Reaching Out Across the Benefice...

This Benefice supports:
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Dover_Outreach_Centre logopngIt was great to welcome back Vee Bentley and Noel Beamish from Dover Outreach Centre at our 10am service last Sunday (12th January) - It's hard to believe a year had passed since their last visit.  Since then, they have moved in to their new premises on Snargate Street and are able to expand their services as they help homeless and vulnerable people off the streets, out of addiction and back to properly living their lives.  The story of Amy, just one of the people they have helped this past year, was incredible in both the success of the outcome and the time and dedication that Vee, Noel and the volunteers down at the DOC give to the most vulnerable in our society.  They also highlighted the sheer cost of sending just one person to alcohol addiction rehabilitation - £17,000 for this longterm, two stage process.  There are no short-cuts to regaining health and stability in your life, and we are proud to continue to support this oasis of compassion, tough love and action that makes such a difference.

2020 - a new year, one that feels slightly odd writing down, like you're writing about some distant sci-fi future.  The January Saturday Service also marked our annual trip to see the ladies at Amy Temple Cottages.  We were shepherded this year by Rev'd Polly and it was lovely to introduce her to one of our little traditions.  Amazingly, the weather was kind. No cold drizzle, barely a breeze - we didn't know quite what to make of it!  We got to see three ladies this year (some of the cottages are undergoing renovations) including a brand new resident (literally only moved in three days before) who was delighted to become part of our annual mini-pilgrimage.  It also explained the chalk markings on her wall!  The children made Epiphany star ornaments to gift to the ladies and sang beautifully.  Then it was back to the church for refreshments and a catch-up of Christmas family goings on before we parted ways. 

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  Making our gifts for the ladies

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On the road with the gang

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Then back to the church for refreshments, and to crown Ines as our Queen for the Day!

The Cribside Service on Christmas Eve at St Margaret's is always a wonderful community event - and this year was no exception!  A truly packed house was ably officiated over by Rev'd Richard, with marvellous marshalls to assist with crowd control.  We were also treated to Isla's young talent on the organ for a number of carols.

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Such a busy time of year, praticularly for the children - school Christmas activities and productions have been in full swing and the church is just as busy! Our little porch decoration at St Margaret's remind us that we're awaiting the arrival of a little baby (not a man in a big red suit) and is a gentle prompt to keep our focus on what counts at this time of year.

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We had our Advent Children's Craft Morning on Saturday 7th, and whilst illness was ripping through many families we welcomed those that came and enjoyed our activities. We always value the good conversation and interactions between the families, and the chance to actually talk properly while little ones get (literally) stuck in to the craft. Maybe we should start up art therapy sessions...

After everything was glued down, we went to Post Office corner to decorate the village Christmas tree with red and gold ribbons, which has become an annual tradition which we love. The weather was relatively kind this year, afterall, we have done it before in the driving rain, but I think I may need to go and check those ribbons tomorrow as it is blowing an absolute gale right now!

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Our ribbon wranglers
Sunday 8th saw our Academy Award winning St Margaret's Nativity play, and this year it delighted and entertained in equal measure!  The cast assembled, costumes getting more creative each year, and with the invaluable help from our two Stage Directors, Henry and Finley, corralling the masses under the tower, the characters were sent forth to create the nativity scene on the dais - some willingly, some running to catch up, some with parental 'encouragement', but all essential elements of what makes for a wonderful nativity play.  Narrator this year was the wonderful Rosie, and we were truly blessed with the gorgeous Hunter as our baby Jesus, who spent the entire time holding my finger, totally happy in the crib.  So much so, that he stayed in there for a considerable time afterwards!
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Some of our marvellous cast

The rest of the service was Christingle, and Sandy and Daredevil Doreen (sporting lit candle) brought it all together beautifully.  I'm sure we had a bucket of sand to hand somewhere, should we have needed to upend Doreen in it in an emergency!
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Doesn't look at all worried...

It's always so lovely to see so many families and young people, and for them to enjoy their time in church, in the presence of God, and I highly encourage the dancing in the aisles that Teddy and co were doing to our final hymn.  There can be times when we should be sombre and serious in our worship, and there are times when we should revel in the joy that it brings.  This was definitely one of those times!

There were services of Remembrance across the Benefice - young and old alike joining together to pay respects to those lost, those returned and those left behind.

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November is the month of Remembrance - and the Saturday Service was a place to gently introduce the concept, along with the familiar symbolism of the poppy.

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The next Saturday Service will be the Advent Craft Morning on Saturday 7th December.  Slightly different from a regular session, we have a variety of Christmas Crafts for the younsters (and adults!) to have a go at, accompanied by carols, minced pies and mulled wine.

October Saturday Service (I typed 'servive' then, Freudian slip if ever I saw one - this was the first Saturday Service without Diane) was a celebration of Harvest - we put a particular emphasis on remembering to say "thank you" for all the farmers and other people whose efforts mean we have food on the table every day; to say "thank you" for all the people who work at the Food Bank to make sure that those who cannot put food on the table have a means to do so.  We talked about sharing and maybe just using what we need, rather than what we want, so that we not only reduce waste but make sure that we can be generous with the extra. 

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Had a wonderful Saturday Service to welcome in the new school year - so lovely to see so many, including visits from our original Saturday Service members (who are now 17!) and a family new to the village, Sarah and Matthew with their three lovely children.  OK, we did have an alterior motive, as it was Diane's last Saturday Service before she retires, so we wanted to give her a good send-off, but it is just so encouraging to continue to receive such support and friendship from our families.  The theme, appropriately, was Endings & New Beginnings, as we talked about new school classes, finding new challenges and moving on.  Everyone was given a calendar to mark on new events which they personalised with stickers.  Coincidentally (or maybe not) one set of stickers was dinosaurs, and our craft activity was making balloon dinosaurs - themselves such a symbol of an ending and a beginning.



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Spot the difference...

The weather was perfect for the Toddler Group Fun Day yesterday, Sunday 4th August.  We were delighted to have been asked to participate and we we present as The Saturday Service, with a craft activity of drawing on some lovely white cobbles - the children are really creative and we had a variety of animals, flowers, patterns and symbols taken away to treasure.  With around ten stalls, live music from Emma Rosen and hospitality from the Cricket Club, it was a well-attended event with all activities free of chagre, made possible by generous donations from Tony King and Dave Wiltshire.  Support of our young families is so important, and to see everyone come together on such a lovely day was delightful.


A  new war memorial on East Langdon village green was dedicated on 28th July, which was commissioned by the Parish Council, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. St Augustine's, East Langdon and St Mary's, West Langdon were instrumental in bringing this about, and the ceremony was witnessed by around 30 people.  Do go and see it for yourself.

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We had a lively Saturday Service on the 1st June at St Margaret's, as we talked about Pentecost - we shared how this was the birthday of the Church as by the power of the Holy Spirit, disciples went out across the world to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We celebrated this gift of the Holy Spirit in our craft.

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May already, and the Saturday Services resumed after our little Easter break - we looked forward to Ascension and Jesus returning to his place in Heaven, and talked about the nature of what 'home' meant to us. We talked about what were the essentials required to call somewhere 'home' and put some of them down in a picture.

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Our next Saturday Service will be 1st June.

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The Easter season contains the whole spectrum of emotions in the Church year - we have the joyous entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the shock and fear of the betrayal of Jesus, the grief of crucifixion, joy at the resurrection on Easter Day, then maybe, the uncertainty of what you do with all this truth in the time following. We know how the events play out, and still is does not fail to move us. Part of helping us experience Easter involves the wonderful procession into the church of the congregation led by Arthur and Smithy, two placid Shetland Ponies, as we hold our palms up high, bringing to life in our small way the procession into Jerusalem. Accompanied by the reading of the Passion Gospel, it makes for a very personal.

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We were also delighted to display our Easter Gardens in church, carefully and prayerfully made.

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What a glorious day for our Mothering Sunday Children's Craft Morning - we welcomed our wonderful families and visitors as the youngsters made a selection of delightful things for that someone special in their lives. Everyone contributed to our rainbow collage celebrating love, which can be seen in the Children's Corner. The Mothering Sunday Service was a joyful occasion, all the more enhanced by the ample contribution from our wonderful young people and fantastic choir.


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Gargoyles at Canterbury Cathedral

During the half term holiday, Canterbury Cathedral ran a free children’s activity making clay Gargoyles. So the two grandchildren and I set off for the day. I used my Canterbury Cathedral pass. We turned up in good time. We followed a mother and child who looked as if they knew where they were going. Sure enough there were two stone masons carving gargoyles outside the Visitor Centre. We were at the right place. We were met by a lovely Canadian lady who sat us down, showed us the tools, showed us examples, and gave us some soft clay with which to work our masterpieces. Gargoyles aren’t the prettiest of faces so we did our worst. Yes me too, I wasn’t going to miss out on the fun.

Round the walls were colourful posters of Cathedral life, and a short history of the times. In the adjoining theatre there was a film running to show how gargoyles are made. It was interesting to see the real thing in the making. I wish I had paid more attention at this stage! It was a short film but you will understand I had one eye on the grand children. I remember seeing the original being dipped in lime wash. The stone mason would take a block of stone and fashion a replica of the clay head. The stone masons showed great dexterity. Deep groves were made to create shadow on the faces, so the details could easily be seen from the ground below. The last task was to drill a large hole through the mouth to act as a water spout.

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Look at the picture of two identical heads. The one at the back is the original. The one at the front is the stone masons copy made with chisel and stone. Look at the finer detail, and deeper carving. The stone mason has done an amazing job.

We were then offered the chance to carve our initials on to a quoin stone to be used as a replacement on the west face of the south west tower. So we all had a go. The initial “S” requires quite an amount of dexterity to shape round the curves. Practice makes perfect. It is more difficult than you think. We were given a map to show the location of where the quoin stones will placed. A6 and A13 are our stones.

Our clay gargoyles had to be left for a period of time to dry. So we took a trip round the Cathedral. The guide on the door gave Emily a Tomb Trail leaflet showing the floor plan and items to look for. We were told about a new excavation in the Cloisters revealing the original tile flooring below the paving stones. We looked at the modern very colourful Bossanyi stained glass windows, and windows showing bible stories. We went up into the quire. We looked at the tomb of the Black Prince, and the prayer niches nearby. Have you ever noticed them? The shape of the stone absorbs the sounds of the spoken prayers of those kneeling side by side.

The children were quite keen to see the martyrdom. Kids!

We went out of the door to the cloisters and looked at the newly revealed 13th century red tile flooring, with its fleur-de-lys pattern and couldn’t leave without having a look at the modern stained glass infill at the top of the tracery window, on the far side of the cloister. It shows sheaves of wheat. It’s worth a trip round the cloister. Have you missed this tracery window?

We passed the magnificent horse statue in the grounds, on our way back from lunch and collected our gargoyles before we left for home. The team were delighted to have had a stream of 200 people a day coming in to participate in the free children’s activity.

There is so much work in progress at the Cathedral, so much going on. If you haven’t been to Canterbury Cathedral lately it is worth another visit.

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March Family Service saw the congregation again plunged into the care of Liz and Vivienne - we were thinking about journeys, and what the essential things we need in order to make them were. With the magnificent help of our young people, we decided that we needed five things - a destination, map, advice on how to use that map, a mode of transport and provisions to keep us going along the way. We then transformed our thinking into applying it to our Lenten journey, and hopefully helped both our youngsters and older ones as we grow ever closer to Easter.

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March already, and the Saturday Service this month was thinking about Lent - we were thinking about how we can get away from the distractions that fill our lives and find a little time to focus on what Lent means to us - whether we are giving up something, taking on something new, or simply looking to make some quiet space to have a better conversation with God. Lent is a reflective, thoughtful time of year, and it is easy to try and cram the impossible into those 40 days (plus Sundays!), but forget it for the rest of the year. How about we use this time to make new good habits that last beyond the 40 days?

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For our craft activity, we made clouds that we were 'blowing away' to remind us that whatever is happening, the Son is always there, even if we can't see him.


We also had a chance to try out our new heaters (particularly as the main heating was off!), and they definitely made a difference! Especially once everyone had left and we were clearing up, we switched them off and within minutes we could feel the chill come back. Money well spent if we can make the church a more welcoming place to spend time.

The Epiphany visit by the Saturday Service families to Amy Temple Cottages is a great way to start the 2019 New Year - the children made seven sets of Three Kings (that's 21 Kings in total, as we were reliably informed by Henry), one set as a gift for each of the ladies - and they looked magnificent!

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The seven sets of Kings and their bodyguards!

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That's six years of visits we've made now, four to the new cottages

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Always good to have a tall person with you!

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The motley crew, and Mae was Queen for the Day, after finding the little ceramic lamb in our Galette de Rois.