NEW – Foundations for Growth Course
Foundations for Growth is a four-session course that helps people to look more deeply at the mission priorities that the parish is establishing. All home groups have been asked to run this course at some time before Advent. It is important that we all have a handle on what is being developed and our own part in it. If you are not a member of a small group but are a member of one of our churches in Ashford do please let Phil Sibbald or your local clergy know, and you will be welcome to either join an existing group or be a founder member of a new group.
NEW – Helen West
At the end of September, we said farewell to Helen West as a member of the Parish Admin Team. Helen has been an invaluable support for Kingsnorth and Shadoxhurst as local administrator for many years and more recently helped us make the transition to having an admin team for the whole parish. We’re very grateful for all that she has contributed in these roles, and will miss her detailed knowledge of people and places, her practical good sense, her cheerfulness, and her deep concern for others. Helen continues to be very much a part of the church in Kingsnorth and Shadoxhurst, and we hope that stepping back from her admin role brings space for new and life-giving things.
NEW – Revd Adam Childs
We’re delighted that the Revd Adam Childs will be joining us after Christmas as one of our Team Vicars. His licensing will be on Tuesday 11 January in the evening – you might want to make a note of that now!
NEW – St Mary’s Kennington
St Mary’s Kennington looked glorious for our Harvest Festival on Sunday much of which was led by the younger members of our church family. Thank you to everyone who helped decorate the church, took part in the service and brought harvest gifts.
NEW – Bishop Rose Blesses the new kitchen in St Francis Church Hall
On Monday 27th September St Francis Church hosted the Deanery service. The service marked the end of a day spent by Bishop by Bishop Rose, visiting schools, Brabourne Vineyard, the Willesborough Church coffee morning; these visits included meeting a wide cross-section of members of the local community, secondary and primary pupils and church members
After the service, the congregation were invited to a wonderful buffet in St Francis Church Hall; the food had been prepared and cooked in the new hall kitchen by one of the Make Lunch Chefs, Colin Salmon.
Before everyone began to tuck into the amazing array of food, Bishop Rose was invited by the Revd. Cathie Aldis-Saunders to pray a prayer of blessing for the new kitchen, and pray she did! The Bishop turned and faced the kitchen and it was well and truly blessed and eating commenced.
During the evening Rachael Harrington, Head Teacher of John Wesley CE and Methodist Primary School, spoke about the partnership between the school and the Boxes of Hope project that ran out of St Francis during Lockdown. She spoke passionately about the compassion and love of the volunteers and what it had meant to families. Livy Gibbs, the South East Leader for Transforming Lives for Good (Make Lunch), also spoke about the work of this national Christian charity and the long link with St Francis and its hugely successful Make Lunch project with volunteers from across the whole parish.
The evening ended with Councillor Liz Wright talking about the foundation of Holiday Hunger Ashford which encourages food sharing projects across the town. The church is represented on the Holiday Hunger Ashford steering committee by Revd. Cathie Aldis-Saunders; it ensures that the church’s voice is heard in this multi-agency group. Everyone present agreed that it had been a wonderful end to a very interesting day with Bishop Rose in our Deanery.
NEW – Kingsnorth Church
From October 3rd Kingsnorth is transitioning to two-morning services, one contemporary & one traditional, in an attempt to engage with local families. Please pray for this transition, new service timings and good communication. And pray that we are able to reach out, particularly to recent baptism families.
Pray for our LLT as we adjust to life following Caroline’s retirement and deal with the additional responsibilities that this brings.
Make Lunch will be back at St Francis Church Hall on 26th October 2021 from 11.30 am – 1.15 pm
For more information please click on the link below
Parish Leadership Team – Strategy & Mission Day
On 1st September, the Parish Leadership Team met in person for the first time since before the pandemic in the Charing Barn for the Strategy and Planning day for the next 5 years. It was a great day and the team and PCC will be in touch with you for your comments and your thoughts about the future
Changes at St Mary’s Ashford
On 8 August, the Archdeacon of Ashford issued a statement on behalf of the Diocesan HR support team about changes to Richard Bellamy’s pattern of work. Noting the major illness Richard suffered in December 2019, it commented that ‘Richard needs to have a different work pattern to give space for the fullest possible recovery. Following advice from health professionals, we have produced a plan where Richard will continue to work as Chaplain to Ashford School for the equivalent of three days a week and maintain a presence in the parish for up to one further day each week. We appreciate that Richard’s dedication means he would rather give more time to the parish, but this plan honours both the advice given and the structure of his post.’
These arrangements will be reviewed after Christmas.
Richard remains very much part of the church here and will normally be present at St Mary’s Ashford on Sunday mornings, but is not be able to oversee its day to day communication and decision making given his reduced hours. Bonnie Appleton and the Assistant Churchwardens, Janet Eaves and Lesley Wraxall, agreed to form an Interim Ministry Team (IMT) for St Mary’s, whose main responsibilities during this period are to:
1. ensure the effective running of day to day church life;
2. coordinate communication with different individuals and groups serving the church and be the initial point of contact for questions and requests;
3. promote the development of individuals and groups to support the church’s ministry during this time;
4. maintain the church’s place in the wider team, including its participation in Mission Action Planning.
Bonnie, who previously held Permission to Officiate, was licensed to the Parish on 11 August as an Associate Priest working on a self-supporting basis. This roots her on-going ministry in the Parish and means she becomes a member of the PCC and the Parish Leadership Team. The Archdeacon of Maidstone gave a brief but powerful sermon at the service, which you can read below.
I am very grateful to Richard for his continuing prayerful support for the church family here, and to Bonnie, Janet and Lesley for their willingness to take on additional responsibilities at this time. Please do hold them all in your prayers in the coming weeks and months.
Sermon for Bonnie’s licensing: Jesus wept over Jerusalem
I bet he weeps over the Church of England, too.
“If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this day, the things that belong to thy peace…”
Of course, we do know. We know what a flourishing and sustainable future would look like. It would look like our reading from 1 Corinthians 12. (Maybe without the gender-specific language of 1662!) Lots of different people. Lots of different gifts “… and administrations… and operations”
All working together in and with our different communities and schools to reflect the Kingdom of God.
But somehow, still, despite all we know… still, stuck firmly in our DNA as an institution, is the idea that ministry should be about one omnicompetent Vicar per church, doing – if not all the work, then definitely all the God-stuff.
And along with that daft idea, goes the dangerous idea that if that Vicar admits to weakness of any kind, well. It’s a sign of weakness. Because the vicar should be able to do everything…
Never mind that if one-vicar-one-church had worked, we wouldn’t be trying to spread our vicars so thinly now. Never mind that the same St Paul who wrote in our epistle this morning about a variety of people exercising a variety of gifts, also heard God say “My strength is made perfect in weakness” So that Paul himself could say of himself:
“When I am weak, then I am strong.”
I bet Jesus weeps over the Church of England…
But maybe not this morning. Because this morning isn’t about one-vicar-one-church. It’s about a flexible approach bringing different gifts to bear within the parish of Ashford. Of course this isn’t my patch so I don’t know you that well, but I do know Bonnie a little. And it seems to me that in getting her licenced as Associate Priest here you’re getting an absolute gift. And I do remember coming to a meeting of the Ashford Mission and Ministry committee a few years ago, back when I was Area Dean of Maidstone. It’s been fascinating since, to watch how Ashford Town has gone beyond the Group Ministry we had, to become a single parish team. All I would say is, in my experience, calling something a team doesn’t make it a team. It needs working at.
So work at it. The clergy and lay leaders across the parish need to actually be a team. More than that, you need to build teams – teams of lay and ordained people, in different places and for different purposes. So that all the different gifts “… and administrations… and operations…”
…work in harmony to serve your town, as we journey together towards a flourishing and sustainable future
Licensing of Sophie Carnaby
On the evening of Wednesday 1st September, people from across Ashford Town Parish gathered in person for a parish event for the first time since the start of the pandemic, for the licensing of our new Parish Mission Enabler, Sophie Carnaby, at the John Wallis Church of England Academy.
The service was led by the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover.
It was an amazing evening filled with the spirit.
Sophie, the prayers of the entire parish are with you in your journey with Ashford Town Parish.
First Interfaith Walk
The first Ashford Interfaith walk took place on the evening of Wednesday 18th August. Over 30 people of faith and of none, including Baptist, Church of England, Ethiopian Orthodox, Humanist, Methodist, Muslim and SIG Buddhist came together and strolled, chatted, laughed and learnt.
The walk was from St Mary’s Town Centre Church through Victoria Park to the Ashford Mosque, where everyone was treated to refreshments.
People generously donated to the Ashford food bank and thank you to everyone for supporting their important work.
A special thanks to the co-convenors of the Ashford Interfaith Group and to Sally-Ann from St Mary’s and Shafi from the Ashford Muslim Association.
The co-convenors currently meet on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6 pm to 7 pm. If you would like to join this meeting, please get in touch – email@example.com
Thank you to those who were unable to join us and sent messages of support and kept us in your thoughts.
New – Great Chart Window Damage
On Saturday 17th July, a member of St Mary’s went into the Church to water flowers etc. in preparation for Sunday Service. Upon entering she discovered broken glass and broken lamp shade fragments all over the floor in and around the ’children’s area’ and along through some pews and into the open seating area beyond. Whist she was there, other members of St Mary’s arrived, and all were subject to further stones entering the church. The police were called and responded quickly. They took statements from those present and descriptions of those seen inside the churchyard suspected of firing catapults into the church.
On Sunday, as a result of a conversation with two members of the congregation, we discovered an industrial type of ladder over the lower boundary fence of the churchyard. Apparently, they had seen several youths climbing over this ladder to gain access to the churchyard the previous Friday. As a consequence of the ladder being pulled over the fence, damage has been caused to a memorial bench dedicated to Owen Kinghorn, causing deep upset to his grieving parents and grandparents.
On Monday 19th in an afternoon meeting in St Mary’s church a stone was propelled through a window from the north side of the church (previous stones were from south/east facing windows). Several youths were seen outside but unfortunately, they were not able to be recognised. We later discovered a further three panes were damaged in the Tower window.
On Monday 2nd August Rev. Cathie Aldis-Saunders was contacted by a mother who had been verbally abused by some youths whilst visiting her son’s grave. The following day we found the north-facing medieval window had been damaged and it seems someone had maybe tried to climb onto the vestry roof.
So far, the costs of replacing the damaged windowpanes, repairing the damaged medieval window and putting up a new protective cover is £6,493 incl VAT.
This is what our architect has to say about the window:
“Dean Pelham was perhaps the most significant incumbent at Great Chart in the 19th century. However, he was also Dean of Norwich Cathedral and as such was essentially absent. I believe he is known to have visited only a handful of times. During his time as Dean at Norwich cathedral, he is credited with removing the glass from the cathedrals’ west window and installing the present stained glass. This in turn meant there were significant amounts of medieval and probably post-medieval early renaissance glass looking for a home. The central north aisle window at Great Chart possesses several elements from this west window at Norwich, including both medieval and post-medieval figurative and decorative glass of the highest quality and significance. These glass elements are of national significance not just for Great Chart but also for Norwich cathedral, and as such as a real artistic treasure. The significance of this glass cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, the damaged section of this window will need to be removed and repaired offsite.”
Sky Youth Alpha
SKY Youth Group – hosting Youth Alpha
• Coming soon – from 12 September 2021
• Join us for food, games and learning about Jesus
• Available for all young people in years 7-13 from across the churches
• Opportunity for baptism/confirmation this October
• Contact Anna on 07885 429272 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
We’d love to see you there!
We had a wonderful time this summer, with our new kitchen up and running and a team drawn from across the whole parish. Each session we served between 55-70 meals to children and their parents and carers. We sent families home with armfuls of fresh food all supplied by Fairshare.
During the last week, we had a Bird of Prey display in the church and on the final Friday we had cage football outside. Every Tuesday and Friday we provided craft activities, games and fun, followed by a freshly cooked meal by the kitchen team.
One mother commented that she had never seen such love, care and generosity shown. That kind of comment, plus children smiling from ear to ear and coming to say thank you, makes it all so worthwhile.
We will be running again during half term and in all future school holidays provided guidance from the government does not change. If you would like to be on the team either as a welcomer, supporting craft or games activities, or helping in the kitchen, do get in touch with Libby Varley.
Thank you SO much to our wonderful team, as one team member commented, ‘such a fantastic atmosphere there today at Makelunch, with some lovely families. We really enjoyed helping’!