Larkfield and East Malling
Larkfield and East Malling
Called to Love and Praise
Introducing the Revd Rosemary Pritchard
I'm delighted to introduce you to the Revd Rosemary Pritchard, who has generously agreed to offer cover when I am on maternity leave. If all goes to plan (!), my maternity leave will begin on Sunday 15 January, and I will be back with you on Monday 30 October 2023. Rosemary has recently arrived in our circuit - but, as you'll find out, she's no stranger to the area! I've asked Rosemary to introduce herself, so you can read all about her below. I'm sure you'll have the pleasure of meeting Rosemary in person soon, and that you'll make her very welcome in January.
Hello everyone – I’m Rosemary Pritchard, I was a German teacher before training for ministry and I’ve been a Methodist presbyter since 1997 – in fact my welcome service at Gerrards Cross (near Windsor, and at that time in the Hillingdon Circuit) was held the day of Princess Diana’s funeral. After 5 years in that appointment I went to the South Essex Circuit, which is actually the next-door Circuit North of here. I always value working with other churches too, so that together we can be a blessing to our communities. In Thurrock we had an evangelistic Youth mission, supported the Seafarers’ ministry on the Thames, hosted the Foodbank and the Thurrock Art Trail, to give four varied examples. I was there for 12 years during which time we saw the population of the Circuit become much more diverse and multicultural, and one of the churches I had the joy of serving latterly had lots of West African families – including a certain Ghanaian Local Preacher you might have met too.
This led to a trip to Ghana with a small group of Methodist ministers, led by the Rev William Davis, a minister from Ghana seconded to our Conference (who’d been Fred Yamoah’s Sunday School teacher back in Kumasi). William had told Grays Methodist that their minister would never be the same again. I don’t think he could have foreseen that on that trip God would stir up afresh a long-dormant sense of call to serve in Bible Translation. The Connexion was receptive to my sense of call into this work, and I did some specialist training with Wycliffe Bible Translators, spent 6 months in France resurrecting my A Level French and finally went to Burkina Faso in West Africa. I’ve written more about this for the Grapevine.
In the end I sadly gave up the idea of returning there after the pandemic, mainly because my parents are now very elderly. My mum (who enjoys the Keep Fit group at Spital Street) does a wonderful job of caring for dad at home, and it seemed only right to be around to help as needed. They live near Dartford, you see, which is where I grew up. I’m so thankful for my time at Dartford Grammar School for Girls which ignited my passion for languages. When I was a child, my granddad used to take me to Crayford or The Brent, and when it was Harvest he took me to Hartlip where he had grown up (though I went to a Sunday School run by Christchurch Dartford, which is why my Methodist connections in Kent are limited.)
I’d thought I might be becoming Supernumerary this year, but God seemed to have something else in store – and it meant I was available to stand in for Naomi when she takes her maternity leave.
A Warm welcome awaits visitors to our Warm Space in the Sycamore Tree.
We are a friendly, welcoming Church, of all ages with a membership of around 80, and many more in our wider Church family.
Our Church family comes mainly from the villages of Larkfield, East and West Malling, Kings Hill, Addington, Leybourne, Ditton and Aylesford, all of which are just west of the County town of Maidstone in Kent.
We enjoy worship in a variety of styles from traditional to modern, and our congregations usually include a wide variety of ages, from toddlers to octogenarians.
See our Services page for full details of in-person and on-line services and opportunities for worship.
It’s been a good week – I’m very thankful to have met some more of you lovely people, and to have had email contact with others. I celebrated my birthday by attending a very thoughtful service to round off the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at West Malling Baptist Church and was delighted to meet leaders from Larkfield Community Church as well as the Baptist pastor , and the incoming chair of Churches Together in Malling, Charlotte, who told me her husband is the Director of Music at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster – where the Superintendent minister, Tony Miles, became a friend when we travelled together on a ministers’ trip to Ghana exactly 10 years ago – a trip which led quite directly to my subsequent service in Burkina Faso. I love meeting other members of God’s family – they become just that: family.
So although it’s been a good week here for me, and I trust for you, my heart has been very heavy as news gets worse from the area where I spent 2 years in rural Southwest Burkina. I’ve heard from two dear brothers in Christ, one who was amongst the last in the village as threats to life itself became very real, one of whom is on a course in another African country training to be a consultant making a vital difference to mother-tongue literacy across the region – whose wife and four children were back there fleeing danger in that village I know and love.
So with these conflicting emotions – I share the Sending prayer from the Week of Prayer, from the earliest followers of St Francis:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor. Amen
in Christ Jesus
Rosemary (interim minister during Rev Naomi's maternity leave)
Positive Working Together - Saturday 4 February
The circuit is offering an opportunity for you to attend a training session entitled 'Growing through Change and Conflict' on Saturday 4 February from 10am until 3pm at Larkfield & East Malling Methodist Church. The attached flyer contains all the details: the training will offer the opportunity to consider our own personal responses to conflict, to discuss our experience of conflict within a small group, to explore how conflict escalates within a faith setting, and to consider some simple techniques to lower the level of the conflicts that we experience. Please contact Bonni-Belle with any questions: email@example.com
Natural Evangelism Course - Starting Sunday 16 April
Beginning on Sunday 16 April, Bart Woodhouse will be leading a six-session course at 5.30pm for anyone interested in building their skills and confidence in evangelism. The sessions will take place at Larkfield & East Malling Methodist Church. I know that many of you who took part in the 'Known & Loved' Mission Week earlier this year were delighted to find that speaking to people about faith doesn't have to be frightening, and that there are lots of different ways of sharing the good news. This is the perfect opportunity to continue to build on that experience with friends from across the circuit. Contact Bart with any questions, or to register your interest: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07361 253747
Dial-in service - Thursday 2nd February at 10am
Our dial-in service is now taking place monthly, at 10am on the first Thursday of the month. You are warmly invited to join us this morning, as we reflect together on the theme of Epiphany, through poetry, through Scripture, and through prayer. The details for joining from a phone or computer are as follows:
Step 1: At 10am dial 020 3481 5237 from a mobile or landline
Step 2: When requested, enter the Meeting ID 999 8764 3710 followed by #
Step 3: When requested, enter the Passcode 345080 followed by #
You do not need a 'Participant ID' - just press #
If you have a laptop, iPad or phone, you can also get into the service on these devices with just one click using the following link:
(In case you need it, the Meeting ID is: 999 8764 3710 and Passcode: 345080)
With Christmas behind us, many people in our local communities will be feeling the squeeze and worrying about their ever-increasing energy bills. Larkfield & East Malling Methodist Church (with its sister churches in Larkfield) and the Church in Burham (working together with All Saints, Wouldham) are now both offering Warm Spaces, with a warm welcome, hot drinks and light refreshments, friendly volunteers, and WiFi - all for free. It's always a warmer, more welcoming atmosphere when there are more people there - so even if you're not feeling too anxious about your heating bills, please do pop by for a cuppa and a chat!
Naomi (and family's) News Update
As it's a week since Abigail made her (somewhat speedy) entrance into the world, I wanted to be in touch to send you all an update (and some photos, of course).
All of us are well, and enjoying getting used to life as a family of four. Abi's first week has certainly been very different to Rachel's (when we were all under Tier 3 Covid restrictions). Over the past week, she's met her grandparents; been along to soft play, church and the library; read 'The Owl Who Came for Christmas' countless times with her big sister; and started learning Spanish and Ukrainian.
Thank you so much to everyone who's sent cards and gifts, or who has volunteered to make us a meal as part of Larkfield's Meal Train, especially if we haven't yet thanked you personally. Abigail is a very lucky little girl to be surrounded by so much love and care.
I hope there will be opportunities over the coming months to introduce many of you to Abigail in person. I'm grateful to all of you (and especially to Rev Rosemary) for all you are doing to cover for me in my absence, and for giving us these precious months to cherish Abigail and enjoy being a family of four. You all continue to be in my thoughts and prayers (particularly during the 4am feeds, when my prayers are somewhat muddled!).
Spreading the Word
In 2022 we had more than twice as many visits as 2021!
In 2021, 418 people visited the website 605 times for an average of 5 minutes 4 seconds.
In 2022, 721 people visited the website 1299 times for an average of 4minutes 59 seconds.
Visitors were from all parts of the UK, with multiple visits from US (30), Ireland (5), Nigeria (3) and Russia (2).
Popular pages visited were: