Events Archive

EVENTS ARCHIVE

Here you will find write-ups of previous events, so have a browse through and see what's been happening in your benefice:-



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Singing puts a spring in your step!

Come and join our friendly St Margaret's Church Choir. Newcomers are always welcome.

Come for a few weeks, or come for a life time.

Come as a couple, or come on your own.

We meet at 7 pm on a Friday evening for an hour to practice for the church service, at 10 am, on Sunday morning.

More members mean we can sing more interesting pieces, with different musical lines. You do not need to be able to read music. Singing together is fun.

Singing regularly brings out the voice you never knew you had.

The breathing technique is good for you, and is recommended for certain health conditions.
Give it a try. You will feel fitter, healthier and more confident.

For any further information, and if you want to meet together first, telephone Margaret on 01304 853055.


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We had a fabulous Cribside Service at St margaret's on Christmas Eve - a packed church was full of warmth (emotional rather than physical!) and community as people from all the local villages joined together in what really feels like the true start to the Christmas celebrations.
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We Need You!
Volunteers needed with computer skills, and war history interest, to look into the individual stories of those buried in St Margaret of Antioch church yard, in the seven war graves. Open to all, or a team effort.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s “Living Memory Project” encourages us to discover the story of those who gave their lives during the wars, especially as 2016 was the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. One million British Empire, French, and Germans were wounded, captured or killed during this battle in the period between 1.7.16-18.11.16.

The project is divided into parts, Discover, Explore, Remember and Champion. There are many things to see and do. The starting point is looking at our seven graves, recording the military number, name, rank, military awards, regiment, date and age of death. Graves may feature a design which represents a national emblem or regimental badge, made more individual through a personal inscription. Most CWGC headstones include a religious icon like a Christian cross. Men who died locally were buried in St Margaret’s graveyard.

Useful Resources: Digital archives and detective work can lead to photographs, newspaper stories, even diaries and letters, building a powerful and moving remembrance of an individual. For others, however, there is very little known.
Look at:
www.cwgc.org
www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org
Contact with the Parish at outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk via this link.

We hope to publish your investigations:
- on this website (email outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk ),
- in the Parish News email stmparishmag@gmail.com)
- and the St Margaret’s History Society Archive/church section.

The names to search for are:
1. John MONKTON CASE
2. G. B. HOBBBS
3. John Edward KENWAY
4. Norman Leslie PETTIT
5. Henry R.MATCHAM
6. Arthur George Frederick LUFF
7. F GORDON
We Will Remember Them
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Carols & Craft was a delightful morning last Saturday (3rd December) - we welcomed a wonderful crowd of families into the church to take part in craft activites and share in good conversation and companionship. We then progressed to the centre of the village to dress the Christmas tree with our now traditional gold and red ribbons, and though a bit chilly, it certainly wasn't the trickiest of conditions we have tied ribbons on in! We were then back in the centre of the village later on in the day for the Big Switch-On of the Christmas lights - and what a terrific event the Village Shop and the Smugglers put on for everyone! Huge thank you's to Sakthi, Peter & Lindsey for their hard work.

Next Sunday (11th) we have Christingle and Nativity at the 10am Service at St Margaret's, with a quick rehearsal on Wednesday at 3.30pm.

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Wednesday 30th November saw a very thought provoking and engaging talk from the Kent Refugee Projects Officer, Domenica Pecoraro, at St Margaret's Church. Cold it may have been, but the warmth of the engagement (and the tea!) more than compensated. Domenica gave us an insight into her role with the Diocese and it's partners, in the support of refugees and asylum seekers in the South East. We talked about ways we could develop real, practical support to enable these courageous families and individuals to create new lives for themselves, and to engage their immediate community to break down barriers, create support networks and develop lasting friendships.

Click here to see the slide show explaining more about her work.

We are delighted to announce that the very wonderful Dorothy Willcox celebrated her 100th birthday last week! It is a gift to have such a sparky, vibrant lady as part of the congregation, and we wish her many more years to come. Photos of the celebrations courtesy of Liz (thank you!):

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What a delightful smile!

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The Christmas Tree & Crib Festival at St Margaret's Church over last weekend was a fantastic, cross-community event, featuring trees and displays from a great variety of organisations, all of which were magnificent.
A massive big thank you to all who supported the first St Margaret’s Christmas Tree and Crib Festival, to everyone who contributed trees and cribs, to those who worked so hard to make it happen and to everyone who came to see it. £747 was raised and will be divided between the Pilgrims Hospice and St Margaret’s Church, if you couldn’t be there you missed a great event but we’ll be doing another one in 2018 so put it in your diary.

Sandy Liggins – Secretary St Margaret’s Flower and Brass Guild



Photos are currently being collated and will be posted in the near future, but in the mean time, perhaps you would like to read this glowing testimony from Dave Brewster about his visit:

Hi Diane!
I just wanted to congratulate you and your team on a stunning Christmas Tree Festival which was a real joy to visit. Such variety and so many creative and innovative approaches ~ and so good to see groups spanning the age-ranges and facets of village life represented.
I have been visiting Christmas Tree festivals since I stumbled on my first in Fakenham what seems years ago and yours was as good as any I have seen in a Parish Church and better than most. I am sure that everyone will have had their favourite ~ many seemed to enjoy the taps & plugs, many will remember the fairy (bottle) on the top of a tree, the poppy tree was another that will stick in the memory and grandad's wood piles in St.Margarets will have been depleted with the DIY trees! Such inventiveness and enthusiasm clearly went into this event which clearly caught the imagination of almost all the village
Well done! ... one and all!!!
I hope that it got the number of visitors it deserved and that the pleasure it brought those who attended was reflected in their generosity

One of the highlights of my Christmas is always attending the Christmas Tree Festival held in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral which is always awesome ~ alas I won't get out of Kent this Christmas for the first time in some 25 years+ so will savour the memories and feel-good factor being at St.Margaret of Antioch brought all the more
THANK YOU!!!
I hope you have a good Advent and uplifting Christmas season
DAVE
I think all involved are quite entitled to rest on their laurels at a job well done - what a wonderful start to the Advent season!

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Benefice Quiet Day - Light & Dark 19th Oct 2016

Eight of us gathered at Temple Ewell Baptist church to take time out of everyday life and focus on our relationship with God. Jane Phillips led us and we had gentle worship, periods of reflection and then split up to spend time alone in silence. It can be quite hard with the mind wandering and sounds outside to distract. We had a bring and share lunch enhanced by Suki's spicy pumpkin soup which helped to warm us all up - sitting still can make you cold(!)



  1. spent some of the time with a book 'Sadhana - a way to God' by Anthony de Mello. I decided to focus on The Jesus Prayer (the ceaseless repetition of the name of Jesus) and my version was 'Jesus my rock, Jesus my strength, Jesus my vision, Jesus my delight'. I went out for a walk and repeated this while I was walking. The sky was blue and the leaves were golden and it was quiet and peaceful with God's beautiful nature all around.
    (Liz McNaughton)


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At our November Saturday Service we talked about the symbols of peace and hope, and in particular, Remembrance. We created a collage spelling out the word 'hope' with beautiful poppies, to rmeind us that this season of Remembrance not only looks back to the fallen, but also forward to supporting those that remain. We also got to use our brand new lower-height table, which meant the children could reach their creation that much more easily! A big hit all round.













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Dover Outreach Centre is now open and operating Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 11.00am.

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There was a terriffic turn-out for the St Margaret's Church Coffee Morning last Saturday (22nd October) - this year it was hosted by The Saturday Service Families, and what a great job they did. The hall looked lovely, and the tables were so pretty (we even ended up selling the table decorations!). Thanks to all the bakers for a wonderful spread of cakes and breads - Jane, your rhubarb and ginger cake was fantastic served warm with custard for Sunday pudding! - which looked so great all laid out, and sold very well. Drinks were served with a cheerful welcome, as always, from Doreen and Rodney, and there were a number of other stalls and games to entertain. If you want to have a go at the table quiz you can
click on the Questions here, and click on the Answers here. All this endeavour helped make a fantastic £413.21 for St Margaret's Church - thank you all.

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The Harvest Craft Morning yesterday (Saturday 1st October) saw a wonderful coming together of families, friends and visitors to the church - the children indulged in their love of glitter glue while the adults helped and spent time catching up with friends and meeting new ones. We were delighted to see so many people, especially as the weather was rather changeable, and it is always rewarding to provide a valuable space for people to meet away from the usual hubub and pace of daily life. Many thanks to Charlotte for her creativity in the collage corner for many years now, as she takes a step out of the limelight, and bravo to James for picking up the gauntlet this time to direct a marvellous harvest collage.







Our next time together will be at the November Saturday Service on the 5th November.








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It was another great turn-out at the St Margaret's Gardeners' Late Summer Show (Saturday 10th) - such terrific, colourful displays of fruit, vegetables, home produce, flowers and crafts submitted by all ages demonstrated the enthusiasm for such quintessential village activities. Such a lot of effort goes into the preparation of exhibits and the preparation of the hall to make it an efficient, professional production, we really must send enduring thanks to the SMADGA committee. After many years service, they are in need of 2 to 3 new committee members, so if you enjoyed the show, and the meetings SMADGA hold over the year, please think about giving a little of your time back to them for a stint on the committee.

I know every organisation is always crying out for more volunteers, and very often they are the same pool of dedicated people, but if you are looking for a way to contribute to village life please talk to someone and the will point you in the right direction. The same goes for the village Scouts, who are looking for a new Scout leader - comprehensive training is provided by the District, and the Scout Group will continue to thrive and provide the next step up from Beavers and Cubs.

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We had a wonderful Saturday Service on the 3rd September - it was lovely to see all the families there. The little ones getting not so little, some starting to crawl, some starting school! We talked about home, and the times when we might have to move home. Diane read the Exodus story and we talked about the refugee situation - some themes appear to be eternal. We finished with a craft activity placing houses, extended as arrows, onto a collage of the world, to show that home can be anywhere.

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Here are some lovely photos taken after Roger's last service at St Margaret's. We have all been privileged to have had Roger and Camilla in our village and church lives, which have been enriched by their ministry, support and friendship. Our loss is Leek's gain and we send them every good wish for their new life nearer their family.

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Presented with a selection of gifts to remember us by and show our gratitude for their involvement in St Margaret's.

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What on earth can one say about the horrors in Nice and the murder of a priest? How do we process the motivations where murder is seen as a positive action? We feel real pain and distress at the brutal, indiscriminate, pointless taking of precious life. What can we do? How do we respond?
Be the light, be the hope, be the love.

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What a difference a few days makes to the British weather! Yet the distinctly moist nature of last Sunday did nothing to dampen the atmosphere at the Big Parish Picnic. With over 60 people attending, and marvellous performances from Mrs Back-to-Front, our first foray into this type of event was well received and supported. Some terrific photos have been winging their way in over the last couple days, so take a little look, and remember, it's always weather for ice cream!

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The people start to gather, and make the most of a well-positioned gazebo in front of the Punch & Judy booth.




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Mrs Back-to-Front did an amazing job entertaining the picnickers despite the moist conditions!



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We remember the sacrifices made at the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago. Archbishop Justin was asked what the Thiepval Memorial signified to him - his answer "The total failure of government". Lesson learned?


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The Saturday Service families made a mid-year visit to the ladies at the Amy Temple Cottages for their June Saturday Service. We were thinking about celebrations, in particularly the Queen's 90th birthday, and so we made bunches of tissue paper flowers, all wrapped in white cut-outs of the children's hands, to mimic the white gloves the Queen always wears. People get sweaty hands when they are nervous before meeting the Queen, so to make it best for everyone she wears white cotton gloves, and her courtiers carry spare pairs!
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Wearing their crowns with pride!



Our next Saturday Service will be 2nd July 2016, then
we take a break for August.


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Stoic, that's what the British are - especially in the face of 40mph winds! That's what the Scout Committee had to contend with as they erected marquees, tents and cooking shelters ready for Bank Holiday Monday's St Margaret's Village Fête. There is a certain degree of cooperation and bonding that develops between a group of people using their entire body weights to tie down a marquee canvas! But carry on in the face of adversity they did, and very grateful are we to them, for without their determination to put on a village community event, despite obstacles, St Margaret's would not have had a Village Fête this year. It was terrific to see local groups and organisations set up their stalls, anchoring down gazebos with considerable amounts of rope (!) as they made sure they put on a good show. Which brings me to our Chocolate Tombola - what a fantastic amount of donations we had! A huge thank you to everyone who contributed, it especially confused my Postman who regularly came across random chocolate items in my porch! With the little bit off for the stall fee, we have made a fabulous £100 for St Margaret's Church. We were entertained by a terrific band, and a selection of The Players cast showcasing some songs from their forthcoming production of "Oh What a Lovely War". Which is another function of these events - to promote and support each other's organisations and interests, because when we work together, we all get that bit extra back.

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What a glorious day for the Spring Walk at West Langdon yesterday (Sunday 1st May) – perfect for blowing the cobwebs away on a sociable stroll through the Kent countryside. There was a terrific turn-out - a quick head count at tea time came to at least 90! Wagons rolled at just gone 3pm and we all set off through the lush green fields to the sound of skylarks. Even the wind didn't feel too cold anymore as it kept us fresh as we made our way through the rolling countryside. We all made our way back to the farmhouse from around 4pm - some via more creative interpretations of the map than others! - and we were amply rewarded for our efforts with a magnificent tea, where we made equally good efforts at eating our own weight in cake! Many, many thanks to everyone for the extremely hard work baking all the fabulous cakes, scones and biscuits, and to the army of washer uppers who cleared it all away at the end. It really was beautiful sitting in the garden in the warm sunshine, chatting and eating cake and tea - an English tradition well worth preserving!

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Up hill and down dale, spreading out across the
countryside


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Spring_Walk_2016_pic3Enjoying tea in the garden, and the sterling work
by the catering team!
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The Scouts are hosting the ' Fête for the Village' on Monday 30th May and this year St Margaret's Church are having a tombola stall – a Chocolate Tombola! So we would really appreciate any donations towards making this a great success. It could be a bar of chocolate, a chocolate cake mix, chocolate biscuits, anything along this theme – use your imagination! All donations can be put in the box by the bookcase at the back of the church, or drop them round to 11 Royston Gardens. The more we have, the more money we can raise. Thank you and we will look forward to seeing you all there.

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Photos are starting to come in from the Graffiti Survey last Saturday - thank you to everyone who has already sent them and we look forward to seeing the rest.


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We had almost 60 people at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting on Sunday 10th -
it was good to look back over the previous year, take stock of where we are today and share thoughts about the future. We then shared a fantastic Sunday roast cooked by Terry and the team which was such a good opportunity to sit and share conversation, maybe get to know someone you hadn't spoken very much to in the past - food is such a universal way to make connections with people and cement a sense of community. I urge everyone with an interest in St Margaret's church and the sister churches, to get yourselves registered on the Parish electoral rolls so that you can have your say and vote at the annual meeting. That Sunday lunch is really something to behold!


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Thank you to everyone who came to St Margaret's church this afternoon for the graffiti survey. This was our initial systematic survey of the columns and walls to give us a more accurate overview of the extent, variety and quality of medieval graffiti, and what a lot we found! Teams were assigned to specific sections of the church, to note down and photograph everything that we could identify as deliberate markings in the stone. The next step is to send in any photographs taken, remembering to identify which column or area of the church they were taken from, to outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk - either send the photos as attachments or perhaps you find it easier to put them onto onedrive and send the link with an email. We are happy to receive them however you wish, even if you want to print them and pop then in at the Vicarage. We will then collate all the information and let you know what the next stage will be to follow them up. In the coming week or so you will be able to find a new page on this website, which will have more details of this exciting project, along with photos and further details of how you can be involved.

Once again, thank you to everyone who gave their time this afternoon - projects like this one only happen because people are generous with their time and enthusiasm.Anchor

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The St Margaret's & District Gardeners' Association Spring Show was a riot of colour with a fantastic array of categories and entries. We are very lucky to have village events like this that bring people together from all over the community and from all generations - and we all like a little bit of competition every now and again!


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What a lovely Easter Sunday service at St Margaret's church this morning, made all the more special by the baptism of Emily Mabel. There is really nothing that quite matches the sound of a full congregation singing "Thine be the Glory" with the organ resonating throughout the building. We were so pleased to be able to give out the wooden Easter Eggs, especially as they were lovingly encased in beautiful bags made by Pat Hunt. If you didn't get to see one, here are some pictures:-

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Beautifully tactile wooden eggs, filled with the symbols of Holy Week,
that all fit together, ready for the next Easter







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Accessibility. It's a word we hear quite a lot, and usually applies to buildings and transport, but is also equally relevant to the Gospel message. Now, it doesn't mean simplification or dumbing down, it means telling the message in a way that engages the listener, in a way that can be heard and felt, which was amply demonstrated by our Palm Sunday procession. Taking part in the procession, and even watching it come into church, made the events of Palm Sunday that much more real and alive. We carried on this theme of engagement on Thursday afternoon, where we had a go at making our own Last Supper and sharing it in church. So, with the help of a trusty camping stove and some willing helpers (and eaters) we set about making and cooking some flatbreads and accompanying them with some grape juice, and a telling of the events of the Last Supper. Children love getting involved, and the chance to get their hands in mixing, shaping and rolling their bread was not an opportunity they were going to turn down!

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Cooking on gas!







Rolled to perfection






Getting good and messy, and armed with a rolling pin!


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Cooked, served and ready to eat!









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In these days where everything has to be interactive, we really got involved at St Margaret's Church for our Palm Sunday Service! We processed from the village car park into the church, waving our palm crosses and our palms made at the Craft Morning the previous day, accompanied by two delightful Shetland ponies (didn't you know, 2 x Shetland ponies = 1 x donkey!). Many thanks to Pat and Stephen Wood and helpers for allowing Arthur and Smithy to lead us in to church on this day of celebrations marking the start of Holy Week. And by "lead us in to church" that is exactly what they did - right up to the choir steps! What a fabulous way of engaging with the events in Jerusalem all those years ago. Just to let you know, the bucket on stand-by was not needed.


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Meeting Arthur and Smithy, and setting off on our Palm Sunday Procession















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Making our way towards the church, palms waved high!









Arthur and Smithy were impeccably behaved in the church
and it was lovely to welcome them right in to the church.











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What an exciting Friends AGM yesterday evening! Whilst there is no active committee at present, The Friends are still very much in place, and at a point where they can be taken forward with energy, enthusiasm and the potential to develop fresh ideas regarding communication and fundraising. So if you are looking for a new venture, or have just paddled around on the periphery for a while, now could be your chance to make a difference. Email The Friends if you want to find out more. After the housekeeping of the AGM was taken care of, we were treated to a further talk by Danny Budzak of the Kent Medieval Graffiti Survey about our astonishing church graffiti and how we can take forward a process of documentation and dissemination. We have an extremely culturally valuable medieval art gallery on the pillars and walls of St Margaret's, full of pictures, symbols and puzzles - have a look, you will be amazed. Other than a survey in the 1980's of the ship graffiti, which identified 48, no other survey has been undertaken - and that total seems frankly conservative when you really get looking, as we found 10 ships on one pillar alone last night. What is being planned is for a systematic survey to be carried out on the afternoon of Saturday 9th April from 2pm, whereby teams will be allocated areas to detail and document. If you would like to be part of this, I recommend you have a read of Norfolk Graffiti Survey Handbook, a very helpful booklet detailing the best ways to illuminate and record the etchings, as carried out by the originating survey in Norfolk. If you want to be involved please email outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk so we can get an idea of the numbers. We can then send you a copy of the record sheet we will be using so you can familiarise yourself with it. This is really an exciting project and could hopefully generate further support for The Friends, who make such a difference to our ability to maintain our Grade 1 listed church.
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Mothering Sunday can stir deep emotions - renewed love and gratitude for our mothers; regret for harsh words spoken, hugs withheld; upwellings of sadness at people no longer with us; a need to hear the voice of mothers separated by miles. Whatever our experiences of motherhood, given or received, we take this day to think and pray for everyone fulfilling a mothering role. Yesterday (Saturday 5th), we had a wonderful Mothering Sunday Craft Morning in St Margaret's church, with keen youngsters making cards, pictures and flowers to give to Mums and Grans. Helped by those very same Mums and Grans, it has to be said, so perhaps the surprise element is a little missing, but nevertheless, from experience I know every single one will be treasured!

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Pancakes have been flipped and we have now stepped into Lent - how is your resolve? Kept out of those biscuits? Read a passage of scripture a day? Reached out to someone lonely yet? Whatever your Lent challenge, perhaps you would like to add it to our Lent display in the Children's Corner at St Margaret's Church. Just write your thoughts and prayers on a little card, prompted by the themes on the envelopes on the display. Pop your card in the appropriate envelope and see if committing it to paper makes it easier or more difficult to keep. While we often try and keep Lent pledges to do with our bodily needs (keep off the biscuits!), let us not neglect our spiritual needs or diminish the importance of refreshing and renewing our spiritual health. Working on a crossword the other day, I came across an answer which really resonated - "keep body and soul together". During this Lent season let us not forget that we need to nourish both to be a complete person, to keep us together. Our soul needs a body, and our body is nothing if we have no soul.

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As we approach the season of Lent, we have a number of of things happening that involve all ages, and will hopefully help make it easier to think about message of Lent. We start off with our Saturday Service on the 6th February, when we will think about how we can prepare for Lent. Then we have the lovely celebration of Mothering Sunday, with our Mothering Sunday Craft Morning the day before on Saturday 5th March. Our Easter Craft Morning is on Saturday 19th March, where we will be making Easter crafts and doing some preparation for Palm Sunday and Holy Week. At Palm Sunday on 20th March we hope to have a procession of palms made the day before into the church. For Maunday Thursday, we are planning to have a little cooking session in the church for anyone who wishes to come along. We will be making simple flat breads and sharing them with some grape juice to have our own Last Supper, after which we will lay out out Last Supper table in the church. More details of these events and other services will follow shortly. We hope you can join us as we try to bring the Easter story alive.

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Sad scenes in Dover today, with far-right groups protesting against immigration being countered by anti-racism demonstrators. Our police force in the middle. Seeing the pictures, one thing stood out - why does it always seem to be men who shout the hate and women who call for tolerance? This is, of course, a generalisation, but one that has some validity. What are we teaching our young men, or perhaps not teaching them, that leads them down this path? What role models are we creating - many of these protesters must have been husbands, fathers, uncles. The middle ground is, by it's very definition, in the middle. Neither one extreme or another. The fringes, on the other hand, always push to their limits - the fringes of political parties, the margins of society, perhaps the geographical fringes as well. We couldn't sit more on the edge of the country if we tried - does that automatically mean we have to also be the most defensive and extreme about those the other side of the line? Coming from smack in the middle of the country, I had thought that moving to the edge would introduce a bit of continental living into the British mix. It actually showed a resolute desire to emphasise just how English we really were in contrast to our continental neighbours. Does reaching out to others make us any less ourselves? Does it somehow dilute who we are, where we come from or what our history is? Or does it make us compassionate, understanding, willing to see the need in others and active in putting the teachings of Jesus into practice? The Lampedusa and Lesbos islanders have been totally overwhelmed by the influx of refugees, completely outnumbered, but they remain undeniably Lampedusans and Lesbosians and examples of communities with very little themselves giving all they can to help the human tide arriving every day.

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In addition to the article below, we have set up a new page on the website - Crisis Response - which will give more details and practical information.

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Chilly, the last few nights, wasn't it. Lovely clear frosty morning on Saturday though. It felt like proper winter weather at last. It's always feels so good to wrap up and take a walk in the crisp freshness. Would I appreciate it the same way if I'd had to sleep outside all night in it? I remember how the cold crept into me by the early hours when we slept in the church for our Advent Sleep Out - one night, not overly cold outside, with a solid roof and walls to protect us. What if all we had were damp sleeping bags and a tarpaulin sheet, and nothing to stop the cold wind off the sea? Night after night. Not feeling safe, or well fed, or clean, or well. This is happening just a few miles over the channel, for thousands of people. They are there for many reasons, of which I'm not going to even try to go into here. What matters is that there are thousands of people in real, immediate need of humanitarian help. 'Migrant', 'refugee', 'asylum seeker' - vocabulary lumps people together and takes away their individual story, it makes it easy to dehumanise. People. Like you and me, like my parents, like my children. Displaced people in need of food, water clothing and shelter. In need of someone to show they care.

Overwhelming, isn't it, when you really start reading up on what is actually happening. If you are looking for a way to help, a good place to start would be by going to sidebysiderefugees.org or www.helprefugees.org.uk for a way to provide meaningful help through legitimate organisations in a measured and targeted manner. It is, of course, your choice. There are so many good causes that pull at our heart strings and our purse strings. We just want to signpost a possible way to help fill this particular
need. Jesus wanted us to love one another. He made no distinction who that "one another" were.


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It's back into the swing of things as we work our way into January - The Saturday Service made our Epiphany visit to the ladies of the Amy Temple Cottages, which was enhanced this year by meeting the ladies in the three new cottages and giving their houses their first blessing. What a wonderful little community we have in the heart of our village. Our Three Kings (interchangeable, so everyone got a turn!) were suitably regal, and we gave each lady a little nativity scene the children had made prior to setting off from church. We made our way back to church to enjoy welcome warm refreshments (at least it didn't rain on us this year!) and a catch up on what has been happening over the Christmas period.
Epiphany_2016
Getting ready!



Three Kings make their visits - jaunty angle of the crown there, Cameron!






Deserved refreshments back at church!







Our next Saturday Service will be on the 6th February.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year.  There are plenty of events coming up (see our What's On... page) to give you a reason to get out and about in the miserable weather.



A packed church at our Cribside Service, beautifully lit by candlelight.

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Our first Saturday Service of the New Year will be on Saturday 9th January 2016, at 10.30am




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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Did you see Hazel & Cyril's beautiful Winter Village?  The detail is fantastic - such a lot of
work goes into setting it all up to make a magical scene.


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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Just a few days to go until Christmas Day - are you ready?  What a question to ask!  You could say "it's getting a bit late if you're not!"  But are we ready?  The practical stuff will always get done in the end, someone will lend a hand or you'll decide it just wasn't actually needed after all.  But turning the focus back on what Christmas really means, and I'll confess, it's been hard this year not to feel that that focus has been, well, just a little bit out of focus.  So, are we ready?  Ready to think about the birth of a baby boy, who knew where he was going to end up right from the start.  To think about his mother, Mary, who must have been terrified to know that she had so little control over her son's destiny.  To think about Joseph, scared he would bring disgrace on young Mary, and she was probably no more than a teenager, and undoubtedly confused over what Mary was telling him.  And what about the situation of Jesus' birth, in a stable, amongst the smells and grime of animals (I'm sure it would not have been the sterile, cosy stable we would prefer to think about).  How many other girls and women are giving birth right now out in the open or in similar circumstances?  Girls in refugee camps, in the no-man's-land of border crossings, in Calais, in our own back alleys and abandoned bedsits. What does the birth of Jesus mean to you, in a time when it is difficult to find a Christmas card with even a hint of Christianity on it?   Find the hope in the message, use it to do something new, something different, something positive.  Bring the compassion to the surface and share it with all those that are in dire need of it.  The story doesn't end at the Three Wise Men.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We are delighted to let you know that our Advent Sleep Out has raised a magnificent £539.35, with the national campaign raising £58,000 for the Church Urban Fund to date - thank you to everyone who supported us.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On a cold, clear night, 12 members, young and not so young, of the St Margaret's Benefice arrived at the church at 8pm with sleeping bags, blankets and a considerable amount of layers of clothing, ready to see what the night would bring. We had decorated our church porch to be our Advent Stable, recognising that we were lucky to have such a place of sanctuary when so many do not. The evening unfolded in conversation, play and prayer, and a fortifying cup of tea, then we chose our places on the church floor, recognising that whilst a Norman church is draughty, outside would be worse. We settled down to our thoughts, intermittent sleep and inevitable discomforts, as we each tried to unravel what the night meant to us. One shared thought in the morning was how safe we felt under the high wooden roof, with the great pillars coming down between us, and what a place of sanctuary this church has been over the centuries. I had sense of looking up at great wooden ribs, like Jonah in the whale, wondering what God was trying to tell me about this experience, before I was delivered back on to the shore of normality.
Morning came, people stirred and the kettle boiled for a welcome warming drink - the cold creeps through, no matter how many layers you wear. Our wonderful WI ladies and guests arrived at 8am with bacon butties, which tasted divine - even though we were doing this voluntarily, people cared that we were looked after.

We gathered up our blankets, rolled the sleeping bags and made our way back to 'reality', but very much aware that we were profoundly grateful to be able to do so. We are so thankful to you all for your donations, they will make a difference to someone else's reality.
Bless you all.


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  Ready to go, and still warm!                                            A welcome cuppa in the morning...                               ...and breakfast courtesy of the WI

Our Advent Stable



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Just a few hours to go to our Advent Sleep Out - and a HUGE "Thank You" to everyone who is supporting our efforts.  Your donations and encouraging words really do inspire us.  Donations to the Church Urban Fund on our online Advent Sleep Out Event page have reached a massive £370 at last checking, which is a tremendous amount and really will make a difference.  We thank you all for your support.  Now, where were those thick socks...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What a remarkable couple of weeks of music we have had in St Margaret's - The Sandwich Concert Band played a lively Remembrance Concert in aid of The Friends of St Margaret of Antioch, with a range of military, film and traditional music, played to a packed village hall.  The following Sunday, at St Margaret's church, a full afternoon congregation was entertained by Ian Turner and Black Cat Jazz - a very accomplished quartet playing wonderful laid-back New Orleans jazz and well known standards.  Then yesterday (Sunday 29th November) we were present at the most beautiful Advent Carol Service.  Our choir was on top form and we were treated to the sublime voices of Caritas, providing plainchant and anthems throughout the service.  The children sang with wonderful clear voices, providing a lovely juxtaposition to the polished adult voices.  It created a serene, contemplative atmosphere in which to begin our thoughts about Advent.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Royal British Legion produced beautiful prayers for Remembrance Sunday at St Margaret's last Sunday, and I have made a link to them on our Reflection... page.  In the light of the atrocities committed in Paris last night, they seem all the more necessary.  

Paris, the City of Light, destination of honeymooners, art lovers, culture vultures, architecture connoisseurs.  Epitome of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.  It feels like a personal, incomprehensible, cowardly attack on everyone who loves that city.  Such soft targets.  We pray for them all.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Friends of St Margaret of Antioch invites you all 
to come along and enjoy the delights of Ian Turner and his Black Cat Jazz at St Margaret's Church on Sunday 22nd November at 3.00pm.  Whilst this is a free event, The Friends always appreciate any donation you may wish to make.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was delightful to see such a good turn out for the St Margaret's Church Coffee Morning to day - the village hall was really buzzing with conversation and laughter, friends catching up, families meeting, strangers sharing a coffee at a table.  A great spread of cakes was snapped up, the raffle had some lovely prizes, an eclectic mix of sale goods was well worth a browse, and Doreen and Ann kept the tea and coffee flowing.  It's always good when people come together - connections are made and reinforced, ideas are shared, plans are made.  Let's look for more ways we can bring people together.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Some lovely collaborative art was produced on Saturday at the Harvest Craft Morning at St Margaret's.  We were thinking of the harvest from both the land and sea, about Autumn scenes and saying "thank you" for what we have. The craft mornings are a lovely way for both the children and grown-ups to come together, chat, share stories, offer advice or just a listening ear, without it being completely "face-to-face" - the craft activities act as an intermediary and almost a facilitator to enable these connections to happen.  The more opportunities the church (and I'm talking 'church' in it's widest context) can provide for people to come together, the stronger communities we can build, the more we will look out for each other, the fewer will be left behind in society.  Let's see how many more opportunities we can provide.



Our orchard trees are
full of fruit!


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Lots of glistening fish were added to our Harvest from the Sea




Have a look at our farmland collage in the Childrens' Corner, displayed along with our leaf rubbings
and sparkling spiders webs!

Our next Saturday Service will be on the 7th November.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
St Mary's at West Langdon was the host of the August 4 Churches service - On August 30th 2015 the annual service for the Four Churches of the Benefice was held at West Langdon.  This was in the form of Songs of Praise on the theme of ‘Peace’, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the ending of World War Two.  Rosemary Plommer had created a fascinating display of memorabilia and photographs, including original local newspapers from her family collection and examples of the weekly food rations during the war.  Glorious hymns of prayer, thanksgiving, fellowship and praise were chosen by older members of the community who spoke movingly about their lives before, during and after the war.  Finally, Barbara Jordan read a poem she had written about her experience as a young girl in West Langdon whose father had gone to war, and come back. 

              The beautiful peace lillies on the font in St Mary's, West Langdon.

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 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We came back together on Saturday morning as we resumed our Saturday Services after the Summer break.  It was delightful to see everyone again (how the little ones grow!) and also to welcome Evie's brand new baby brother, Edward, who was born on the 19th August - yet another sweetheart for us to adore!  As we were about to embark on new school years, starting nursery, getting back into the usual routines, and of the immense events happening in Europe at the moment, we decided to think about our journeys.  Where are we going?  How will we get there? 


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To help us, we made simple origami boats - honestly, they were supposed to be simple! - 
and set them sail on an ocean background.


Our next Saturday Service will be our Harvest Craft Morning on the 3rd October, 10.00am to 12.00 noon.










* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The sun came out for our Teddy Bear Parachute Jump this morning (Sunday 14tth June), as over 50 cuddlies of various species were launched from the top of St Margaret's Church tower!   Whilst the winds were much lighter than the day before, and conditions seemed perfect, a rather random light breeze proved tricky at times, as brave jumpers had some unexpected landing places!  You can rest assured that everyone was returned to terra firma none the worse for their extended aerial adventures!  Our fantastic Check-In team prepared the jumpers for boarding, carefully labelling each one with their Pawsport number, and our Boarding Team securely attached the parachutes and loaded them into the highly technical lift mechanism (OK, a bucket on a rope) to take them to the top of the tower.  The Tower Team notified the Ground Crew of the number, names were announced and then the intrepid jumper was launched off the tower to cheers, applause, and possibly slightly anxious gasps, to float to the ground for our Recovery Team to collect, check over, remove the parachute and return them to their owner.  All jumpers received a certificate to mark the occasion, but should you have forgotten to collect yours in all the excitement, please let us know via outreach@stmargaretsbenefice.org.uk and we will make sure you receive yours.  Likewise, if you have any photographs of the event you would like to share, please send them to us at the same email address.  You can click on the link to our Gallery page below to see a selection of photos from the day:-

Gallery

We are delighted to announce that the event has raised a fantastic £100, which will be split between St Margaret's Nursery & After School Club and the Toddler Group - thank you all for your generosity.

Lets hope all children and teds have a restful nights sleep, full of exciting dreams and happy landings.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The weather cleared and we had breezy sunshine for the Spring Walk at West Langdon, hosted magnificently as always by Maydensole Farm.  With the clouds scudding across the sky and the skylarks rising up and down it was a lovely romp through the rolling countryside that blew away the cobwebs.  Arriving back at the farm we were treated to very welcome hot tea and a magnificent spread of home made cakes.  With some great jams and preserves to take home, it was another lovely Spring Walk, and I hope a profitable one for St Mary's, West Langdon.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday Services resumed normal service after our break for Easter, and we recapped over the events of Easter, the resurrection and new life, leading up to Ascension.  We were also treated to our first glimpse of a newborn baby girl.  No, not the Royal Princess, lovely though she is, but Fran & Richard's tiny bundle of snuggles, 2 week old Inês, sister to Nève and Gil (a real test of the ALT+ characters! - ALT+136 and ALT+138, if you're interested).  It is always wonderful to welcome new life, but especially so when it is a new addition to our church family.  Many congratulations - we hope the amount of sleep you get increases each day!







We created a picture with a bit of movement, to depict the Ascension.





Our next Saturday Service will be on the 6th June.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
What an exciting talk we were treated to by Danny Budzak of the Kent Medieval Graffiti Survey after the AGM of the Friends of St Margaret of Antioch last Thursday.  It was all about our amazing medieval graffiti that is carved into the pillars of the church.  I'm sure you would probably have seen a few scratches when sitting in the pews, you might have even worked out the odd ship or two, but I'm sure you didn't know there were at least 48 ships of various sizes and degrees of detail all over, as well as numerous other pictures and symbols.  In fact, we have a veritable medieval art gallery worthy of considerable study and record.  We are looking at how we can work with the KMGS to make a thorough lasting record of our treasures (because they surely are treasures) and incorporate them into the St Margaret's History Society archives.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
All are most welcome to come to St Margaret's on Sunday 10th May for the 10.00am service which will be a Celebration of Marriage, especially considering all the marriages that have taken place in the Benefice over the last five years.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A very Happy Easter to you all!
We began Easter Week with our Easter Craft Workshop - and we were pleased to welcome more families for this event.  It is particularly lovely to see the Dads there, to give them the opportunity to meet and chat, which women seem so proficient at, whatever the circumstances!  Palm Sunday followed, which coincided with the 4 Churches service, this month held at Westcliffe.  Palm Sunday begins Holy Week with such excitement and anticipation - the Jewish people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with all the excitement of a visiting celebrity; I'm sure there would have been many selfies if they were around then.  I wonder how many were welcoming Him for the right reasons, understanding the true significance of what was to come?  How many thought he would "deliver them from evil", or deliver them from the Roman occupiers?  It's easy to follow when things are going well, when the crowd is on your side, but people don't want to stand out and the survival instinct is to go with the flow.  Even loyal Peter denied knowing Jesus when it seemed that all had gone catastrophically wrong - their charismatic leader, whose promise of eternal life with the Father seemed achievable when he was around, was dead on the cross, the crowd were agitated against this small Jewish sect whose leader had worked miracles and talked in riddles.  Seemed safest to hide for the time being, blend into the background.  But the words Jesus spoke were powerful and resonating and would not be forgotten.  The women showed their instinctive nurturing nature and went to tend to His tomb after Jesus was buried.  He was not there - he had been punished by death on our behalf, so that God might forgive the failings of the weak people He had created.  His resurrection showed that redemption was possible, death was not the end if you followed the path Jesus had laid.

It seems that even today, it can be dangerous to declare your Christian faith, as the horror in Kenya demonstrates - but we are not just a small Jewish sect anymore.  We are a worldwide faith, encompassing people from all backgrounds and traditions.  Anyone can find their way to God through Jesus Christ if they choose to seek the path.  We can all make a difference by living our faith, being the example, passing on the Gospels.  The words were so powerful they were written down again and again, to pass on to the next generation.  We still sing familiar hymns that were written 300 years ago, it's not a stretch of the imagination to think of the teachings of Jesus being written down and repeated until they became integral to a Christian life.  Let us strive to repeat these teachings again and again, to really think about what they are saying to each and every one of us, so that more people can find what is missing from their lives.

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        The children made a wonderful Easter garden - and Henry had the honoured job of rolling back the stone on Easter morning.











* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was a shame the weather was so overcast for the solar eclipse this morning, it lessened the contrast.  I was going to watch the 'live feed' on the television, but changed my mind and went for a walk up to the monument instead - somethings have to be experienced first hand.  It's a very real reminder that we are on a planet, part of something so much bigger than we can imagine.  Even though it was cloudy, it was detectable.  It went darker, not just as though cloudier, but noticeably dimmer.  The birds quietened a little, and as I was walking up Salisbury Road towards the monument, a fox came out of a driveway and trotted along the road with me for a good 20 seconds or so.  Gradually, it brightened again and all was back to normal.  Even when down to just 15% illumination, there is enough daylight to continue as normal - it doesn't take a lot of light to make a difference.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
We are delighted to let you know that Maydensole Farm at West Langdon are hosting their Spring Walk this year on Sunday 3rd May, from 3pm with tea served from 4.30pm - and since this year it doesn't fall on George's birthday, I get cake two weekends running!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What a lovely Mothering Sunday weekend at St Margaret's Church! - Saturday saw our annual Craft Morning, with lots of lovely crafts that the little ones could make for their Mums, Grans, or whoever they wanted.  The theme was hearts and flowers, with a variety of different ways of creating both, along with our collaborative collage, which always provides the opportunity for some terrific conversations as the glue is being spread around.  We did find that attendance was down this year, on what has in the past been a very busy morning - are there too many other demands on families' time, probably that have involved a financial commitment, to make it easy for a free event to drop off the bottom of the list?  Are we keeping our communication with the community fresh and effective?  Is it all part of the natural cycle of events?  The answers are probably a mixture of everything, but it serves as a good reminder that we can't live on past successes alone, we have to maintain the energy and vibrancy of what we do to facilitate these opportunities for connection.


Mothering Sunday itself saw a lovely communion service at St Margaret's, with beautifully prepared posies of flowers handed out by the children.  It was also delightful to see the youngsters as part of the choir, singing their two feature songs - "This Little Light of Mine" and "You've Got A Friend in Me".  When children connect with music they sing from the heart, and their enjoyment of the performance was clear to see - and reflected in the smiles of the congregation.  Combined with the more reflective hymns in the service, it was a great example of how music can really invoke all types of emotion, and along with Emma's virtuoso playing, it is such a special gift to share.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Our March Saturday Service saw the welcome return of Diane from her antipodean travels, congratulated Fran on her imminent arrival and delighted in the news of Eleanor and Peter's beautiful new baby girl, Cassandra Mabel.  It was wonderful to see them and little Cameron at the Family Service the next day.  At the Saturday Service we talked about the transformation of the Lenten journey into Easter and beyond, and compared it to how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly - who knew they had 12 eyes!  Our art work theme was a butterfly and a cross, to show how Jesus can be the transformation for all of us.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Apologies - it seems as though the website updates have not quite reached the live pages recently.  We have been doing things in February, honestly!  We had a Saturday Service at the beginning of the month, where we looked at what we need to do to prepare for journeys, particularly the Journey of Lent.  


We decided we needed a map or guide, clothes and shoes appropriate for the weather and terrain, a first aid kit, food and drink, a teddy bear (essential!), maybe a passport, a phrase book and probably some money.  These practical items could also be symbolic or metaphorical items as well, for our Lent journey.  

What do we really need?  What if we took a Bible?  It would be our guide, provide solace and comfort as our first aid kit (and teddy bear!), help prepare us for stormy weather, be a common language anywhere in the world. 

Faith will always be the sturdy boots to enable us to walk our own journeys a little more sure-footed than without it.





Our next Saturday Service will be on the 7th March
and we have our Mothering Sunday Craft Morning on Saturday 14th March from 10.00am, and then 
our Easter Craft Workshop on Saturday 28th March, again from 10.00am

We really hope to see you there.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Epiphany is here - the Magi finally found what they were looking for, in humble and unexpected surroundings.  They followed the star and worked out their journey, looking for signs along the way that they were on the right track.  We can all have unique journeys to God;  the signs pointing the way are there if we choose to see them.



Our Saturday Service families made their rather shorter journey to visit the ladies of the Amy Temple Cottages 
to wish them a happy Epiphany, have Diane bless their houses with the chalk mark 20+C+M+B+15 and present 
them with little gifts of stars that we had made earlier at the church.  


They're a hardy bunch!  Or perhaps they are just too used to pushing prams and pushchairs
in all weathers!



* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What gorgeous Christmas Services we have had in the Benefice - St Margaret's church (and I am sure the others as well) looks absolutely beautiful decorated with the Christmas swags and candles.  They really bring a sense of warmth and togetherness to the atmosphere.  The Carol Service on Sunday evening was simply lovely, with a beautiful selection of music - we are all used to the standard selection of carols that tell the Christmas story, but it was lovely to hear those sung less often.  The builders of medieval churches certainly knew how to get the most out of acoustics.  It was particularly lovely to be able to sit and listen to the choir sing to us - and I may be biased, but to have three young members of our church community stand out at the front and sing to us Away in a Manger, was a Christmas gift in itself.

Our Cribside service on Christmas Eve was the wonderful community service it always is, and amazingly well supported.  It is not for others to suggest why so many people come to this one service each year - individuals will have their own, often very personal, reasons for wanting to feel closer to the true meaning of Christmas, and the Cribside service is an ideal opportunity.  Perhaps it is a sense of nostalgia or tradition, perhaps it's the 'safety in numbers'.  As a church we have to ensure that the same conditions prevail to enable anyone to want to step inside at any time.





Candles are magical, they make you slow down and concentrate on what you are doing, and perhaps why.


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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Something rather lovely happens when the children perform the Nativity tableau at the Christingle service.  It affects people's muscles.  Particularly the facial ones - everyone smiles!  You can't help it.  Something grabs your cheeks and the only expression you can show is a pleasure that bubbles up from within.  The children were wonderful - it's rather scary looking back at the congregation (it really is, you should try it sometime!) - but they all came down to the front with confidence, ably guided by our Stage Manager, George, to the wonderful narration by Rosie.  Last year's Jesus had graduated to a sheep (!) and we were delighted to have little Edie as our baby Jesus this year - she sat so beautifully in the crib, playing with her gold!  Huge thanks are due to the parents and helpers who made such lovely costumes, and to everyone who just turned up and took part - part of its charm is the fluid nature of the casting!  The children are so proud of their roles, and they sang 'Away in a Manger' beautifully.  

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What a delightful way to bring us back to the reason for the season.







We are decorating the Christmas tree in the church on Saturday 20th at 11.00am - the children are more than welcome to come along and add a bauble!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What a wonderful Carols & Craft we had yesterday!  With the first proper frosty morning to set the scene, and the temperature wasn't much higher in the church(!), but once we got stuck in to the activities, the tea and the mulled wine, we were soon warmed by the special atmosphere this event in particular always creates.  Then with arms full of creativity, we made our way down to the village Christmas tree at Post Office Corner.  We braved the cold wind and the children decorated the tree with red and gold ribbons, with a little help from the taller members of the group!

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A memorial tree was planted in the cemetery at St. Mary's, West Langdon on Sunday 16th  November, after the normal communion service, conducted by Roger Harley.  Many members of our small community took part, often with their own personal losses to remember.  Grandchildren of the village people through to the oldest parishioners helped to plant the tree.  Trees are such a good way of creating a lasting memorial to events and people gone before - they grow on, get strong and tall, and when their own time is over, their very wood can be used to create something else.

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A thoughtful crowd...

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Roger blesses the tree

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From the youngest...                        ...to the eldest, everyone contributed

StMW_Memorial_tree_5StMW_Memorial_tree_6Roger adds the finishing touches.
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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Time marches on - We were thinking about remembrance at the November Saturday service, considering the incredible impact the Bloodswept Lands and Seas of Red poppy display at the Tower of London has had.  Millions of us wear poppies every year, but perhaps it is because each ceramic poppy has been made to represent one particular person, especially if it has a personal connection, that it is so affecting.  There was a debate on the radio today considering whether to keep the poppies at the Tower, but poppies are delicate, transient flowers designed to spread their seed when they can grasp the opportunity, when the soil has been through turmoil.  Perhaps these ceramic poppies are indeed spreading their seeds of remembrance at this present time, and then they should themselves be dispersed as intended.  They are the act of remembrance, not there to be a yet another London tourist attraction.  





We had a go at creating our own fields of poppies, using our fingerprints - no two poppies are alike; our own individual tributes to the fallen.










* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harvest seemed to happen so early this year due to the good weather, we themed the Harvest Craft morning more an Autumn Craft Morning, with lots of Autumn themed crafts (thank goodness for the dry weather - we had lots of lovely leaves to use!).  The children really got involved in what they were making and left with armfuls of creations.  It's also a great time for the adults to socialise and perhaps indulge in a little art therapy!  

The following Sunday was our joyful Harvest Festival Service, and we were joined by three fantastically well-dressed scarecrows!

With stylish hats and a jumper donated by Granny(!) we were really impressed by the time and effort that went into creating them.
Anna Newton was tasked with the very difficult job of awarding a first prize, but, impressed with the level of detail he had put into it, Lewis was 
the deserved recipient of first prize.  Seeing him at school the following week, he was still really proud of winning ("Did you see my scarecrow?  I won!").




Our next Saturday Service falls on the 1st of the month, and we traditionally use this time in November to think about remembrance.  We would love to see you there on Saturday at 10.30am.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In the same week that the latest smartphone from Apple was released, St Margaret's Primary School took all of their Key Stage 2 children (Juniors, to everyone of a certain age) to Belgium for the day to visit sites in and around Ypres.  Instant, cutting edge communication technology juxtaposed by trying to convey the reality of events from 100 years ago.  We stood on the hills that were fiercely fought over, walked along disorientating trenches, read the names of thousands at the Menin gate and Tyne Cot, but the things that had the most impact on the children were at Sanctuary Wood Museum.  In a room with hundreds of other artefacts were around a dozen or so antique stereoscope viewers containing hundreds of photographs taken on the battle fields.  Pretty they were not, the brutal realities of war were not censored.  Yet the children were not squeamish or silly over what they were looking at.  With eyes right up against the optics, you were inside these pictures, nothing else intruded.  One hundred years distance became nothing as real communication between the viewers and the men they were looking at happened in the time it took to turn the wheel to the next picture.  Now that's powerful, cutting edge technology.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Harvest Craft Service has now been going in its present form for 5 years and continues to go from strength to strength.  You can use it as a time to share your ideas for your entry in the Scarecrow Competition - your scarecrow can be any style, any size, just remember that you have to carry it and it must be suitable to be displayed in a church please!  Please bring them to the Harvest Festival Service for 9.30am on the Sunday, the service starts at 10.00am and we need to make sure everyone gets a seat!

The All Souls' Service is a quiet time to remember and reflect on the loved ones we have lost.  Our 4 Churches Service for November will be Songs of Praise for which we would really like you to choose which hymns are sung.  You can do this by filling in a voting form (found at any of the churches and in the Parish News) and popping it in a ballot box at each church, the Parish News box in the Village Shop and at East Langdon Village Hall - yes, we've got that enfranchisement voting fever!  We would really like you to write a few words on the form about why your choice means so much to you to help enrich our service.  We will keep you up to date about which hymns are proving the most popular on this website!

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A new school term marks the restarting of our Saturday services after the Summer break, and we began again with a busy weekend!  We were delighted to see our regular families and welcome new ones.  It's had to believe that our original Saturday Service babies have now started school, and our oldest has started secondary school!  Let's encourage this continual tide of renewal and growth and hope to maintain the engagement of our older youngsters (if that's not an oxymoron!), which is perhaps one of the bigger challenges we face as a church. 



At the Saturday Service we talked about prayer - what makes a prayer?  What do we need to pray? - and about the most famous prayer or all, The Lord's Prayer.  
For our craft activity we made prayer cubes for the children to take away with them which had simple 'Please', 'Thank you' and 'Sorry' sides to help them build up a simple prayer by rolling it and adding a sentence according to the face that is shown.  We also took the Lord's Prayer line by line and put it back in the right order on our collage - physically splitting it up makes you look afresh at what each line is saying; try it, it can be quite revealing.





Our next Saturday Service will actually be the Harvest Craft Morning on Saturday 4th October 10.00am to 12noon.
Come along and have a lovely sociable morning while wielding a glue stick!


St Mary's at West Langdon are remembering those who died in the 1941-1918 war with a display in church:-





Sunday 31st August will be the 4 Churches service at St Mary's West Langdon, so you will get a chance to see the memorial.







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St Margaret's took a little time to stop, pause and reflect today (4th August) as we joined in with national and international commemorations to mark the day Great Britain declared war on Germany and so began World War I.  Britain felt compelled to come to the aid of Belgium after Germany invaded in contravention of a treaty signed 70 years previously ensuring its neutrality, and also to protect its European trading ports and a whole host of other finely detailed, strategic, moral and infinitely convoluted reasons.  Whatever the finer points of debate, what ensued was the most devastating, socially changing loss of a generation of young men on all sides, that resonated throughout the rest of the 20th century and beyond.  Knowing that there are no more living veterans seems to make it all the more important that this conflict is remembered, the stories passed on to the next generation, family histories traced to give real connections to what happened.  It somehow gets more poignant as every year passes.  

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Our Family Service on Sunday 13th July was a joyful occasion where we celebrated all the Baptisms Diane has conducted in her time at St Margaret's.  To see the church filled with so many families and young people was heartwarming and really rather exciting, that so many of our young people are so at home in God's house, which even for many adults can be rather intimidating.  Children are very straight forward - if they feel welcomed and enjoy what happens in a place they will return.  With worship songs that the children recognised from school and a bit of audience participation, it felt like a true celebration of what it means to be baptised into the family of God.  

We displayed our Baptism Tree for the first time as well - a tree framework on which we will hang wooden oak leaves inscribed with the names of all our baptism candidates over the last 4 years or so - and the children came and collected their leaves and hung them on the tree.  It felt very symbolic of new growth, community and of the children taking ownership of decisions made by parents when they were mostly just babies. 


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 Here's to many more leaves growing on our tree!


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Our last Saturday Service before we take our August break was all about what makes a good person and how we all part of the same family of God.  We celebrated that our once 'Saturday Service babies' are now starting school in September and our oldest is off to Secondary School.  Time keeps on ticking and we all move ever forward, with others taking those vacated places - which is vital to keep ideas alive and refreshed.  We are blessed that we have this closeness in our Saturday Service families that connects us beyond the bounds of relatives/playgroup/school, but by something shared between us all, adding that richness and support to our lives.




For our craft activity I was looking at the theme of connections and support, and thought about those paper chains of people that you can make (though how often does the cut come in the wrong place and you end up with lots of individual people?!).  They seemed somehow a little isolated, like separate little factions all standing in rows.  So I had a little 'Google' (I believe this is now a verb) and came across a way of making circles of people - it seemed to represent the connection we wanted to show, the support of being together, and in the lovely way that they all come out slightly different like snowflakes, it shows that we are all individuals whilst being a part of something bigger.  We hope you like them!






Our next Saturday Service will be in September on Saturday 6th September, with our Saturday Service Party on Sunday 7th 2pm to 4pm.
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Have you been watching the World Cup?  Apart from the terrific football and atmosphere in Brazil, there is one thing that has really stood out for me - the confidence the players, particularly the South Americans, have in displaying their faith.  They openly pray before kick-off, immediately give thanks after scoring or winning, and join together in fervent appeals to a higher power before a team mate takes a penalty, in front of an audience of millions. Yes, there are cultural differences that have an influence in these expressions of faith, but it is refreshing and heartening in our current climate of fear of extremism, that being open about one's faith isn't seen as fundamentalism, but can be as normal as taking a breath.

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Apologies for the lack of updates recently - other projects have rather eaten away all my spare time, like the Very Hungry Caterpillar munching away every hour put in front of it, but at least we had the wonderful butterfly of the final outcome to justify the hard work.  So, what has been happening?  The Scout & Guide Fete was a great success, despite a thunderstorm during set-up and a couple of sharp showers during the afternoon.  Our June Saturday Service looked at the coming of the Holy Spirit and how we can spread the Word of Jesus Christ, just like his Disciples, now Apostles, were felt compelled to do.  




We produced a poster for the board to show the two symbols of the Holy Spirit - flame and a dove - in a way that we can see both at the same time.  
We can be the dove but we need to have the passion of the flame to give life and meaning to what we do.










Did you manage to see Journey's End at St Margaret's Village Hall last week?  It was a really thoughtful, moving and at times despairingly funny play set in the Officers' dug out of a World War I trench in France.  Just a small cast managed to portray the range of class, backgrounds and ages of the men who fought, sometimes tragically briefly, in a horrifying conflict.  Written only ten years after the end of the war by Robert Sherriff, who was himself terribly injured during the battle for Passchendaele, it's original audience would not have had the luxury of distance and perspective to consider the themes of extreme fear, questioning of authority, the nature of heroism and the tension of waiting in the same way that we can.  St Margaret's Players really do tackle a terrific variety of material and always with great aplomb.

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Westcliffe recently received a beautiful new altar cloth, courtesy of a generous donation.  Have a look at the pictures below:-


Churchwarden Brenda Lester holding the new cloth.


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Lovely detail on the new cloth.











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Saturday 3rd May saw the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the ordained ministry of women in the Church of England.  Of course, we all know that women have been playing a vital part in church ministry for years, but the acknowledgement of official status is such a huge step in recognising that rules and regulations cannot dictate whom God calls to serve Him.  It also meant that our Saturday Service was a little more ad hoc than usual (coming out from behind the glue sticks to lead can be a little terrifying!), as we considered life after the excitement of Easter, Diane being lucky enough to have got a ticket to the St Paul's celebrations.  How did the disciples feel after Jesus was crucified?  Were they scared?  They were after all a rebel Jewish group in an occupied land.  Did they feel let down?  What do they do now?  Do they go back to their old lives, families, jobs?  What a test of faith, to trust in the scriptures, to dig deep into the teachings of Jesus to work out what it had all been for.  So we thought about hope and how it pulls us through dark times, gives you that feeling of solidity deep down when everything else is unsettled.  We symbolised this with our collage of a sunrise - even the darkest night ends in a sunrise.

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The rain held off until we were safely undercover on Sunday 27th April, at the Annual Spring Walk from Maydensole Farm at West Langdon.  The crowds had gathered at 3.00pm, sturdy boots a the ready, dogs tugging at leads eager to get going, to see which route we would be taking this year through the Spring crops around West Langdon. 

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Waiting for the walkers...             A delicious spread!                        Mustering the troops!                       Up hill and down dale in the luscious countryside

It was perfect walking weather actually, not too warm, a light breeze to keep you refreshed.  After enjoying the rolling countryside, sociable chat with fellow walkers and a bit of welcome exercise after quite a lot of birthday cake (for some of us!), we returned to the farm for a reviving cup of tea and the much anticipated spread of delicious cakes, biscuits and scones (the cheese scones were my particular favourite).  With everyone sat down, the heavens opened and treated us to a traditional April downpour (my poor washing!), but at least it helps clear the heavy pollen load from the air.  This lovely event has become such a fixture in the calendar, it is easy to forget that it is the major fund raising event of the year for West Langdon church, and everything donated to keep worship continuing in our outlying villages has to be a good thing.  We have received a lovely write-up from West Langdon:-


"This year's Spring Walk in the countryside around St. Mary's, West Langdon took place on the 27 April; the church was open and still decorated with the Easter flowers. About a hundred people walked through the gloriously green and yellow fields with cow parsley billowing along the tracks in this truly rural part of the benefice.  This year the country tea was served in the barn, along with the usual challenging country quiz, and the children had a great time.  Many thanks to all our supporters.

Regards and best wishes,
Pamela."

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Easter Children's Workshop

What an amazing and wonderful morning we have had at St Margaret's - we held our Easter Children's Workshop today (Tuesday 15th April) instead of on Good Friday to accommodate a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby!  He is spending Holy Week in the Dover Deanery, visiting many events particularly focused on mission and outreach, and we were lucky enough to be on the itinerary.


The day started early, as it always does at our seasonal craft events, with time taken to set out and prepare all the activities, put the urn on, wrap the bunting round the railings and get a few butterflies as we wait in the calm quiet of a beautiful church to see how many people will turn up (good weather can be such a double edged sword!).  With Alegri's Miserere (Google it if you haven't heard it before) playing in the background, it was a moment of otherworldly calm.  We needn't have worried - we had a fantastic turn out of young and old, families and friends, visitors and the curious popping in to see what we were up to. 


With the children immediately getting stuck in (quite literally in many cases), as they are so familiar now with our craft events, it was full steam ahead into a wonderfully sociable relaxed morning.  Even when the BBC film crew (yes, really!) arrived everyone just took it in their stride as though this sort of thing happens all the time!  The Archbishop and his lovely wife, Caroline, just slipped in quietly with little pomp and ceremony and managed to chat to virtually everyone in the church, including all the children, taking a real interest in what they were doing and why we were doing it.  So, why were we holding a hands-on craft event in the church?  Well, first and foremost because it's a fun sociable thing to do;  between us we have the skill set to put on an interesting and enjoyable event;  it's a way of celebrating Easter that's accessible to all;  we think everyone should have the chance to feel completely at home in a Christian place of worship;  everyone likes to have a go at making something, to feel proud of their efforts;  it brings people together to meet, chat, laugh and develop deeper relationships and connections in a way we can't always do in everyday life.
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Halfway through the morning Diane gathered the children together at the front of the church and we held an informal short act of worship, along the lines of our Saturday Services, to talk about Holy Week and the meaning of Easter, with Archbishop Justin addressing us all - what fascinating and inciteful comments the children make! 


"The egg represents the stone that covered up the tomb."  "On Good Friday Jesus died on the cross to save the people who had sinned."  "On Easter Sunday Jesus rose from the cross."
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They really do pay attention and are certainly not backwards about coming forwards with their ideas and understanding of what is being talked about! 

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 Justin expertly wielded the knife to cut a beautifully decorated cake made by Teresa for us all to share, then after a short prayer, it was back to the glue sticks!  With the tea and biscuits flowing (do biscuits flow?  Maybe roll?) we finished the morning with a lot of fun and laughter.  With the last person out the door, it was all hands on deck to return the church to it's usual calm, serene state, with the sun pouring through the stained glass and the only sound being the birds chirping outside.


For more pictures of our fabulous day, please click on the Gallery tab in the main menu on the left - if anyone else has any photos of this, or any other event, or just some pictures that really represent our benefice that they would like to share, please send them to pccwebmoderator@btinternet.com and I will get them posted.

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April's Saturday Service was all about Lent.  I can't believe we're into April already; March has, well, marched past!  We talked about what Lent means, the different events that we mark along the way, and the joy of Easter at the end - and then we do it all again the next year, and the next.  Why do we repeat the rituals of Lent?  To remember the events leading up to Easter; for the experience of retelling the story; to pass on the message of Easter;  to remind ourselves that God had a plan for Jesus, and has a plan for us - we just have to try and figure out what it is, and by working through the rituals of Lent each year, perhaps we can come a little closer.

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We made a wheel showing the different events of Lent, from Shrove Tuesday to the empty tomb - the tricky part was
making sure they were round the circle in the right order!



Our next event is the Easter Children's  Workshop on Tuesday 15th April, in the church from 10.00am






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So Mothering Sunday has come and gone, and I hope all you ladies had the day you wished for - busy or quiet.  I have to thank my two urchins for giving me a peaceful afternoon of pottering and sorting things out, while they gave their skateboards a Spring blast - sometimes you just need a little quiet time to let the thoughts in your head have some space, instead of them fighting to be heard amongst the daily noise that so easily fills the time.  The youngsters were busy before hand on Saturday, at the Mothering Sunday Craft Morning - lots of lovely things to make for that someone special in their lives.  There's nothing quite so lovely as a homemade card or picture, which will probably be kept for many years to come.  We thought we'd introduce a little more paint craft this year, and since it managed to remain on the paper and tables, I think it was a risk worth taking!  They do so love stamping shapes and hand prints (hooray for baby wipes for that instant clean up!) and you can make some very effective pictures.  You wouldn't believe how many uses a cardboard tube can have!


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Come and see our bright Spring collage - 
craft is not just for the children!




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The Mothering Sunday posies are
skilfully put together












Making heart prints and having fun with the paint



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 I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has left donations of craft supplies in the Children's Corner over the past few weeks.  It really has made a difference to what we can put on for the children, so thank you again for your generosity - you are all wonderful!






Our next Saturday Service will be on Saturday 5th April at 10.30am (I know, April already!), and then we have our Easter Craft Workshop on Tuesday 15th April at 10.00am, where we are delighted to have the Archbishop of Canterbury as our special guest!

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Margaret's Church would like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came to our Tea Party of Promises on Sunday 16th March.

We were delighted that it proved to be the sociable community event that we had hoped for, to reach out and bring people together, who perhaps wouldn't normally cross paths, and to raise some much needed funds for the daily running of St Margaret's Church – we are the custodians of our village church, responsible for maintaining the perpetuity of the building as a place of worship, for our village community and beyond, and financial pressures are ever present.

We have to extend our gratitude to the wonderfully imaginative and generous people who donated some amazing promises (a day out in London! Masterchef experience at Walletts Court! Sailing trip!) that were auctioned off during the afternoon – you enabled us to raise just over £2,100, which is a terrific total and exceeded our expectations. Our auction wouldn't have been the same without our auctioneer, Mr John Orchard, who got the lots moving with a touch of showmanship and panache – an alternative career may be beckoning!

We were entertained throughout the afternoon by our church choir bolstered by friends and guests from the Landmark choir, led with much aplomb by Emma Ainsley, our church Musical Director. Our stomachs were entertained with tea and delicious cakes (thank you to everyone who spent time baking for us) and the youngsters present got completely engrossed in a variety of craft activities in the Channel Room.
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John strutting his stuff during the auction!

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Everyone needs cuppa!




Delicious goodies for a teatime treat!          


                                         The children enjoying themselves in the Channel Room

    So, thank you again to everyone involved in making this such a successful afternoon – let's hope the community connections go on with the taking up of the promises.





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Lent is nearly upon us - Shrove Tuesday is on the 4th March, Ash Wednesday is on the 5th; how soon the year is passing.  My daughter is still waiting for snow, though I don't think we will be needing our sledges this year.  We took 'Lent' as our theme for the Saturday Service, thinking about its origins and what we use the time for - thinking, praying, fasting, reflecting, thanking, waiting, serving and preparing.  The 40 days of Lent come from the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for His ministry.  It was interesting to look at the number of times the number 40 occurs in the Bible - it rained for 40 days and nights; Noah waited for 40 days before he opened the window of the Ark; Goliath went before the Israelite army 40 times before he fought with David;  the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness;  Jesus appeared before His disciples over a period of 40 days after His resurrection.  They always appear to be a time of trial and testing, followed by something good.  And we shouldn't forget that pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks, followed most definitely by something good.  

We wanted to produce an interactive piece of artwork to last for Lent that would be a joyful burst of colour by Easter.  We are putting little tissue paper flowers onto a cross shape, one for every time you want to recognise something you are thankful for - it could be an act of thankfulness, generosity or a kindness, something you have done yourself or witnessed in someone else.  The cross shape is covered in double sided sellotape to make it easy to stick your flowers, and there is a little bag of tissue paper squares at the edge of the board to make the flowers from.

March_2014_pic1Putting the final touches to our artwork.     








You will find our artwork in the children's corner - please add your own flowers so we have a burst of colour
by Easter!




Our next Saturday Service will be on Saturday 5th April.





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Salt & Light was the theme for today's Family Service at St Margaret's.  "You are the salt of the earth"; "You are the light of the world".  Two phrases from Matthew's Gospel that seem like unrelated statements.  So we endeavored to show that they are connected - the challenge for us is to be the salt that makes the difference so that we can then be the light that shows the way.






We turned a picture of a salt cellar into a lighthouse, to show how Salt & Light
are connected to each other.  Many thanks to my tremendous twosome for 
their assistance!






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The Guides of St Margaret's had a new flag dedicated to them towards the end of last year.  This replaces their old flag, which was deteriorating and in a rather fragile condition.

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The Guides display their new flag.







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The weather was kind to us on Sunday 5th when the Saturday Service paid a visit to the Amy Temple Cottages to celebrate Epiphany and bless the houses.  We delivered small gifts of nativity figures we had made earlier in the afternoon to the lovely ladies.  The houses were blessed by Diane and marked in chalk with 20+C+M+B+14, to signify the new year and 'Christ has blessed this house' / 'Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar' (historically taken as the names of the three wise men.



 Epiphany_2014_pic_2Our gifts for the ladies.

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On the way back to the Channel Room, renditions of We Three Kings wonderfully sang, gifts delivered, all ready
for a scrummy tea - the sandwiches were yummy as always, Fran!



Our next Saturday Service will be on Saturday February 1st, in the church.










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So, we have welcomed in a stormy and wet New Year - many have lost treasured trees, garden furniture you thought was too heavy to move has been on an adventure round the patio, the landscape looks rather battered and sodden.  A difficult time for farmers to work out when to lift winter veg and plan spring planting.  Though even as we repair damaged fences and brace ourselves for the next onslaught we can't fail to notice that there are others who are in more peril and need real help to salvage their homes and lives from the repeated deluge of flood water.  Let us make sure we keep our senses attuned to those around us that need rescuing from whatever situation they find themselves in.  

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What a wonderful weekend we just had at St Margaret's  - St Margaret's Community Group staged another of their roller skating sessions in the Village Hall for young people (and keen adults!), and then we had Carols & Craft (in place of our usual Saturday Service) in the church.  We were delighted to see so many young families come along and have a go making Christmas crafts, all while being entertained with festive music played by Emma Ainsley on the piano.  We were particularly pleased to see a number of visitors popping in to see what was going on and staying to soak up the atmosphere of the children enjoying themselves - the mulled wine and mince pies helped as well!.  Afterwards, we gathered round the Christmas tree at Post Office Corner to help decorate it with red and gold ribbons (thank you Steph!), which I think may well become something of a tradition.  The children (and the adults) really enjoyed taking part in something for the wider community to enjoy.  In the afternoon in the Channel Room, Dover smART project staged an art workshop.  Later on at 4.00pm the same day, the Parish Council in conjunction with the Village Shop staged the official switch-on of the lights in the centre of the village - again, something that St Margaret's has never done before, but that looks like it will be something that will repeated for many years to come.

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Having fun at Carols & Craft - making sock snowmen and creating our wonderful collage that you can see displayed on the noticeboard int he children's corner.



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The lights go on in the centre of the village, cheered on by all!



Sunday saw a packed church at the Christingle service and our nativity play - the children were just gorgeous, and we were blessed with a real baby in the crib, in the form of Gil Bassil, who manfully took over the role last year taken by Josiah, who graduated (?) to a cow this year!  With angels, shepherds, fabulous improvised costumes and help from a few grown-ups we had a real treat!
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After a small wing malfunction 
("It's alright, I've got it under control!") 
Gabriel visited Mary

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We had a little cow visit the 
Holy couple

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The kings had followed
the star (little Matthew)

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All our wonderful players sang 'Away in a Manger' after their tremendous performances - well done to each and every one.

It was such a terrific example of what can be achieved when people come together, and what better cause than to celebrate the imminent arrival of the baby Jesus.

Do you want to make Christmas swags to decorate St Margaret's church?  If so, you can collect the oasis, bags and ribbon from the church porch from Sunday 1st December.  Decoration day will be Saturday 21st December, when you can bring along your wonderful creations between 10.00am and 12.00noon.  Want to make one, but not quite sure what to do? - call Gill on 852050 or Sandy on 852265 for some guidance.

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It has been busy at St Margaret's
 - on Saturday 2nd November from 10.30am to 12.00noon we had the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal Coffee Morning.  Also starting at 10.30am we had the Saturday Service in the church, our informal service especially for young people, with the theme being Remembrance.  We talked about what remembrance means - it has a surprisingly large number of definitions - how it impacts on our lives and how it is integral to our worship ("...in remembrance of Me...").
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We created a display to show the different meanings of 'remembrance' and ways to remember.  

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We made a display board about the work the British Legion carry out and its relevance to our military forces both in the past and today.

                                             



Our Remembrance Sunday service on the 10th November was extremely well attended, and it was lovely to see our many young people's uniformed associations 
represented.  The Guides had a new flag dedicated before the main service, and the Last Post / Reveille were beautifully played.  The power and emotion of this service never diminishes, in fact it seems to solidify as each year passes - we will remember them. 


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So, the Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded for to the confirmation of the existence of the 'God Particle' - aren't we all God Particles?

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There was an abundance of harvest mice and corn-on-the-cob 
in St Margaret's Church this morning (5th October) as we held our annual Harvest Craft Morning.  The church was bustling with activity and sociability as little (and not so little!) hands got to work cutting, sticking and creating all manner of things.  Particularly popular this year were the harvest mice, which made good use of old school socks, and corn-on-the-cob, which just goes to show what you can do with bubblewrap and yellow paint!  Many thanks go out to all our helpers who provided expert assistance and much needed tea & coffee!  
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From l to r:-  corn-on-the-cob and mini sunflowers; harvest mouse; the mice production line; all hands on deck to produce another lovely collage (might take a little while for the glue to dry, but it will be up on display very soon!)


Things are really moving up a gear as we get into our Harvest Festival celebrations.  West Langdon saw their Harvest Festival service yesterday (Sunday 29th September), which coincided with the 4 Churches service.  This Saturday 5th October in St Margaret's church we have the Children's Harvest Craft Morning from 10.00am to 12.00noon, where the youngsters can have a ago at a variety of craft activities.  On Sunday 6th October you can join East Langdon for their Harvest Festival at St Augustine's.  During these next two weeks I hope you are all thinking about the designs for your scarecrows, ready to bring them along to St Margaret's on Friday afternoon 4.00pm to 5.30pm (or on the Sunday morning) all ready for our Scarecrow Competition to be judged during our Harvest Festival service on Sunday 13th October.  Phew!  That will keep you all busy!

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What a lovely welcome back 
we had our September Saturday Service - we were also treated to the presence of two new babies, Mae and Matthew, with Matthew being only 6 weeks old!  Our Saturday Service family is always being renewed, which is just wonderful.  We were looking at the meaning of the word 'disciple' as our theme, and how we are all learners, whatever age we are, and whatever stage of our journey with God we are at.  We then had fun making little people to put on a poster for our display in the Children's Corner - complete with little 'L' plates!  With refreshments afterwards to give everyone chance to catch up following our Summer break (the chocolate biscuits were particularly closely policed by George) it was a great start to the new season.

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On Sunday 15th September we held our Saturday Service Party - we were delighted to welcome so many family groups, and we all had fun playing games, singing songs and eating some delicious party food!

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    SS_Party_2013_pic4We played Pin the Tail on the Whale, made fabulous jelly fish (great use of bubblewrap!), ate Fran's famous sandwiches and had a well-deserved cuppa!













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Well, the Summer is nearly at its end, and it has been such a good one this year.  The weather has been lovely - I don't recall one day that was a complete wash out - and we all know how important the weather is to the British psyche!  I read today that it has been the warmest Summer in seven years, so we have every right to feel rather lucky this year.  I wonder if people who live in permanently sunny places have that same feeling of appreciation when the sun comes from behind a cloud; that simple feeling of "it's going to be a good day", knowing that you'll see more flowers open to the sun, more birds and insects out in the warmth, more people out being that little bit less wrapped up in their own worlds and more inclined to say "hello".  Our challenge is to find the sun in every day, to spread the warmth, to make sure we connect with other people and not sink back into the semi-hibernation of the cooler weather.

With children back to school in just a few more days, and familiar routines restarted once again, here's to a renewed sense of purpose for all our young people and their educators, in whatever sphere they connect with each other.

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We are delighted to welcome Emma Ainsley as our new organist and music director at St Margaret's from August.  This also goes hand in hand with a huge thank you to all those who have covered services in the interim.

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Our July Saturday Service and Family Service looked at  the story of The Good Samaritan.  Since we were having a fabulous scorching week on the Isle of Wight, I am going to assume that everyone had an enjoyable and fulfilling time.  Judging by the lovely art work produced by the Saturday Service, I think this might have been the case!
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Little Mae receives her baptism certificate from Emily at the Family Service.






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Special.  That's what last weekend was at St Margaret's.  We had sunny weather (for once - I won't mention the cold wind) and a very busy Glebe Field for the annual Scouts & Guides Fête, where St Margaret's Church had a tombola stall.  With lots to see and do, a delicious barbecue to eat and all sorts of things going off in the central arena, it really made you appreciate this great space in the centre of the village where we can all congregate for community events.  It was a lovely occasion for meeting people you perhaps don't get chance to stop and chat with during the week, to support our terrific uniformed clubs and to feel part of the community - a sense of belonging means so much to so many people and having the opportunities to come together like that don't always come along very frequently.

It is with that sense of coming together that we welcomed the magnificent Ramsbergs Kyrkokör (it took me a while to find that accented 'o'!) from Örebro (there you go again!) in Sweden to St Margaret's Church to entertain us with a concert on Saturday night (8th June).  Their singing, mostly acapella, though some accompanied on the piano or organ, was absolutely superb - at times the harmonies were real neck tinglers!  It was a really beautiful evening of music and sharing and people stayed long after the concert to have refreshments and chat to the choir (in their excellent English, as is always the case!).  There was even a spontaneous organ recital as members of the choir tried out our organ.  I have to mention a certain younger member of the Swedish cohort who sat entranced by the music throughout the evening - 11 month old Isaac, the son of a chorister - who then went on to grin at me throughout Sundays Communion Service (perhaps I just had a crazy bit of hair sticking up), but he was gorgeous! 

Have a look at the photos on our Gallery by clicking on this link  Gallery.

We were treated again to the choir's wonderful voices during our Sunday Communion Service as they joined with our own choir to lead the music in our worship - and lead they did as a very talented lady from the choir played the organ for us.  Father Sven read the Gospel reading in Swedish, and do you know, even in an unfamiliar tongue enough words were recognisable to work out which passage it was; see if you can guess - Pharisee, Simon, alabaster, Mary Magdalene.  Have a look at Luke Chapter 7 from verse 36 if you are unsure.

We should be proud, and rightly so, of the welcome we gave our Swedish friends - and I do believe we have started a lasting friendship here - and may it encourage us to look at the nature of 'welcoming' in its widest sense to enable us to reach out and connect with the community around us.

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Our June Saturday Service looked at The Parable of the Sower and considered how well, or otherwise, the seeds the farmer sowed grew.  The children were involved in making one of the props in preparation for the Family Service the following week - they had to put together the ears of wheat and plant them in the 'fertile ground' we had made for them.  They particularly enjoyed getting the stalks to stick into the soil - it took a bit of effort, just like anything worth doing I suppose!  

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At the Family Service the following week, we talked in more depth about this parable and we brought together the rest of the props (and some willing helpers) to illustrate the story.  We are having a go at bringing more people into the leading of the Family Services, to make it more inclusive of the whole congregation.  It really does have a very comfortable atmosphere when more people are leading the different parts of the service - a truly collective act of worship.  If you would like to get involved a little more, perhaps read the Bible passage, or lead the prayers or another section of the service, you would be more than welcome to have a go! 





Well, with this strange batch of weather we are having, it is easy to see how plants struggle to thrive in anything but the best soil, as the tiny wheat plants in the fields around us testify.  What those fields also show is that even when the weather is not on its side, once those first delicate roots are put out, the plant will hang on in there, bide it's time and grow with renewed vigour when the rest of the conditions are favourable.  That seems to be a good lesson to me.  We can have the ideas, the thoughts, the plans, and just get them to germinate a little; keep going back to them to check that they are still there every now and again, then when the time is right they can be given the food and water needed to develop further and you can really see what fruit they might just bear.



West Langdon was blessed with wonderful sunshine for their annual Spring Walk on 28th April (Sunshine? Not sure if I remember what that is!).  The following report from Pamela Brown gives you a taster of the loveliness of this event - do try and come next year, the cakes are fantastic!
This annual fund-raising event was more popular than ever with old friends and new of all ages (I think the youngest was about two).  The countryside was struggling to recover from the long, long winter but the 
sun shone and everyone was able to enjoy a country tea in the gardens of Maydensole Farm.  People went home laden with lovely local produce and plants from the bring and buy stall, generously supported as ever.  A happy and successful event.



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Striding out in the sunshine                                                    Looking good, Diane!                                                                                    Everything stops for tea


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Our May Saturday Service looked at the themes around Ascension and the amazing things that had happened to the disciples since Jesus' resurrection.  We celebrated recent birthdays as well, with the added bonus of our new set of percussion instruments!  There are various items from maracas to tambourines, triangle to 'hairbrush' (don't know it's proper name, but George has christened it the hairbrush, and that seems to have stuck!).   

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Our craft activity gave everyone a chance to brush up on their origami skills - 
we made simple doves out of paper doilies and I think the decorative frill of the
doily really works to represent feathers.  We displayed them as if they were
taking off, rising as one into the sky.









Our next Saturday Service will be on the 1st June.
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There was something fishy going on at St Margaret's this Sunday (14th April)!  Our Family Service story was about when Jesus appeared to the disciples when they were out in their fishing boat, and he encouraged them to cast their nets over the other side.  Our young people made excellent fishermen (and girls) in our 'boat', and demonstrated admirably pulling in an empty net, and then one full of shiny silver fish from the other side.  We even had a frying pan of fresh sea bass ready to cook on the shore!  I'm sure they will make an excellent dinner for Rodney and Doreen!  In an endeavour to make the service more inclusive (and to help share the load that Rodney and Doreen have taken on in these services over many years now) we shared the signposting of the service between a number of us, leading the congregation at the appropriate points.  I have to say, as one of those informal 'leaders', it was really enjoyable to engage more with the congregation within the service - if a little scary to be the one everyone is staring at!

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We also were delighted to have little Caitlin with us to receive her Baptism Certificate - there she is sitting entranced by our silver fish!

After the service today we held St Margaret's Annual Parochial Church Meeting at the Village Hall, followed by a fantastic Sunday Roast cooked by Terry, Sandy and Jane - it smelt delicious as we walked over to the Hall, it looked delicious as we were served at our tables and it certainly tasted delicious!  Thank you so much for your time and effort in preparing such a wonderful community meal, it really was a treat.

If you would like to read the Gospel reading from today, please go to our Reflection... page and click on the link.


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At our April Saturday Service, we explored what happened on Easter Sunday and the miracle of the resurrection.  We talked about how the resurrection was such a reason for celebration, and still is.  We even shared our last Easter eggs!  Our craft activity hopes to show the joy felt about the risen Christ, as we made a cross out of our hand prints to represent our celebration.  Have a close look - there are some lovely tiny prints from our youngest members!  

We also received the quite fantastic wooden model of a church made by Frank Stanford, son of St Margaret's blacksmith - please have a close look, the detail is wonderful.  We are extremely grateful to Frank for all his hard work and for bequeathing the results of his talents for everyone to enjoy.

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Wishing you all the joy of Easter
Here are some pictures from the Easter Sunday service at St Margaret's:-

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Our poster which the children made at the Good Friday Workshop.


Easter_2013Our model of Christ's tomb,
after we 'rolled away' the stone


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Some of our youngsters with our Easter Garden.





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It really was a Good Friday for our youngsters and their families - if you liked socialising, chatting, making things and hot cross buns!  We were blessed withover 50 people at our Good Friday Workshop, despite the biting wind and snow (!), who all came in from the cold to have a go at making some Easter themed craft. The children made the Easter Garden, which was put in church ready for Easter Sunday, and contributed to our large poster which has elements from throughout Jesus' life.  We may add more to the picture in the coming months.

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Getting busy!
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Making some fantastic cards






Making Easter bunnies & baskets      All hands on deck for the large poster





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Plently of Mums, Grans and loved ones would have been the lucky recipients of some beautiful hand made gifts on Mothering Sunday - we had a great turn-out at our Mothering Sunday Craft Morning the day before, with youngsters making cards, bunches of tissue paper flowers, daisy plates, hearts and fridge magnets.  They also worked together to produce a really lovely frieze that is now on the board in the Children's Corner.  We were treated to a delicious Simnel Cake, courtesy of Theresa Forrester, and tea and coffee flowed readily thanks to our refreshments helpers.  We were delighted to see so many people come along and join us - it gets bigger every year!  Thanks must go out to everyone who helpd make these events run so smoothly, and especially to everyone who donates craft materials of whatever sort to us - everything gets used somewhere!  Look out for notices in the Pew News if we are in need of anything specific.

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Putting together the flowers for                      A bevy of lovelies!
the Sunday morning service


Making the frieze                                Busy decorating cards             Posies of flowers on this table

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It was a busy weekend for the Saturday Service crowd!
  On Saturday morning (2nd February) we held our regular monthly service, which this time was on the theme of Candlemas.  We talked about how Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem, and how Simeon and Anna recognised that he was the true Messiah.  We noticed the difference between the reactions of Simeon and Anna - SImeon was content that God hed kept his promise to him;  Anna went round and spread the word to as many people as she could.  
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She spread the light of the Lord, and so we designed our craft activity around Lighting the Way - we had to think of as may 
ways as possible of how we can light the way.  


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Then on Sunday afternoon, we had the first of our twice yearly parties in the Channel Room of the Village Hall.  With silly games, party food and origami Candlemas Candles to make, we all had a very enjoyable couple of hours!  Our next party will by in September, and our next Saturday Service is the 2nd March.  We will also be having our Mothering Sunday Craft Morning in the church on Saturday 9th March, 10.00am to 12noon, so we hope to see you there!

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SNOW!       

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Mum's and children's race; tandem racing; the Dad's get in on the act!

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I know not everyone welcomes a heavy fall of the white stuff, but you have to admit that it brings a welcome brightness after the dull gloom of wind and rain!  It's been a source of great delight and hours of fun for the young (and not so young - I do love sledging!) as well as being a good way to shake some life into your bones after the Christmas calories!

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Epiphany was celebrated at our 4 Churches service this January.  We welcomed the arrival of The Three Kings to the cribside scene, carried by some of our young people (many thanks to Neve Basil, George Verren and George Simcox).  We were treated by our choir to a lovely choral piece by Peter Cornelius entitled 'Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar'.  We also heard T S Eliot's Journey of the Magi, and reflected on the themes of 'journey' and 'epiphany'.  Members of the Westcliffe and West Langdon congregations made a delicious Epiphany cake and crown for us - whoever gets the piece with the hidden bean becomes King or Queen for 24 hours!  This honour went to George Simcox (his Mum was pleased!).  We also had a Gallette de Roi brought by Roger Broughton, which was an extremely tasty flakey pastry with an almond filling (I'm a sucker for an almond tart!) which also had a hidden token - I didn't catch the name of the lucky lady who found it, but if anyone came home from church demanding corgis, it may have been them!
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Cutting the Epiphany Cake












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Our first Saturday Service of the New Year took the form of a little road trip! We walked fromt he church over to the Amy Temple cottages on Chapel Lane in order to carry out a little New Year ceremony of Blessing of the Houses - a blessing is written in chalk on the wall of the house which takes the following form:

                                                                                                                              20 + C + M + B + 13

which shows the year (2013) and C M B meaning Christus Mansionem Benedicat ("May Christ bless this house"). C M B also stands for Caspar, Melchoir and Balthasar, widely taken as the names of the Three Wise Men.  By design, we also had our Three Kings from our Nativity in full regalia with us - thank you Oliver, Oliver and George!  We visited each cottage (by prior arrangement), made the blessing and gave a rendition of "We Three Kings".  We then returned to the church for refreshments and to enjoy the lovely unexpected treats given to us by the ladies of the cottages!  We all came away really buoyed up by the sheer loveliness of what we had taken part in - thanks go to Diane for introducing what we hope will become a lasting tradition to the Saturday Service.


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St Margaret's Church was bulging at the rafters this evening at our Cribside Service.  From the young to the not so young, all faces were alive with the excitement of Christmas.  With carols sung with gusto, candlelight and the most lovely Christmas floral decorations, it was, as always, the perfect way to remind us all why we celebrate Christmas - we are filled with the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  

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May the joy and hope of the Christmas Season sustain you through the coming year.

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We got out and about on Thursday 20th December!  If you happened to be out in one of St Margaret's many hostelries you would have been treated to a selection of seasonal carols sung by a group from St Margaret's church.  We were warmly received - many thanks to the delicious refreshments provided by The Coastguard and The Red Lion at the start and end of our journey - and all agreed it was a really lovely evening and a great opportunity to get out and about amongst the community.

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Our Christingle Service at St Margaret's was a little more adventurous this year!  We incorporated a Nativity play, culminating in a tableau of all the characters (and there were some!) and the children sang the first verse of Away in a Manger together.  All the children played their roles marvellously, from the littlest of angels (Neve, you looked so sweet!), to our Innkeeper who certainly has a career in mime ahead of him (well done Zac!).  Due to a certain forgetfulness of the props mistress (me), baby Jesus was at home resting, but we were truely blessed by Josiah Smith, who, at two weeks old, stood in at the last minute as understudy and slept blissfully unaware of what was going on in the crib!  Thank you Emily and James for trusting us with your special little boy!

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There were some extremely well-costumed visitors to the stable!



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We were joined by other children from the congregation for our rendition of Away in a Manger.  






It was fabulous to see so many young people taking part in our service, and they all enjoyed the Christingle oranges (and the goodies on the sticks!).

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Westcliffe church looked marvelous for it's celebration of Harvest, which also incorporated it's Gift Day.  They were also delighted to welcome the primary school Key Stage 1 choir to sing during the Gift Day.  We have some lovely photos from that weekend:-

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The school choir entertaining at St Peter's Gift Day.




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The lovely harvest displays on show at Westcliffe.



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What a full congregation we had on Sunday at St Margaret's!  
OK, so a certain number of them were a little less animated than the rest, what with them being scarecrows!  We had a lovely Harvest Festival celebration and a fabulous scarecrow competition, with an amazing number of entries.  It was expertly judged by Mr John Plommer, of Maydensole Farm, West Langdon, and the winner was an entry made by Class 1 of the primary school - I am sure they will be thrilled!  It was a really joyful celebration and a collection of produce was made on behalf of Porchlight - the local charity that supports homeless and vulnerable people in the district, all the more in need in the current economic climate.  I am sure all our donations will be gratefully received.

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Some of the wonderful scarecrows who joined our congregation!

The Four Churches Service at St. Mary's, West Langdon, at the end of July 2012, again took the form of Songs of Praise as it has done for the last eight years. With the Queen's Jubilee this year and the Olympics, the church was decorated accordingly and our theme was 'Celebration and Thanksgiving'.
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It is always interesting to hear how and why the hymns have been chosen, some old favorites, some new. This year we were given a treat when one of the unfamiliar hymns was sung as a solo and we all joined in the refrain. All the personal and shared reasons for celebration at this time came together and a 'full house' enjoyed a very special service taken by Diane, with Jannine playing the organ.


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Did you make it to the Lighthouse last night (Monday 4th June 2012) for the switching on of the light? It was absolutely magical to see so many people there, on such a beautiful night (did you see the moon!) to watch our landmark come to life again as a Jubilee Beacon. The view from the passing ferries must have been marvellous, as the light raked the sides of the ships. To see those three fingers of light on their steady passage was incredibly special, and my two kiddies were lucky enough to be right at the top when the light was switched on - something they will never forget. We could even see the light pass over the village from our bedroom windows right in the middle of the village - what a night light!

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Oh my word! What a fabulous morning we have just had (Sunday 3rd June 2012) launching intrepid cuddly toys from the top of the church tower for our Jubilee Teddy Bear Parachute Jump! The weather was as near to perfect as we could have hoped - the drizzle stopped and the wind dropped to ideal landing conditions. Queues formed for Check In (no change there then!) as eager entrants, and some reluctant ones, prepared themselves for their adventure. Boarding Control was admirably manned by Barbara Wells and Peter Wash, carefully checking Pawsports and attaching identification labels, and all jumpers were efficiently processed. Passengers were then transferred to the Boarding Lounge by Teresa Forrester where parachutes were attached and jumpers had their last minute safety briefing, before being loading into the hi-tech lift (OK, a rubber basket) to take them to the top of the tower.

The Tower Team then hauled up the basket and did a final check on harnesses before the number of each entrant was radioed down to base prior to launch by Diane. Each jumper was greeted with cheers of encouragement as they floated, spun, drifted and occasionally dropped at an alarming rate to outstretched arms of their nervously awaiting owners. We only had a couple of wayward landings - in a bush, having a gentle bounce down the roof, the occasional buffet against the tower wall (!), but I have to mention Shirley the Sheep who managed to get her parachute stuck on a bit of flint half way up the tower wall! Cliff rescue was carried out by the basket haulage team and she was safely brought back down to earth! First Aid was available should anyone have needed it!

Click on the link below to open up our Gallery page to see some very brave animals taking part:

Gallery

A total of 54 brave bears, dogs, cats, rabbits, cows, dolls, penguins (yes they do fly!) and a crocodile (!) took part, and all received a certificate to mark the occasion.

Many, many thanks are due to all those involved, not least to Diane for coming up with the idea in the first place! Teresa Forrester made the fantastic covers of the Pawsports, the ladies of the village craft group made the perfect parachutes (thanks to all who donated old umbrellas), Andy Verren, for devising and making the equipment for hauling the basket (it was Mark IV version that finally did the job, he would not be beaten!); Jimmy McEwen and David Simcox for being brilliant ground control; Jo and Pete Wash for their combination of efficient tower and ground work; Teresa Forrester for running the boarding lounge; Rosie Verren for first-rate radio work with the tower; Diane for a terrific launch action (cricket team need a bowler?); Sam and Reuben Brown for the loan of their great walkie talkies, and any one else who I might have forgotten to mention here.

It was a fantastic atmosphere and I hope everyone who was present had a thoroughly enjoyable time - I certainly did! If anyone has any photos or video clips they would like to share please email them to pccwebmoderator@btinternet.com and we will post them here for everyone to enjoy.

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Preparation was the order of the day for our June Saturday Service - it was the last chance for the final preparations for the Teddy Bear Parachute Jump the next day. We were all in Jubilee mood, the significance and uniqueness of this occasion was palpable. We all got stuck in (literally) making a large mosaic Union Flag (yes, it's only a 'Jack' if it is flown on the Jack post of a ship), which looked terrifically effective on our board. 
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What incredibly smart looking Beavers!










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Our May Saturday Service was all about Pentecost (we were a little bit early for it, but we like to be prepared!). We talked about the experience of the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples and what it must have been like. The ability to speak and understand all the languages that were going on around them must have been an astonishing site, and we expanded this idea to encompass spreading the Word and learning to understand other peoples. 

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Our craft activity continued with this theme and on a background of flame we cut out and attached silver trumpets, to which we stuck "Jesus is risen" written in a host of different languages.






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The heavens stopped teeming
 and the sun melted away the clouds this afternoon (Sunday 29th April 2012) especially for the Annual Spring Walk from Maydensole Farm, West Langdon. So a big "thank you" to the organisers for ordering up such a lovely afternoon again! We did come fully prepared with wellies (did you see the rain yesterday?!) which were well used in some areas of squidgy mud, which my daughter said looked like the butter cream on George's birthday cake - I think that might have been a compliment! 
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A great turn out gathered at the barn, eyeing up the delicious looking spread of cakes, biscuits and scones all ready for the hungry walkers on their return, and I can assure you they were every bit as lovely as they looked, all washed down with hot tea - fantastic! 





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We took in the beautiful coutryside, the sound of the skylarks and a surprisingly warm breeze, as we followed the route. 








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Even the cows had a good tea!







It is always a lovely way to spend a Spring afternoon, if you couldn't get this year, do come along next time.

I received a lovely note from the organisers ofthe walk:

"After the wettest April on record and black skies in the morning, the clouds lifted in time for a lovely sunny walk in the afternoon. Well equipped for the mud underfoot, the large crowd of walkers set off from Maydensole Farm, along the North Downs Way waist high in the brilliant yellow rape flowers, down to the village of Ashley and back in a circuit through the fields to the farm. Old friends and new and several families with children enjoyed tea in the barn, with a challenging country quiz and games for the children. Support for the bring-and- buy stall of plants and produce was as generous as ever – masses of cakes, preserves, garden produce, and a great variety of plants for the garden. Many thanks to all contributors and supporters."

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Oh my goodness! What a fantastic afternoon we have had today (Friday 6th April 2012) at the Good Friday Workshop. We thought people might choose to make the most of the beautiful sunny weather, but we were completely bowled over by the number of people who came to the Village Hall. I stopped counting at 65! Everyone got stuck in making all sorts of Easter crafts and lots of children had a go designing parts of the wonderful Easter frieze - making palm leaves, cutting out people, making trees, sheep and clouds. 

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The Easter Garden was constructed with lots of little helping hands (and a centipede and snail, courtesy of the fresh moss!) and can now be seen in the church. I must send out a heartfelt "thank you" to the ladies who pitched in and organised the refreshments for me - your help was really appreciated on such a busy afternoon. 


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GFW_2012_pic7Getting stuck in to all our activities!

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Our eager crafters meant that I was required to make a couple of rapid trips back home to pick up some extra craft supplies (thank goodness we eat a lot yoghurts, we needed those pots!), and again, the lovely ladies held the fort. Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time and it was a totally delightful afternoon!









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Saturday 17th March 2012 saw a church full of eager children (and adults!), armed with glue sticks and scissors making some lovely things for their Mums and anyone else they could think of. This all happened at our Mothering Sunday Craft Morning, the third year running we have held this increasingly popular event. The children made cards, flower basket collages, decorative hearts, daffodils, mini sunflowers and tissue paper peonies, samples of which can be seen displayed on the children's board, along with a fantastic collage entitled We Are Loved.
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Fortified by drinks, biscuits and an amazingly delicious simnel cake, we all enjoyed a fulfilling morning, and I'm sure the the fruits of their labours were greatly appreciated.

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We had a Vision Day on Saturday 10th March! No, we weren't hallucinating, but around 20 people from the benefice did have a fantastically productive morning down at Temple Ewell Baptist Church. We were there to talk about Ministry, Worship, the Spiritual side and Outreach - the what, when, how and why of our actions as a benefice. This all works forward towards the writing of the Deanery Mission Plan, to which every benefice contributes. Even after just a few minutes, some really considered thoughts and themes were coming to the fore. It's not often, in any walk of life, that you have the chance to step back and look at what it is you do, and after the quality of discussion we had over the two hours, I am sure we will make the most of our opportunity.

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What happened to February?! Blink and you missed it. At least we are getting some much needed rain. It will wash the grime of Winter away, leaving a clean slate for this period of Lent. Our March Saturday Service looked at giving our cares and worries over to Jesus to bear their weight, as he did when he died on the cross for us. Diane talked to us about Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism, his temptations and his ultimate trust in God's plan for him. During our craft session, we were encouraged to write down our cares onto pieces of grey tissue paper, or draw a symbol to represent them. Then we screwed them up into a 'stone' and glued them onto a cross, to represent Jesus carrying the weight of our cares. This is an ongoing interactive craft project and anyone who wishes can add their own stones to complete the picture by Easter. Try it, you may be surprised at how difficult it is to put into words what we feel, and how cathartic adding to the collage can be. We also drew Christian symbols onto actual stones to take away with us as a physical reminder of what we had been talking about.

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Our creative efforts!
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Our February Saturday Service was all about Candlemas and the presentation of Jesus at the temple 40 days after his birth. Our young congregation showed fantastic feats of memory by recalling details of this event that they had heard talked about at the Four Churches service the previous Sunday (well done Georgie!), and Rosie read beautifully to everyone (Simeon / Cinnamon, we know what you meant!). We talked about the changing of the year, turning away from Christmas ("Turn, turn" - blimey, don't start me off again!) towards Lent. We turned a Christmas tree into the Tree of Life and showed what we needed to feed this tree and what God gave us as fruits from the tree. 

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We finished off with some really good chocolate cake and a welcome hot drink! Next month's Saturday Service (3rd March) will be about Lent.







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Just a little note to say what a special Four Churches service we had this morning (Sunday 29th January 2012) at St Margaret's for Candlemas. We ended the service all facing the cross at the back of the church and Gillian read aloud from Eccelsisates 3: v1-8, whilst Maggie played 'Turn, Turn' on the piano. For those who don't know, this song is derived almost entirely from the words in Ecclesiastes and was made famous by The Byrds in 1965. The juxtaposition of the words and a familiar tune was extremely, and unexpectedly, moving, and many of the congregation had to hunt out the tissues. We all think we are in control of our emotions, particularly in public situations, but sometimes things break through and really touch our hearts when we least expect them.

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We had a party yesterday! By 'we', I mean the Saturday Service crowd. We took over the Channel Room at the Village Hall on Sunday 15th January 2012 and had a fun afternoon of silly songs, games, craft and, of course, party food! 
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We made particularly menacing balloon-head pirates! 

Balloons and paper plates - the staple of any craft activity!


Everyone got stuck in, mooed like a cow, walked like a chicken, raced with a balloon - whatever the afternoon required! With stomachs appropriately filled with sandwiches, sausage rolls (delicious, Sarah!) and far too much chocolate cake, we all had a great afternoon.

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It was all hands on deck for the first Saturday Service of the New Year 2012 - well, all hands on tables at least. Reason being we were making hand-print doves to go onto our poster about Baptism, instructions later!. Our theme was the Baptism of Christ and the symbols of baptism. We gathered round the font and went through what happens with the help of baby Katie, generously loaned by Rosie. Not many children can say their dolly was baptised! It was lovely to meet up again after the festivities and all our babes in arms are now walking! As it was also close to Epiphany we walked in procession to take the Wise Men to the crib scene - they are surprisingly heavy - go and have a look before they are put carefully away for next Christmas, they are beautifully painted. 
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To make a dove - place your hand on a piece of paper, fingers together and thumb outstretched. Draw round it and add an eye and beak to the tip of the thumb, add a wing shape - one dove!

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We were delighted to have a full church for Carols & Craft on Saturday 3rd December in St Margaret's Church. Everyone got stuck in (literally!) with the craft activities, making pine cone shristmas trees, decorating baubles, making crackers, cards and more. There is a fantastic nativity scene on the display board, made from a variety of materials and a whole lot of glue! With just a broad idea to start them off, it is great to see how everyone's imagination can really take off as people get absorbed into the task to hand. With mulled wine and mince pies, along with some delightful biscuits and cakes brought in we were well looked after. 

It was lovely to have people just dropping in for a cup of tea, to see what was going on, and to have the church so thronged with Christmas activity. As a little addition to our usual activities, young Rosie Verren was selling Christmas cards she had made and some craft work all in aid of Porchlight, and I am delighted to say she raised a fantastic £45.00! This will be passed on to Porchlight and I am sure it will make a difference to someone's life this Christmas.


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Was your Sunday ordinary? If you were part of the congregation at St Margaret's on Sunday 27th November 2011, I can pretty much guarantee that it was anything but ordinary! We were delighted and priviledged to welcome The Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to our church to celebrate Holy Communion. To have the head of worldwide Anglicanism here, in our church, talking to us was absolutely fantastic. What made it even more special was the amazing normality of it all. No pomp, no ceremony, just thoughtful, meaningful worship. No difficult theological conundrums (and we all know what an educated, cerebral theologian the Arch Bishop is), but a beautiful sermon on the value of taking time, of waiting, of nurturing the seed of faith that God has sown in all those who are open to His word. He talked directly to us all and it felt like a true, genuine connection with the congregation. The choir sounded amazing and the atmosphere was wonderful. He stayed for coffee and conversation afterwards ("and special biscuits!" - Georgie) and I am certain all present will treasure the memory and remember the warmth of the message.
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Enjoying tea and a chat after the service

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On parade! DSCN1143


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My personal favourite - the Arch Bishop doing what he does so well, connecting with people.


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Remembrance Season
 is always a moving time for many people. Our Saturday Service was delighted to have Frances, the Head of St Margaret's British Legion Women's Section, to come and talk to us about the work of the British Legion in a modern context. We talked about the origin of Armistice Day and the use of the poppy to signify the souls lost in the defence of our country's values. We thought about the different ways we use to remember people, places and events and put the ideas together in a collage.
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November 13th saw a full church to mark 
Remembrance
Sunday
, including veterans, our Fire Service, young
people represented by our Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Sea
Cadets, Brownies and Guides. Even if our contact with
conflict is mercifully far removed, the Exhortation and Kohima Epitaph never fails to make the losses feel intensley personal. The service was a credit to all there and all those it represents.





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Beautiful weather made the annual Beating the Bounds Footpath Walk
 a truly enjoyable occasion, taking in our fantastic countryside as it changes into it's Autumn glory. For those not familiar with this event, we all meet at the Village Hall and choose one of a number of pre-planned routes around the village environs, and armed with a map, comments sheet and pencil, follow the route noting anything that may need addressing eg gates in need of repair, overgrown paths etc. With a warm wind and a clear sky, walking along the cliffs, down to the beach and back to the Hall really took in the full beauty of our corner of God's Earth. Then at the Hall we were treated to a fantastic tea of sandwiches and cakes. Just the ticket for hungry walkers. If you missed it this year, please do join in next year. I can't guarantee the weather, but even in the rain, the thought of a hot cuppa waiting helps eat up the miles!

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Our Harvest Festival Service at St Margaret's, 
(9th October 2011), was a fabulous celebration of our local harvest, and wider generosity. In a lovely relaxed service - which included some rather unusual members of the congregation! - we gave thanks for the fruits of the earth, those from our own gardens, our local farmland and from the wider community. We collected perishable and non-perishable goods, with the non-perishables being taken to the Porchlight centre at Fern Court in Dover (many thanks to Gill and Beryl for their help). All the perishables were then shared amongst the congregation - Charlotte, your apples made fantastic crumble! 

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We extend heartfelt thanks to local farmer Rob Rogers for judging our Scarecrow competition, which was won by "Simpson" made by Lara Modi and family. This fabulous scarecrow is also being entered into an inter-school competition being run by Whole School Meals, so good luck to Simpson!SMA_Harvest_2011_pic_1











With a great harvest samba from the choir and joyful worship it was a great way to celebrate our Harvest Festival.

If you recognised the pumpkin, it was making a guest appearance after starring in St Peter's Harvest displays! It will now be recycled (yet again) as a Jack-O'-Lantern - I think I had better start carving it now!

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We had a fantastic turn out for our Harvest Craft Morning (Saturday 1st October 2011) at St Margaret's Churchdespite (or perhaps because!) of the amazing weather! Children of all ages, and parents, enjoyed a morning of craft activities all with a harvest theme. We made wooden spoon scarecrows (becoming a well-loved standard after their popularity last year), pine cone animals, decorated leaves, made leaf-rubbing pictures and more. You must have a look at the stunning Harvest Collage on our display board - it is a fantastically imaginative use of materials. The whole event is testament to the generosity of our congregation, as without the numerous donations of craft materials it would be much harder, and costly, to put on such large crafting events. So "thank you" to everyone who makes this possible.
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Songs of Praise was a joyous afternoon last Sunday (18th September 2011). More than 60 people gathered in St Margaret's Village Hall to share their favourite hymns and have a good old sing-song! A total of eleven hymns and worship songs were chosen by people young and old, and reasons for their choices were varied and personal. 

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Saying "Hello" and settling in!

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In full voice!
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Diane officiating









The songs chosen, (and who chose them) were:-
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Lead Kindly Light - Walter Parkinson 
(the theme of light has been important throughout his life)








Blessed Assurance - Gillian Loveridge (particularly with her sister in mind)

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Bind us Together - Malcolm & Christine Shepherd (a love of the sentiment)






Morning Has Broken - Carol Belsey (a favourite from many people's childhood)
Christians Awake, Salute the Happy Morn - Eleanor Goddall (a Christmas song, full of joy)
Lord the Light of Your Life is Shining - Jackie Blanchard (raised the roof!)

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O Perfect Love all Human Thoughts Transcending - Margaret & Ron Jones (played at their wedding, which happened to be 54 years ago to the day - Happy Anniversary, and thank you for choosing to spend it with us!)


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Abba Father, Let Me Be - Hazel & Cyril Knight (a comforting memory of childhood musical evenings)






Lord of the Dance - Keely Marconi (a great no-holds-barred account of Jesus' life learnt by virtually everyone during childhood, and never forgotten)

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I the Lord of Sea and Sky - Linda Carter (for when we find it difficult to know what it is God wants us to do)






To God be the Glory - May Sanford (the reason we were all there, to Praise the Lord!)


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It was a real treat to be part of such an inclusive afternoon, and a jolly social one, with the tea and biscuits to follow giving everyone a chance to mingle and chat. What an excellent idea - here's to next year!






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We had a party on Sunday! (4th September 2011). The Saturday Service crowd had a wonderful get-together at the Vicarage, with songs, craft and party food! Whilst the weather decided not to play fair, the mood at the party was decidedly sunny. It was a really enjoyable, sociable afternoon, and we all thank Diane for letting us invade! We sang some songs, played games and the children did a little craft activity as a follow-up to the Saturday Service. Then we had party food (yay!) - and the rain stopped! The children played outside (in the immaculate garden, thanks to Gillian) and ate a little more ice cream, then we took our little darlings home to bed, ready for school the next day.

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Cheesey grins from the boys, when they're not feeding their faces!





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Nevé & Dad

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In the kitchen at parties!
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Ice cream time! P1020099P1020100












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Our Saturday Service numbers were boosted today (Saturday 3rd September 2011) with extra people wanting to hear our special guest, Rachel Van Hoven from the charity Porchlight. After our July Saturday Service with the theme of "Building Foundations", we progressed to "What makes a house a home?". Rachel talked to us about the work the charity does, how people come to find themselves without a roof over their heads, and what steps they take to help people back onto their feet. Her eloquence and passion for the work really shone through and confirmed what a good choice the PCC made in making Porchlight one of the three charities supported this year. Diane read us the story of Moses in the Bullrushes, which really emphasised the value of having a home and how easily your situation could change.

Rachel brought with her house-shaped collection boxes for the children to decorate and put together. We are going to collect them back in at our October Harvest Craft Morning to see what our "harvest" can reap! 
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Building firm foundations was the theme of the July Saturday Service today (2nd July 2011). We were looking at the passage from Matthew of the wise man who built his house upon the rock. The children explored what we mean by foundations, both actual and metaphorical and then we built up a picture of a house, with a twist - the house itself was cut into a jigsaw and after the base layer was put in place the children had to work out which pieces came next to build it up layer by layer. It was then embellished with windows, shutters, a garden, hanging baskets and all the added things that turn bricks and mortar into something greater than the sum of its parts. We can all hear the message that Jesus brought to us, but it is what we then chose to do with it that makes the difference. We sang "The wise man built his house upon the rock", shared cake to celebrate up coming birthdays and, as usual, enjoyed each others company. 
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Our jigsaw house! 











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Friday 1st July was the Primary School Summer Fayre!
 What fantastic support the Parents, Teachers & Friends Association had today as it staged their annual Summer Fayre at the school. The PTFA raises valuable funds to pay for the things that make a real difference to the learning environment for our children - the new outdoor play equipment was our latest project, and we have more exciting projects in the pipeline. With lots of stalls, games, bouncy castles and delicious refreshments indoors and out, and a raffle with really great prizes, we are hopeful that we have raised plenty of money for more exciting project in the pipeline. We were also blessed with amazing weather which made it a a really wonderful Summer's afternoon.
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What an enjoyable Saturday afternoon we have just had (25th June)! It was the Scout Association Barbeque on the Glebe Field, as part of the events this year to celebrate 25 years of Beaver Scouts, the youngest Scouting members. With members of Beavers, Cubs and Scouts all present, along with families, siblings and friends, we all took part in lots of games and races and enjoyed a delicious barbeque. With the warm weather, good company and good food it was a fitting display of how thriving the Scouting (and Guiding) movement is, and its vital role as a mechanism of bringing the community and generations together.
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For those looking for more cerebral persuits, the 
St Margaret's Players Nosh & Knowledge Quiz Night 
on the 25th June certainly stretched the brain cells! With a full hall of 10 teams there was much head-scratching at the tricky questions set by Peter & Brian. With a lovely musical interlude from the Freedowners Choir and an American Supper, it was a very enjoyable evening, with the scores being surprisingly close in the end, but the winners were The Optimists!
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What a busy weekend! The Scout & Guide Fair
 on Saturday 11th June was blessed with perfectly timed good weather - anyone still on the field after the 4pm end time would have had an unexpected shower! It was a lovely event, lots of stalls, great entertainment from the St Margaret's Young Performers, and we enjoyed the ever popular presence of our valuable local Fire & Rescue Service and RNLI personnel. With a variety of stalls, barbeque and music it was a lovely village occasion.

For those after a little quality culture, the 
concert by The Julian Trio 
at St Augustine's church, East Langdon on the saturday evening fitted the bill perfectly. It was a fantastic evening of extremely high quality musicianship, beautiful pieces of baroque chamber music and an ideal setting - church designers certainly knew the value of good acoustics! It was a real treat to hear the recorder play music it was made for - such a warm, crisp sound, really beautiful. You would have to travel far to hear a better concert. Let's hope they play locally again soon.

Sunday 12th June saw the 
Grand Opening of our amazing new play park, The Rec
, on the KGV field! Incidently, my son thinks it's his field because his name is on the gate - George V!
With food, entertainment from the St Margaret's Young Performers, Vista Twisters cheerleaders and the Toddler Group, along with a fancy dress competition, food and drink, it was a real family atmosphere. The children were so excited to finally get to play on the new equipment, after watching it take shape over the pervious weeks, and from the comments I heard they were really delighted! What an amazing achievement by Tracy Evans and her invaluable helpers, she should be very proud of herself, we are certainly proud of her, and of the greater sense of community that this project has engendered - long may it continue!
                                               
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June's Saturday Service was back up to strength now the rash of Bank Holiday weekends have passed, and we had a lovely service about Pentecost. We learnt about the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples, and how confusing this must have been to those hearing all the different languages being spoken, yet still understanding them. We talked about the physical nature of the Spirit as it appeared as roaring wind and flame, and of the value we put on light. We celebrated upcoming birthdays and the birthday of our Church. The chosen song, "This little light of mine", was obviously a big hit as the children carried on singing it while we did our craft activity!
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Our Pentecost poster included hanging spirals that turn to represent the wind of the Holy Spirit amongst the disciples (which the children all instinctively drew with smiling faces!). I hope my extra strong sellotape is holding up the string, but if it's slipped, please be kind enough to fix it back up!

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I haven't laughed so much in ages, and if you were in the audience for Fawlty Towers
 last week (18th - 21st May 2011) you will know exactly what I'm talking about! What a great production from St Margaret's Players - great sets and fantastic portrayals of really iconic comedy characters, which was an incredibly brave production to do. Sell-out houses every night were rewarded with authentic performances from all concerned - and I have to mention a star performance from Ben Wash as Manuel (yes, he is my nephew and I am biased, but for a 17 year old lad who wasn't even born when Fawlty Towers was regularly on television he brought the house down with a simple "Que?"). A really great evening out, I can't wait for the next production.
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If you came along to the Spring Walk from Maydensole Farm
, West Langdon, you will have enjoyed a really wonderful afternoon of fabulous weather, beautiful countryside and an outstanding farmhouse tea. 

The West Langdon Spring Walk, which in spirit is related to the beating of the parish bounds that used to occur on Rogation Sunday in some places, happened earlier than usual this year, on 17th April. Nevertheless it was blessed by perfect weather for the three mile walk through the Plommer farmland around Maydensole Farm. The walkers, who included young families, more mature members of the community, Diane our vicar, and dogs (headed by Tess), were led by John Plommer. They first followed the track of the old Roman road which used to connect Dover and Richborough castles, then cut across the fields to St. Mary’s Church and followed a long loop round a valley of fields planted with wheat, barley and peas back to the farmyard. 
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Setting off!


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At the farmhouse a delicious tea of homemade cakes and scones flowed from the kitchen into the garden (and into our stomachs! - Ed). Brains were stretched by a country quiz – did you know where ‘straw walkers’ were found? – all were amused by ‘The Gardener’s Hymn’, and children showed the ten natural objects they had collected during the walk. Then there was an opportunity to choose from the great range of plants and produce to take home, generously contributed by many members of the community.
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Hard to choose from all the fantastic home produce 
and plants.

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Back at the farm for a delicious 
tea in the sun!

The whole event was not only pleasurable but gave a picture of traditional rural life in the parish. Sadly, we learned that this was to be the last Spring Walk, which the Plommer family has hosted for the past twelve years and which has become the major fundraising event for St. Mary’s West Langdon. Rosemary in particular has worked very hard, together with her stalwart band of helpers, to create such a delightful highlight to our year’s calendar. This will be remembered with great affection and gratitude. 

(As fellow Spring Walkers, me and my children can heartily confirm it was one of those rural events that really reminds you that we live in a special part of the country with communities that should be truly treasured - Ed)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Our May Saturday Service had "Celebration" as it's theme - the joy of Christ's resurrection, new life of Spring, Royal celebrations and the fantastic weather! Diane read the story of the journey to Emmaus by Cleopas and his friend, where they were joined by Jesus along the way. Coincidentally, the Hebrew word for Emmaus means "warm spring", rather apt for us at the moment! The disciples walked along the road to Emmaus, first in sadness and bewilderment at their percieved loss of their Lord and all they had hoped for. They did not realise this stranger who walked with them was Jesus, and they poured their hearts out to him, telling him of all that had happened. Jesus didn't try to cheer them up, give a pep talk, tell them to snap out of it, like so many of us do when confronted by the sadness and depression of others. He just listened and recapped over the storied of the prophets, telling them what they already knew in their hearts, but were too clouded in their minds to see. When they stopped for the night Jesus broke bread with them and the clouds were lifted - they could plainly see Jesus was with them! 

Isn't this so like our lives - from a young age we have all heard the Bible stories, many we know off by heart, but so many times we cloud our minds with doubt and worldly cares that we stop listening, and lose confidence in what we already know to be the truth.

For our activity, we considered the universal symbol of celebration - hands! Whatever language we speak we express joy and celebration by clapping, waving our hands in the air, holding our arms aloft - even in sign language, instead of clapping one waves one's hands. At Glastonbury thousands of people raise their hands in the air as if to connect with some unseen physical force of the emotion of the music. So we drew round our hands on material and cut out the shapes. The colours progress from brown (the earth), through greens (new life of growing plants), to multi-colours (flowers) and into the blue of the sky. They are on a yellow background to represent the warmth of the sun and the warmth of God's love, and are arranged in a cross shape with fingers pointing outwards to represent the Risen Christ. We hope you like it!

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Happy Easter to you all!  What wonderful Easter services have been held in the benefice, and I'm sure the fantastic weather really helps us to feel the joy of new life that the season brings.  The church flowers look beautiful and we are all extremely grateful to the hard work and creativity of the ladies involved.  

We began our Easter weekend with the Service of the Last Hour on the Cross on Good Friday at St Margaret's Church, and silence was kept at the end of the service, which is most fitting to mark such a solemn and significant event.  At the same time, children were invited to come along to the Village Hall for the Good Friday Workshop, where the Easter story is told in a way accessible to children, and there are a variety of Easter crafts to make.  We had a bumper attendance last year, but I am afraid this year we were competing with fantastic weather, which we couldn't complain about really.  Every one who came along enjoyed a very sociable and productive afternoon, making cards, decorating eggs, making Easter nests, producing a great Easter frieze and making the Easter garden which was to be displayed in the church. 
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Making Easter nests and cards.






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Decorating eggs!


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Making the Easter GFW_2011_fGarden to display in church











Our Easter scene is displayed in the Children's Corner in St Margaret's Church - the sheep have a tendancy to GFW_2011_groam, if you find one on the floor, please stick it back on!






A very many thanks to all those who helped out, you are always very generous with your time and input.






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Easter Sunday brought a packed St Margaret's church, and at St Augustine's at East Langdon, their refurbished organ was put to good use! 

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Ready for Easter at East Langdon
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It was lovely to see flowers back in the church - it is amazing how they make such a difference, we really miss them when they are not present.  The family communion service was really uplifting, the children are always such a welcome presence (and always bring the comedy element to the morning!), and we raised the roof with "Thine be the Glory", that wonderful traditional Easter anthem.  Let us hope that our celebration of resurrection and new life will give us all pause to see where we can bring a new impetus to our own lives and those close to us.
                                                 


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Thanks to everyone who made The Friends' Coffee Morning on the 9th April such as success.  It was a busy morning, with around 60 people attending, and raised a magnificent £170 !  With the Bring & Buy stall, a generous raffle and tea and coffee made to perfection, it was a very enjoyabvle way to spend a Saturday morning after getting the papers!

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A big thank you to everyone who helped out at our Mothering Sunday Children's Craft Morning in St Margaret's church this Saturday 2nd April 2011.  Even though it was called the "childrens'"  craft morning, the adults got stuck in and had a jolly good time too!  Whilst the ladies were making up the lovely posies for the Mothering Sunday Service (and didn't they smell wonderful!), with help from little hands, the craft tables were busy with people having a go at all sorts of things - some beautiful cards were being made, Rosie and Verity were giving expert instructions on how to make waterlilies out of serviettes, George was keeping order at the Hearts & Flowers table, some lovely felt flower badges were sewn together and Rebecca did a tremendous job marshalling the production of the magnificent frieze now on display in the childrens' corner.

With a break for a story from Diane, tea and delicious cake (as always) courtesy of Wendy Rogers, it was a thoroughly successful and sociable morning.  Thanks must also go to St Margaret's Fire Station for the loan of their tables, without which it would be very difficult to hold these craft mornings - and of course to everyone who attended, we hope you enjoyed yourselves!

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Preparing the posies


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Crowd control at the frieze table!
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Alexander and the girls with his waterlily.







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Our frieze had the theme of "One World, One Family" and depicts the world surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes, made from all sorts of papers and fabrics - pretty much how we find ourselves, really.













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Delicious fresh-made pancakes were eagerly enjoyed at the March Saturday Service (Saturday 5th March 2011).  With the theme of Lent, we thought about Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness, what it must have felt like to be without home comforts, and had a little quiz to show how many times that number "40" occurs in the Bible.  We talked about the basic nature of the ingredients in pancakes and what, when we strip back all the excessive trappings of our lives, are the basic qualities that we all need to share.  

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Everyone wrote down their thoughts, cut them out and stuck them on to our display.  There were some really thoughtful comments - to their credit, our Saturday Service crowd have a wonderful knack of taking our craft time far beyond what was originally conceived!


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Candlemas was the theme of our February Saturday Service (Saturday 5th February 2011).  The children were asked to imagine what it would have been like for Mary and Joseph travelling to Jerusalem on a donkey with a tiny baby, and how scary and confusing they would have found all the recent happenings - being visited by shepherds and Kings, going to the temple and having two elderly people tell you that your little baby was going to save the world!  We talked about blessing candles for the coming year, Jesus being the Light, and seasonal topics - did you know that an alternative name for snowdrops is Candlemas Bells?  

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We then had a go at creating a poster to show that we can all be candles to light the way, just as Jesus had done, and you can see this in the children's corner of the church!



     









              
        

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The numbers are swelling for our Saturday Service!  We had a really lovely time this morning (8th January 2011) talking to the children about Epiphany, what it means and how it is celebrated.  The children (and grown-up's!) enjoyed being Kings, everyone helped to make our "We Three Kings" display, which you can see displayed in the children's corner, and Camilla Harley taught us all a lovely Epiphany song to the tune of "Here we go round the Mulberry bush".  I am sure she will teach you it if you want to know the words!  A quiet prayer was followed by well earned refreshments, to finish off a really rewarding session. 

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The Cribside Service on Christmas Eve was a wonderful event, bringing together a congregation of more than 300 to raise the roof with carols and joyful anticipation of Christmas Day.  With the church packed to the rafters, the candle-lit singing of Away in a Manger was absolutley lovely.  It really made one imagine the countless Christmas Eve services of past times, which would have all been candle-lit, and wonder what hopes, dreams and anticipations of past congregations might have been absorbed into the stonework of our church.  

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The children had a wonderful time on Tuesday 21st December decorating the Christmas tree in St Margaret's church.  What may have been lacking in artistic appreciation was more than made up for in sheer enthusiasm, but I hope you will agree, the end result was really lovely to behold!
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A wonderful candlelit scene really captured the magic of 
Christingle today (12th December) at St Margaret's church.  The worship songs were sung with great gusto and the Christmas spirit of Light out of Darkness really came alive.  It has always been a particular favourite service of mine from childhood, and when it is as enjoyable as this one was, I am sure it will remain with all the youngsters throughout their lives as well.  The hot tea and coffee after the service were particularly welcomed on this chilly morning, and helped the mince pies go down a treat!

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The 31st Annual Cheese and Wine Lunch and Get-together for The Friends of  St. Peters was held at Walletts Court, Westcliffe on Sunday 21st November 2010.  Some 70 Friends and guests attended the event which was very successful both socially and financially, and resulted in a profit of £530.00 for the Appeal.

The Friends of St. Peter’s Appeal was formed in 1979 by the then Vicar, The Rev. Stephen Easter, because we had just received the Quinquennial Survey and Report on the fabric of the Church, and this detailed some urgent repairs and maintenance that were required, and we did not have the funds to have the work carried out.

The Appeal was launched at a cheese and wine lunch at Walletts Court, and this annual event has continued ever since.  We cannot thank Chris and Lea Oakley enough for all the help and support we have received over the years.  Chris and Lea also organised the flood-lighting of the Church over the Christmas and new year period since it started several years ago.

With the help from the Friends and also some grants from The Four Churches Trust we have been able to carry out the repairs and maintenance to the building and today we can say that it is in a good state of repair.  Of course, the care and upkeep of an ancient building is ongoing and so the interest and financial assistance given by the Friends is just as important today as it was in 1979.

So, if there is anyone who would like to join the Friends, or who would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact myself, Brenda Lester our other Church Warden, or Claire Coles our Treasurer.

Ted Finnis
(Thank you so much Ted for the write-up!  It sounds like a great lunch)
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Did you get to the Bowls Club Christmas Craft Fair last Saturday (20th November)?  If not, you missed a treat, a real village event, and most of the residents seemed to be there!  There were a great variety of quality stalls, selling everything from jewellery to bird boxes, cakes to Christmas cards.  People made a real day of it, staying for lunch as well.  Hazel and Cyril would like to extend a big "thank you" to the Bowls Club for letting them have a table to sell the Church tea towels and bags - trade was certainly brisk!  It really was a very successful event, particularly for the charities it was supporting, so let's hope the Bowls Club can organise one again for 2011.
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Informality and friendship were the key ingredients to our first Saturday Service, held this morning, 6th November 10.30am at St Margaret's church.  It is always great to see the young people of the benefice feeling so at home in our ancient place of worship.  It must surely have borne witness to a huge variety of services and celebrations over the years.  The theme was remembrance, and children and grown-ups alike were invited to stick poppy petals onto one large poppy shape, each one representing a person, place or memory that was special to them.  The finished poppy will remain in the church for the remembrance season.  We were also reminded of Jesus's love for us all and the value of being peacemakers, especially when war is so often in the headlines.  After short prayers, we finishing off with drinks and some excellent biscuits - it was a rewarding addition to a Saturday morning!

Our next Saturday event will be on the 4th December in the Village Hall at Coffee & Carols, with the Advent Craft Workshop in the Channel Room.
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On the 10th October members of St Margaret’s Church and St Augustine’s East Langdon gathered in St Margaret's Village Hall for what turned out to be an excellent Harvest Brunch.

A team led by Sandy Liggins provided nearly 60 of us with bacon rolls, boiled eggs, croissants and selection of cheeses etc all topped off with the most delicious fruity yoghurt.

It really was quite a feast with all credit to Sandy and her helpers.  

Since this event was unable to go ahead last year, plenty of people made their bookings early to ensure a place at the table this year!

Although the Harvest Brunch is not intended to be a fundraiser, due to the prudent purchasing by Sandy it did finish up with a profit of £130 which can be put back into good works for the benefice.

In our villages we are very fortunate in that we have quite a number of folk who are prepared to organise such occasions which, apart from the fundraising, provide an opportunity for people to gather for what always turn out to be excellent social occasions.

(Thank you to roving reporter George Sutcliffe!)

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On Saturday 9th October George Sutcliffe was the genial host  for the Coffee Morning in aid of the Mission to Seafarers at Honeybee Cottage.  Despite the rather gloomy weather, and, thanks to the generosity of all who attended, a magnificent £475 was raised for the charity.  A fantastic total, and, of course, the charity is always open to further donations, just contact George.

A big thank you to all who came along.
George Sutcliffe

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Saturday 2nd October 2010

What a fantastic time we have just had, at our Harvest Craft Morning 
in St Margaret's Church!  The children and adults alike had a marvellous time making scarecrows, harvest angels, pine cone animals and all sorts of other things.  We now have a fabulous harvest banner on display in the children's corner - make sure you come and have a look, it really is a work of art, as you can see from our photos:-
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Hard at work, designing and sticking - the children really have fantastic imaginations!






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The finished item!  The detail that has been put into the fields is really tremendous, everyone should be very proud of their contributions.

The lavender in the harvest posies smelt lovely, and, on the same table, our pine cone animals were a great exercise in ingenuity - who would have known that a humble pine cone could be a bird, a mouse, a hedgehog, a rabbit and even a peacock!

Harvest_Craft_Morning_Oct_2010_005The harvest mice will be hidden in the decorations around the church - come to our Harvest Festival service on the 10th October to see if you can find them!








We were extremely pleased to see so many children and parents having such a great time, a community coming together for an event is a very special thing.  We had a break halfway through the morning when the Rev Diane gathered the children together at the alter steps to read the story of Manna from Heaven, and it gave the adults time for a cup of tea (and let the glue dry!).  Then after batteries were recharged with a drink and a biscuit, it was all hands on deck again as the children carried on with their works of art.

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Intense concentration at the Scarecrow & Harvest Basket table!






Of course, like so many things, this event wouldn't have been possible without a collection of volunteers, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following:-
Rev Diane, Barbara Wells, Charlotte and Martha Ford, Rebecca Simcox, Doreen Stone (excellent tea), Wendy Rogers (delicious cake), St Margaret's Fire & Rescue for the loan of the tables, any one else who helped make the day happen, and, of course, everyone who donated wooden spoons following our cry for help - without you there would be no scarecrows!

Thank you all.