it if you could now return them to church. With restrictions relaxing and more normal patterns of worship taking place, we now need them back to use in services. Please just leave them at the back of church when you’re next in the building.

If you are still shielding or staying away from services on an ongoing basis, it’s fine to keep hold of the books so that you can continue to use them. We’re just asking those who have returned to services in the church buildings to return their books.

Ride & Stride thank you!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Friends of Kent Churches Ride and Stride on the 11th of September to raise funds for Friends of Kent Churches and for St Michael’s and St Mary’s respectively. We will let you know how much we raised in due course.

Let’s Do Lunch re-starts 23 September

Churches Together in Malling are re-starting Let’s Do Lunch. For the first three weeks, there will be a coffee morning, rather than a lunch, until everyone gets used to coming together again.

Sadly, since lockdown, the pool of volunteers who are able to take on responsible roles has reduced.  CTIM are therefore looking to the local churches to help as they look for volunteers with a heart to help the elderly, the isolated and lonely. The commitment is for 2-3 hours either every week, every fortnight, or once a month – depending on what time you have to spare.

Let’s do Lunch meets on a Thursday at the Dorcas centre in Larkfield. If anyone is interested to help, please email alihayton55@gmail.com.

Job advert – Bursar at the Abbey

The Diocese are advertising for a new Bursar (3 days a week, 21 hours) for the St Benedict’s Centre at West Malling Abbey. The role involves managing bookings, financial administration and being the public face of the centre. To find out more and/or apply, visit pathways.churchofengland.org.

Music at Malling festival is underway

Details are now available for the Music at Malling Festival. Events are taking place live and online from the 24th of September to the 2nd of October. There’s an incredible array of musical talent and concerts coming our way at the end of this month in a variety of styles to suit all sorts of musical palates. Full information and tickets available from www.musicatmalling.com. You can also pick-up tickets at the Down Swan Street gift shop in West Malling High Street.

Help for Haiti

In mid-August, Haiti suffered a major 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Our local parishes have links to Hope, Health, Action (HHA) who work in the country. At the time of writing, they reported 1,297 people have died and over 5,000 injured although the true figures could be much higher. They report that “our team and hospital in northern Haiti are safe and actively working with the authorities and our partners across Haiti to determine how best we can help.”

You can support the work of HHA and help the people of Haiti by donating via the HHA website here.

Help for Afghans

We know many within the Diocese of Rochester and beyond are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and are seeking ways they can help. The organisation Welcome Churches has set up an emergency fund to help support Afghan families who are being relocated from Afghanistan to the UK for their safety.

Between now and the end of September, St Michael’s are taking up a collection for Welcome Churches. The Diocese have asked all parishes to focus their efforts through this ecumenical UK-based charity. Bring a gift to church or pass on directly to Ken Jordan, our Treasurer.

You can find out more about them and donate to support their work via their website here.

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

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

Prayer list prune at St Mary’s!

We are always very happy to intercede and pray for anyone who needs prayer. However, sometimes our prayer list can grow to a size that’s unwieldy because people often ask to go on the list, but sometimes forget to ask to come off the list again!

If you are on the list (or have a family member on the list), please can you ask Rev David to keep you on the list sometime in the next fortnight? On the 10th of October, we will reset the list to zero to help address this issue. But please, please do ask if you would like your name (or a friend’s name) to stay on the list. We’re always glad to pray.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 1st of October.

Notices, 5 September 2021

Notices, 5 September 2021

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

Changes to church services in Stage 4 out of Lockdown now in effect

Both of our churches have now agreed some changes to our practice with England moving to Stage 4 out of Lockdown. You can find out more about the changes on our website by following this link here. The changes have now been implemented and are in effect.

Return of Prayer and Hymn Books

If you took home copies of hymn books, or the BCP Prayer Book or the small blue ‘Common Worship Order Two’ booklets at the start of the Pandemic, we would appreciate it if you could now return them to church. With restrictions relaxing and more normal patterns of worship taking place, we now need them back to use in services. Please just leave them at the back of church when you’re next in the building.

If you are still shielding or staying away from services on an ongoing basis, it’s fine to keep hold of the books so that you can continue to use them. We’re just asking those who have returned to services in the church buildings to return their books.

Ride and Stride 2021, 11 September 2021

This year’s Friends of Kent Churches Ride and Stride is coming up on Saturday September the 11th.

Participants plan their own routes with the assistance of a printed list of churches and chapels open. There are loads of places of worship open, scattered right across the county, and wherever you go you’ll be assured of a warm welcome. Go individually, as a couple, with friends and family, with a cycling club, with your work colleagues, with school friends, with choirs, with a sports team – whoever you wish.

On the Ride and Stride website, you’ll be able to download a sponsor form. Half of the money you raise goes to Friends of Kent Churches, the other half goes to your local parish church. So please do ride and stride for St Mary’s and St Michael’s.​

Music at Malling festival starts later this month

Details are now available for the Music at Malling Festival. Events will be taking place live and online from the 24th of September to the 2nd of October. There’s an incredible array of musical talent and concerts coming our way at the end of this month in a variety of styles to suit all sorts of musical palates. Full information and tickets available from www.musicatmalling.com. You can also pick-up tickets at the Down Swan Street gift shop in West Malling High Street.

Help for Haiti

In mid-August, Haiti suffered a major 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Our local parishes have links to Hope, Health, Action (HHA) who work in the country. At the time of writing, they reported 1,297 people have died and over 5,000 injured although the true figures could be much higher. They report that “our team and hospital in northern Haiti are safe and actively working with the authorities and our partners across Haiti to determine how best we can help.”

You can support the work of HHA and help the people of Haiti by donating via the HHA website here.

Help for Afghans

We know many within the Diocese of Rochester and beyond are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and are seeking ways they can help. The organisation Welcome Churches, has set up an emergency fund to help support Afghan families who are being relocated from Afghanistan to the UK for their safety.

You can find out more about them and donate to support their work via their website here.

Alan’s Christmas Cards at St Mary’s

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

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 networks are actively serving those who have to shield and stay at home. To sign-up to help as a volunteer or to ask for help from the Network, please click the respective button below to find out more about the West Malling Volunteers if you live in West Malling. Or, if you live in Offham, click the button to sign-up to the Offham Community Network.

West Malling   Offham

Choral Scholars project progress in West Malling

Things are going well for our new Choral and Organ scholars project. We have now confirmed appointments for our Organ Scholar and for two of the four choral scholars. We have our Soprano and Tenor and are still scouting for our Alto and Bass. If you know anyone who might be interested, please do let us know or encourage them to visit our website here.

If you have not yet given financially to the scheme and intended to do so, please don’t switch off or think that your gift is not relevant. Anything you give will simply help us to safeguard the longer term future of the project.
You can donate by making out a cheque to “West Malling PCC” or give online by visiting the JustGiving website here:
www.justgiving.com/campaign/stmarysmusicscholars.

David’s day off

Rev David’s day off this week will be Friday the 10th of September.

Stage 4 out of Lockdown

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

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

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

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

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

Pattern of services

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

Capacity and seating and face coverings

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

Liturgy

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

Opening for private prayer

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

Pastoral visits

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

Online worship

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

What is not coming back yet

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

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

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

Annual Meetings 2021

Photo by idono from FreeImages

Between March and May each year, parishes must 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.

Unfortunately, because of Coronavirus, the restricted capacity of our church buildings means that we cannot host our APCMs in person. Instead, we will host them online using Zoom teleconferencing software.

If you have not received details of the Zoom invitation via a letter or email, please contact us to be sent details.

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 19th of April 2021 at 7.30 p.m. St Mary’s West Malling host their APCM on the 20th of April 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

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

The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021

It is with great sadness that we have learned the news of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday the 9th of April 2021.

Prince Philip’s long life and his unstinting support of the Queen over more than 70 years of marriage have contributed immensely to the life of the nation at home and abroad.

He will also be remembered for his personal initiatives and support in many spheres, not least his encouragement of young people, particularly with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, founded in 1956.

Local plans

The Union Flag currently flies at half-mast at St Mary’s in West Malling and will do so until 8 a.m. on the day following the funeral.

On the day of the funeral (Saturday 17 April), the tenor bell will be tolled at St Mary’s 99 times in the hour before the funeral at 3.00 p.m. You should be able to hear the bell toll roughly once every 30 seconds, excluding the quarter hour chimes, throughout the whole hour.

In more normal times, we would anticipate opening our churches to offer local residents the chance to sign a Book of Condolence. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 safety restrictions mean that the Palace has requested that books are not signed.

Instead, the nation has been encouraged to send a message of condolence online via the Royal Family’s website. Follow this link to send your message now.

Prayers

We invite you to join us in remembering His Royal Highness in prayer with these words:

Blessed Jesus,
Lord of Lords and King of Kings,
we give you thanks
for the life of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh .
for the grace and mercy
he received from you,
for his faithful love and support
of Her Majesty, The Queen,
and his service to this nation
at home and abroad.
Enfold him in your everlasting arms
grant him rest
and raise him up at the last
in the company of the saints in light. Amen

We remember, too, the Royal Family in their bereavement.

O God, our sovereign and shepherd,
who brought again your Son, Jesus Christ,
from the valley of death,
comfort, we pray,
The Queen and all the Royal Family
with your protecting presence.
Fill them with your Holy Spirit;
and with your heavenly peace;
and bring them at the last
to your everlasting kingdom;
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Re-opening our church buildings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A warm welcome to Amy

Amy Southby

Amy Southby

At the start of November, St Mary’s and St Michael’s welcomed Amy Southby as our new Cluster Administrator to support Rev David, our Churchwardens and the organisational side of church life.

In a development of the role, the Pilsdon at Malling Community have also partnered with us and the rest of the Cluster. Amy will work with West Malling, Offham and Pilsdon while a second administrator (as yet unannounced) will work with Kings Hill, Wateringbury, Mereworth and West Peckham.

Before taking on this role, Amy worked predominantly in the recruitment industry. She studied at the University of the Arts in London and holds a BA Honours degree in Journalism. In recent years  Amy moved away from office-based positions and worked for the Royal British Legion as a carer for elderly veterans; something she found very rewarding.

Amy lives in Aylesford with her two children aged 11 and 6, her cat and her dog.

Amy says of herself:

Having worked in administration and as a carer, I decided that I wanted to find a role that encompassed elements of both job roles. As much as I enjoy working in administration, I missed interaction with people. So, when the Cluster Administrator job advert popped up on my computer, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I am very much looking forward to meeting everybody and getting to know all the faces that make up St Mary’s and St Michael’s.”

Advent and Christmas 2020

The impact of Coronavirus on our world will have a major impact on our plans for Advent and Christmas 2020. Many of the time-honoured traditions of our worship and celebrations at Christmas will have to adapt to the changes in our circumstances.

We remain committed to celebrating Christmas, the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as fully as possible. However we are also committed to being loving neighbours and responsible members of our local communities and want to ensure everyone is kept safe and healthy.

** update about Tier 4 **

Kent is now in Tier 4 and while Government have said churches can open for communal worship, Rev David has written a letter (and recorded a video) to provide some pastoral guidance and advice as you ponder whether to attend.

Dates for the diary

What’s happening and what’s not happening this year?

A photo of the choir from the Carol Service at Offham, 2012Wed 23 Dec, 8.00 pm
Live-streamed Carol online service from St Michael’s, Offham

St Michael’s, Offham
We live-streamed a special service on our YouTube channel for all those who wished to take part in our Carol Service for 2020. From the beautiful, ancient church of St Michael’s we hosted a candle-lit evening service of Christmas readings and carols with our Director of Music Stewart Biggs, guest Choirmaster Richard King leading a special guest choir.

If you missed the service on the night, you can still watch it on catch-up via YouTube. If you want to sing along, an Order of Service is available to download with all the words of the carols.

Congregation, St Mary's, Christingle 2011Thu 24 Dec, 4.00 pm
Pre-recorded Christingle online service with nativity from St Mary’s, West Malling

St Mary’s, West Malling
Although the highly popular Christmas Eve Christingle cannot take place in church this year, we hosted a special Christingle service on our YouTube channel on Christmas Eve.

Rev David spoke about the Christingle, our Sunday School presented their special Zoom nativity, while Richard Hammond-Hall and St Mary’s Choir recorded the Christmas Carols for us to sing along.

The words of the Carols will appear on screen but, if you want to do so, you can download an Order of Service so you can sing along from home.

Fri 25 Dec, 8.00 am
Holy Communion (BCP) in church

St Mary’s, West Malling
Traditional language, reflective and quiet Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion service. This service will be ticketed. 21 households maximum capacity. To book, please contact us.

Small girl, St Mary's, Christingle 2011Fri 25 Dec, 9.15 am
All-Age Communion service in church

St Michael’s, Offham
Child-friendly Eucharist service to celebrate Christmas Day. The children are encouraged to bring one of their presents to ‘show and tell’ as part of the service. This service will be ticketed. 8 households maximum capacity. To book, please contact us.

Fri 25 Dec, 10.00 am
All-Age Communion service in church

St Mary’s, West Malling
Child-friendly Eucharist service to celebrate Christmas Day. The children are encouraged to bring one of their presents to ‘show and tell’ as part of the service. This service will be ticketed. 21 households maximum capacity. To book, please contact us.

Fri 25 Dec, from 7.30 am
Christmas Day Online Worship

For those unable to come to church in person this year, an act of Online Worship will also be available on Christmas Day. You can log on anytime from 7.30 a.m. onwards to take part.

Sun 27 Dec, 10.00 am
Benefice Service for first Sunday after Christmas in church

St Mary’s, West Malling
There is no 8 am at St Mary’s or 9.15 at St Michael’s on this Sunday. Instead, we come together as one congregation for a joint Benefice service. Canon Alan Vousden will be leading and we gather at St Mary’s, West Malling. This service will be ticketed. 21 households maximum capacity. To book, please contact us.

There will also be an act of Online Worship available from 7.30 a.m. for those who are unable to come to church in person.

 

What is not happening this year

For the avoidance of any doubt, here’s the list of things we are sadly unable to host in 2020.

  • The Christmas Tree Festival (St Mary’s, West Malling)
  • The West Malling Community Choir Christmas Concert (St Mary’s, West Malling)
  • The Heart of Kent Hospice Christmas Concert (St Mary’s, West Malling)
  • Carols in the Pub (Kings Arms, Offham with St Michael’s, Offham)
  • Christingle services in both churches (although there will be a service online)
  • Midnight Communion on Christmas Eve (St Mary’s, West Malling)
Pages:12345»