Reaching Out Across the Benefice...

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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 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.

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The Christingle & Nativity Service is always a highlight, and this year's was no exception! - the children were magnificent, with abundant angels and shepherds joining us on the day. It's so lovely that our local families are comfortable to simply turn up and join in - we always strive to be open and welcoming and a truly family friendly church community. We combine the Nativity with our Christingle service, to really focus the time on children. After the service, we went down to the village Christmas tree to dress it with red and gold ribbons - quite an established tradition now! Have a look at a selection of photos from the day below:-

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Christingle candles cast a beautiful glow around the church.

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Our amazing Nativity cast were a total delight, and we only had one small punch-up between the Kings (they were brothers, it's to be expected!)

Afterwards, we gathered at the village Christmas tree to adorn it with red and gold ribbons. We were without big tall Jimmy, but Henry manfully took on the challenge of getting them tied as high up the tree as possible!

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The weather was pretty atrocious - but despite that we were delighted to welcome so many families to St Margaret's for the Advent Craft Morning on Saturday 1st December. You truly are a hardy lot! The children enjoyed getting stuck in (literally - those glue dots are pretty sticky!) making paintings, collages, tree ornaments and decorations, whilst the grown-ups could enjoy a deserved hot cup of tea and mulled wine with mince pies. There was plenty of chatter and good cheer, and the observant spotted the (deliberate *cough* of course) typing mistake in a set of instructions! Got to keep you on your toes. Thanks to everyone who turned out in the wind and rain, your continued support is so precious and appreciated.

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To commemorate the Centenary of WW1 St Mary's West Langdon held a short service in the Church followed by planting poppy seed under the memorial tree in the Churchyard which had been planted in 2014.

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St Margaret's Saturday Service was full of lively participants today (November 3rd) -
our theme was Remembrance and the creation of peace after conflict, and our youngsters (and not so youngsters!) acted it out with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. "In Flanders Fields", the poem by John McCrae, was read and we created our own field of poppies for the display board - and a magnificent job they all did.

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Harvest Festival at St Margaret's was a joyful celebration - with a congregation of all ages and some lovely musical extras from our choir and talented youngsters, we welcomed the chance to come together and share our gifts for Dover Food Bank and the Chrlton Drop-In Centre. In addition, the week before St Maargaret's Primary School had been in to hold their own Harvest celebrations, and with their gifts, those in real need this Autumn can be provided for. The theme for both services was the importance of sharing our resources and it was a real example of people doing just that.

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A little bit out of our Benefice, but nonetheless a really worthwhile endeavour, The Beacon Church in Dover host three great ideas - Friendly Friday, Community Table and SNAP.


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St Peter's church at Westcliffe celebrated their Harvest Festival on Sunday 23rd September - despite the miserable weather, the church looked wonderful (as always) with really delightful harvest decorations.

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We can all be Superheroes! - our June Saturday Service was all about Pentecost and Beyond, and we talked about how the Holy Spirit gave the Disciples that extra strength and courage to go out and spread the Word of Jesus far and wide, to create the worldwide church we are all part of today. Of course, it also gave them the ability to speak many different languages, which they thought was cool! We decided that it turned them into Superheroes so we made our own, with capes of flame of the Holy Spirit, because we can all be Superheroes! [note - the first time I typed 'Superheroes' I actually typed Superhorses!]

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The children turned themselves into Superheores with a little help from the Holy Spirit!



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Our Saturday Services resumed this month (May) after our Easter Break - we were treated to glorious weather, and on a Bank Holiday weekend too! The theme this time was Ascension, with this year falls on Thursday 10th May. we talked about how Jesus had spent forty days after his resurrection appearing to many people, and that he had to return to his Father in Heaven, but would send something of himself in place of his own physical body to be with us all, wherever we are, for all time. He made his Disciples a promise and they had to be patient and wait for its arrival. We decided that being patient was a really hard thing to do, especially when you are not quite sure what it is you are waiting for!

Our craft carried on this theme, creating a picture with something that you then remove, but the same thing remains - Jesus is no longer physically with us, but the Holy Spirit remains. The children enjoyed the unrestricted nature of this craft - they could choose the colours, they could put as many lines on the picture as they wanted, and they were impressed by their endeavours!

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The dove was removed to leave behind - a dove!

We celebrated the birthday of the church at our Pentecost Family Service - always good to have cake!

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Oh my! We have been busy! - we've slept out in the Bay, had a busy Easter Craft Morning and enjoyed a joyful Palm Sunday around the Benefice, and now we look forward to Good Friday and the truth of Easter Sunday. Our Big Night Out was a truly rewarding (both monetarily and personally) experience and we are so delighted to be able to support the three chosen charities. Fortified with a fabulous breakfast, we held our Easter Craft Morning just a couple of hours after leaving the sleep-out - it was lovely to see so many families come and make Easter crafts, have time to chat and spend an easy morning while their little ones were occupied in their little achievements as they created their masterpieces!

Palm Sunday was celebrated at St Mary's West Langdon and at St Margaret's, and we both had livestock! Arthur and Smithy paraded into St Margaret's church (and left us a little present!) and a remarkably realistic donkey was installed at St Mary's.

The St Margaret's Palm Sunday Procession:

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Meanwhile, at St Mary's...

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On the 25th March 16 of us had a lovely Palm Sunday service at St Mary's, taken by Roger Broughton with familiar hymns played by Jannine Hyde and joined by an inanimate donkey which brought a smile to peoples faces and wide eyes to the two youngest members of the congregation.