It was a delight to welcome The Venerable Darren Miller, Archdeacon of Ashford on the 29th January - Darren took our Candlemas service 10am at St Margaret's, which, being the 5th Sunday of the month, brought all four churches in the Benefice together under one roof. It was very rewarding to host such uplifting, engaging ministry from our senior team.
The Christmas Tree & Crib Festival was a joyful, uplifting four days - We were delighted to welcome Langdon School choir to sing for us on Friday morning, and particularly pleased to have a full congregation in the audience to hear them! They were wonderful, so full of life and smiles - and so was the church. Thank you to all the many visitors for our kind comments, and of course, to St Margaret's Brass & Flower Guild for their incredible hard work in staging this event. If you couldn't make it in person, here's a flavour of it below:
Delighted to welcome families back to Advent Crafts in St Margaret's church, after a two year absence due to you-know-what. To see the children so engrossed in making pictures, decorations and models, and to have those very special little "kneeling down" conversations as they cut and stick, was just wonderful! Also, a very big thank you to the marvellous Doreen, Rodney and Barbara for all their help on refreshments and tidying up duties - it would be so much harder work without you.
Wonderful to see so many of you at our Christingle & Nativity Service. What a great way to think of the bigger themes - Jesus the enduring Light of the World, and Jesus arriving into that world. It allowed us to think about the start and the eternal end of the story at the same time, that continuous connection of what was promised, what was and what is. Teriffic to welcome so many families (and new faces!) to be part of our Nativity play, which was fortifyingly beautiful and random - Judith, you were the best sheep!
What a delight and privilege to play host to the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, in our Benefice today - visiting all four churches and meeting key people at each, we had the chance to show her our wonderful historic buildings and talk about their history and the worship they have been home to. Seeing all four in succession really highlighted their individuality. Moving from the smaller to the larger buildings was really quite remarkable - the impact of the size and scale of St Margaret's after the smaller churches was astonishing. Try it, see if you experience the same 'wow' moment! Once we had visited all the churches, and Rose had prayed some very special prayers at each, we moved on to Boodles, on The Droveway, to meet some of our familes - and indulge in hot chocolate and cookies! Many thanks to Caroline for hosting our meet-up on her day off. With lovely conversation and and a chance to all pray together, it was a wonderful end to to our afternoon.
Continuity - that's one of the things we are striving for at our Saturday Service. This was the third month the children have added lines to our Lord's Prayer poster (which we will finish at the Advent Craft morning in December), and it's lovely to see them all ready to pick out the next words to stick on each month. They also added small poppies as we were talking about Remembrance and forgiveness. Remembering our Boots on the Ground from last year, we reused the poppies the families had made for those boots, and created a poppy heart to be placed in the church for Remembrance Sunday, hanging the wooden name tags on the columns - continuity.
Our churches were looking so pretty for their Harvest Festivals - what a lovely altar front at St Augustines! Perfect theme for celebrating the variety of wonderful things that grow in our fertile soil. Warm Autumnal colours at St Peter's, catching the low morning light. And the vibrancy of St Margaret's blooms - there's something about how the light comes through a church window. Those Normans knew what they were doing.
Welcome to little Miss Kingston, our first (and Kaz's first) baptism at St Margaret's since the start of you-know-what! What a delight to welcome new life again.
September saw a new start for The Saturday Service - after our Summer break we were delighted to see you all at our new venue of the Scout Hut. The little tweak to our routine, incorporating an informal theme setting and craft session followed by a short quiet time in the church, accompanied by food and drink, looks like it will serve us very well. We are very grateful to the Scout Group for allowing us the use of their Hut, it will make all the difference come the colder months, and the prospect of a little breakfast while we share fellowship is always a winner!
We started off the new sessions thinking about how we make friends - new classes, new teachers, new pupils, new schools. An essential part of this time of the year involves conversations to get to know people. So how do we get to know God? We have a special type of conversation - we pray. We talked about what we do to get ready to pray, and about how Jesus's friends wanted him to teach them how to pray like he did. We learnt that Jesus taught his friends a special prayer, that we call The Lord's Prayer, and everyone received a prayer card to decorate as part of the craft activity. We will be working our way through The Lord's Prayer over the next couple of sessions, learning the words and what they mean - it's actually much more complex than it first appears. Have a proper look at it and you'll see what we mean.
Our next session will be on 2nd October.
The Saturday Service for July made the most of our beautiful hcurchyard, as we thought about what an amazing imagination our God has to create the plants, creatures and indeed ourselves. We thought about how we could see one another's imagination in the things we create, be they pictures, words, or anything where we try and show what we are thinking about in something tangible. The children had fun collecting all sorts of leaves and flowers fron the churchyard to create their own nature pictures - it was fascinating to see how some were very orderly and others preferred a more random approach. We really do express ourselves and show our personalities in the things we create.
Delighted to be able to hold a Saturday Service (albeit outside) for the first time in a year on Saturday 27th March. It was wonderful to see our young people and grown-ups all together in the sunshine, and for Rev'd Kaz to begin to get to know them. It was a pretty informal session to ease us back into things, as we started to think about easter and Palm Sunday coming up the next day. Being outdoors, it wasn't a great idea to try any paper-based crafts, so we drew Easter pictures on plain white tiles instead - definitely wouldn't blow away! As things still remain restricted, we'll be putting an Easter activity pack in the porch ready for the Easter break, then look to meet up probably outdoors again for the May Saturday Service.
Take a look at the wonderful portraits our young people did of their families so that they could 'attend' the licensing service of Rev'd Kaz - they looked great all 'sitting' in the pews.
Amazing! We've actually managed to do something completely normal (bar facemasks), and it was wonderful. Our Saturday Service families decorated the village Christmas Tree at Post Office Corner with red and gold ribbons - and it looks magnificent! For once, the weather was kind, since last year it was blowing a wet and windy gale, not that that put anyone off. It was so nice to see the children, and how the little ones have grown! It really hits home how much we've missed this year, just how precious time is.
Remembrance will look a little different this year, so at the Saturday Service, we decided (actually before all this happened) to do something a little differently. We are delighted to unveil a project called Boots on the Ground, which is a public representation of Remembrance for St Margaret's that our young people have worked on, representing every man on the St Margaret's War Memorial. We wanted to bring our act of remembrance to as many people as possible, and the best way to do that was to go outside. The weather was kind (if rather windy) as our families, under the excellent supervision of Liz, Nick and Sian, set out our project by the West Door - please take a detour through the churchyard and explore the work. It's made for you to be able towalk through it, so feel free to take a closer look.
We know this coronavirus emergency going to be a really tough time for you all, so we thought we'd try and find a way to help. Whilst we continue to work out how we can get together in church again, we'll keep you supplied with activities in lieu of our usual Saturday Service.
There is a blue box in the church porch containing 10 ziplock packs. In each pack is a selection of things to do, make and read to keep you busy - I'm sure you're all very tired of Zoom calls by now, so hopefully these will be a good alternative.
So, what do you need to do?
* The Advent activity pack is ready for collection! We're making bird feeders to keep the wildlife in the churchyard well fed over the winter months.
It was wonderful to see so many of our families at the March Saturday Service - we really do appreciate your support and contribution to making them such enjoyable sessions. This month we looked at Lent and the theme the Church of England are highlighting htis year, which is 'Care for God's Earth'. We read a story, 'The Growing Machine', produced by The Waypoint Project in Maidstone to begin with, as we sat around our big candle. Many thanks to Jane Phillips for giving us a set of booklets so that every child could take one with them. We then dusted off our nurturing skills by planting some sunflower seeds in our Saturday Service Secret Garden! You'll have to come to a Saturday Service to find out where it is, but we promise we'll show you the fruits of our labours later in the year. Once back inside, it was time to brandish the glue sticks and create our display for the board, whilst getting some much needed refreshments in side us - we were joined by Margaret Scott as our catering assistant this month - Doreen, there may be a rival to your excellent tea-making skills!
We gave the families copies of the #LiveLent children's booklet, Care for God's Creation', for them to take home and see if they could do any of the challenges suggested over this Lent period, and finished off with two short prayers from the booklet.
Our next meeting will actually be the Mothering Sunday Craft Morning on Saturday 21st March, again from 11am.
The first day of February was sunny and bright, for our monthly Saturday Service - which was appropriate as we were thinking about Jesus being The Light of the World, as recognised by Simeon and Anna when he was presented at the temple for the first time. We listened to the story as we sat round our big candle (yay for cushions!) then we made lots of candles to go on our poster. Once we had made those, and fortified by some excellent biscuits, we turned our hand at making little candle holders that looked like a globe (imaging the cardboard candle holders we use at Christmas, but decorated). To finish with we sat round once again, candles lit and rounded off the morning with a prayer of promise that we would try and be like little candles and spread the light and love.
Our next Saturday service will be on 7th March.
It 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.
Making our gifts for the ladies
On the road with the gang
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our next Saturday Service will be 1st June.