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Update from the Vicar 

20th April 2023

Click here for the video update
I wanted to give you an update as I draw close to starting my Sabbatical on the 1 May. It thought it’d be helpful to explain it again and make sure you’re aware of what’s happening. I’ll be on sabbatical for 3 months and will come back to New Wine United B which will be a brilliant way to reconnect with many of you (why not consider coming with St Mary’s to New Wine United B at the Kent event centre from 1-5 August. I’ll be working the inside of the week after New Wine and then on annual leave. So my last Sunday is 30th April and then our next Sunday worship at church will be on 3rd September.
As I explained earlier in the year, I’ll have been ordained 14 years this year and I’ve been offered this opportunity for rest and prayer, for renewal and listening to God. I’d really welcome your prayer for this time, for me and my family and obviously for our church while we won’t be around and while we’ll be out of contact. I’ll be taking retreats and listening to God through study/retreat/recreation and having conversations with other leaders. I want to grow the depth of my relationship with God and to be refreshed for serving him. I’m passionate about abiding in God so that our mission flows out of deep encounter with him. So I’m hoping the Lord is going to be leading me deeper into an understanding of the love of Father God and that this is going to benefit us all at St Mary’s.
Practically, during this time the wardens Peter Ralph and Vanessa Cooper will be your go-to if you have any questions or concerns that you’d usually bring to me as Vicar and we’re thankful that we have so many capable leaders in our church, including ministry leaders and PCC. A huge thank you to everyone serving in the life of the church. We are also grateful to have some visiting clergy coming to help us with some of our services on Sundays in the next few months.
As you know we’re looking forward to welcoming a new Children and Families Leader in early September, and she’s called Jenny. We’re so thankful to God for her appointment, for God’s provision at a time when generally recruitment is proving tricky (I hear this from other churches and charities). Please be praying for her as she finishes off her degree, as she serves on Christian camps over the summer and prepares to join us.
Let’s also be showing our appreciation, particularly to our childrens group volunteers who are doing a fabulous job of serving. I’m thankful to Luke with Ruth for leading the Rockets mid-week small group, it’ll soon be up and running after the holiday break, bi-weekly again, and likely in a new location (a few practical things are getting sorted). Isn’t it wonderful that because we have so many people serving in childrens work we can run our groups on Sundays (except of course for the all age weeks on 1st and 5th Sunday and holiday weeks). There are only two weeks (25th June and 23rd July) over the coming months where we’re short for leaders to run the Sunday Rockets group, so although this isn’t a perfect situation it’s just a short season and I think it’s brilliant what’s been made possible. Well done, it is no mean feat while we are in a season of vacancy waiting for a Children and Families Leader and with the necessary rejigging to rotas over the coming few months. When we get back from Sabbatical Will can get back to serving in childrens work again as he has been more than once a month, and we’ll have a new staff member on board! Praise God for our 18+ volunteers on the current rota - we deeply appreciate you and your hard work. Well done good and faithful servants we are grateful for you!
With all-age services there’s something for people of different ages at different moments during the service. They’re great times for learning from one another across generations and listening to God together. As with any of our services we come to those to worship and to listen to God, and receive teaching from the Word of God in the Bible, sharing Words from the Spirit and we’re often responding creatively through drawing/craft, worship and dance, fun activities, with parents doing a fabulous job of helping to frame things with their children. I get so encouraged by the mid-week conversations that flow from what they’ve been discovering of God on a Sunday and I love to see the faith and gifts of all. We have enjoyed meeting in the round for all-age, so if you’d like to do that again can I remind you we need people to offer to come and move chairs please, we haven’t had any offers so far so do think again about whether you could help.
Our youth group has grown significantly as our older children have moved up. Please do be praying for them too. We really value our children and young people here at St Mary’s and although I said it at our recent APCM I wanted to take the opportunity to say it again now as I prepare to be away in the summer – thank you for making such a difference to the children and youth. It’s great to be in a church that involves them and invests in them and sees their faith and their gifts being used so creatively. I’m excited for the possibilities that are ahead of us, so let’s be building one another up with an attitude of gratitude. Perhaps God may be calling you to serve the children or the young people in some way?
Look after each other in the coming months I will miss you but it’s going to be good to have a focussed time of abiding in God, and you can be sure that I’ll be praying for you all.
God bless

Hello! and a warm welcome to St Mary's church.
If you are a new visitor, we have a page for you to get to know us and learn more about planning a visit.
Click here.

Planning your Visit

A Warm Hello 

We hope that you can visit and get to know us better, we would love to meet you!

Our Service

The main service begins at 10.30am with a warm welcome from one of our team members. Then follows a time of sung worship, led by our band. We typically have 2 or 3 songs lasting approximately 20 minutes. Sometimes a person might pray out loud or read a small passage from the Bible. Sometimes people share things that they believe God is saying to the whole church family. This might seem strange the first time you hear it but it’s all part of our connecting with God. We share news and notices, usually about what’s going on in the life of the church. One of our leaders will then give a sermon that is Bible-based and that we can apply to our everyday life. We then finish with a final worship song. Sometimes there is an opportunity to receive prayer at the end of the service. If you have any questions please ask!

Accessibility: There is wheelchair access, and a sound loop for anyone who needs it. Please let one of the Welcome Team know on your arrival and they will help you to get set up. There is a disabled toilet in the Church centre.

Newcomers Lunch

We invite everyone to be a guest at a Newcomers Welcome Lunch normally held once a term after the 10.30 Sunday service, usually in the Church Centre.

As well as an opportunity for us all to get to know one another better, you can hear more about the life and ministry of St Mary’s and how as a committed Christian you may be able to get involved.

We also have a Whole Church Sunday lunch together once a month in our Lower Hall.

Christmas inside church

What about my kids?

Children's groups run on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sundays of every month (except school holidays) and your kids are very welcome to join them.

Each group (excluding Crèche) includes, sung worship, Bible reading, prayer, listening to God, games, craft and food! 

All groups are led by wonderful volunteers from within the church family who have completed a DBS check and are safely recruited.

Creche (0 months to 2 years). Parent supervised.
Sparklers (2-4 years)
Flames (5-7 years)
Rockets (8-11 years Junior School)
Youth (Secondary School age) 

Children stay with their parent or grown-up at the start of the service as we worship (sing songs), together for the first part of the morning. At some point someone will announce that it’s time for the younger members to go to their various groups. You will need to go with your children to their groups at first and register them as part of our child safety policy.

For more information about what happens in the children's work please visit the Children's Ministry page. Children return to the service before the end. 

St Mary's has lots of children and families, we love having kids around and try to make them feel welcome and at home. 

Hope kids pic

Getting Connected

Small Groups

While Sundays are a great way to meet new people, it is often in smaller gatherings that you can really get to know someone. Being part of one of our small groups allows you to make new friends, share together and support each other. We have a variety of groups that meet throughout the week, some afternoons and some evenings. Check out Small Groups and see if there’s one that you could join, or we can put you in touch with a small group leader who will be more than happy to invite you along to their group.

Serving and Volunteering

If you want to get involved in the life of the church and help us make Sundays run smoothly, you can sign up to serve on a team. 

Get in touch with us to plan your visit
If you would like to come and visit the church beforehand you are more than welcome! Get in touch and we can arrange a time that suits you.
Email Address:
Comments / Questions or anything you would like to say?

Next, we will contact you by email to say hello and help arrange anything necessary for your visit.
Rev'd Becky Jones    
Vicar of St Mary's    
We hope that whoever you are, you will feel at home at our church.

Best Wishes