Saturday, February 22, 2020

Messy Church tomorrow

Come and join us for Messy Church tomorrow afternoon.

Ash Wednesday

"In their own words" Lent Daily Reflections

Join us this Lent for forty daily reflections focusing on our church's Patron Saints, Peter and Paul. 

The first twenty reflections follow St Peter’s story through the Gospel and the Book of Acts, and the second twenty are words from the seven letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament which are generally regarded as authentically written by him.

The reflections will appear here day by day from Ash Wednesday (Feb 26) , or you can pick up a booklet in church or download one here .

For more information about Lent at Seal Church, including our Lent Groups, on Monday evenings at 8pm or Wednesday mornings at 10.30pm, which will explore stories in Peter and Paul's life, our "Friends on the Journey", and two trips to the V& A to explore the way in which the stories of the saints have been important to past generations, see here. 

Lent at Seal Church - an introduction

“Friends on the journey”

This year’s Lent groups at Seal Church will be exploring the stories of our Patron Saints, Peter and Paul, and thinking about the ways in which saints can be “friends on the journey” for us, encouraging and inspiring us.
Everyone’s welcome to join our Lent Groups on:

Monday evenings 8 – 9.30pm from March 2
Or Wednesday morning 10.30 – 12 noon from March 4
(but not Wed March 18)

There will be four sessions, and both groups will cover the same material.
Venue: Seal Vicarage   Leader: Anne Le Bas

Places are limited to 14 per group, so reserve your place as soon as possible, by signing the list in church or emailing Anne Le Bas (

“In their own words”, exploring Peter and Paul through the words the Bible records as their own.
From Ash Wednesday (Feb 26)  on this blog and on Facebook and Twitter. There is also a printed version in church, and it can be downloaded here. 

Lent Outing – Exploring the saints at the V & A museum

Thursday March 19th,
Saturday March 28th

Join us for a trip to the V & A museum to look at their wealth of exhibits which tell the stories of how Christians have expressed and experience their sense of the saints as “friends on the journey”. I’ll be telling some of the stories of the saints as we go around, and talking about some of the exhibits.

The two trips will be identical, so don’t book in for both! Anyone is welcome, whether or not they come to one of the Lent Groups, and while I won’t specifically be aiming it at children, they are very welcome to come along too if you think they will enjoy it.

On both days we will meet at Sevenoaks Station at 9.15 am (9.29 train to Charing Cross, then tube from Embankment to South Kensington) We will set off on the return journey from the V & A at about 2pm. Bring a packed lunch, or buy something there.
If you would like to meet us there, you are welcome to travel independently. We aim to start the tour at 11 am. You will need to buy your own train tickets. Admission to the V & A is free.
 Please sign the list in church or let me know by email if you would like to come. Places are limited to 12 for each trip, so please sign up early!

Friends on the Journey

You may remember that I spent some of last year on sabbatical, researching the way communities celebrate their saints, and inevitably that made me think of our own Patron saints, Peter and Paul. That’s why, this year, our Lent courses are going to look at the lives of these two founding fathers of the Christian faith.

I’ve discovered that dedications to Peter and Paul are common in this part of the world. There are 17 churches with this dedication, by my count, in the Diocese of Rochester, second only in number to those dedicated to Mary. There’s a reason for that. The church in the south east of England was re-founded in 597 by St Augustine, who’d been sent from Rome by Pope Gregory. He brought with him a particular devotion to Saints Peter and Paul because they were the patron saints of Rome itself. According to ancient tradition, both had been martyred there around 64 AD, killed by the emperor Nero. Some stories say St Peter was crucified, upside down, while others say that he was burned to death, along with many other Christians who had been rounded up after Nero blamed them for a fire which had destroyed much of the city. St Paul was traditionally said to have been beheaded – he was a Roman citizen and therefore entitled to this swifter death – which is why his symbol is a sword. His head was said to have bounced three times, and three springs allegedly welled up on the spots where it struck the ground, now commemorated at the church of San Paolo alle Tre Fontane – St Paul of the Three Fountains. Believe it if you will! When the Roman Empire eventually embraced Christianity many centuries later, its leaders looked around for suitable saints to replace their two pagan founders, Romulus and Remus, and Peter and Paul seemed an obvious choice – not twins, but brothers in faith. Maybe they were even an improvement. After all, Romulus had killed Remus. Peter and Paul didn’t always agree, but had never, as far as we know, come to blows!

They had both started their lives far from Rome, though, and had very different journeys of faith. Peter, originally called Simon, a Galilean fisherman, had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Jesus had told him that he would be given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven”, the authority to open the gates to others who wanted to share in this new community. That’s why he is very often pictured with keys, his saintly symbol. Paul had never known Jesus personally at all, and had been violently opposed to the new movement that had arisen after his crucifixion, which proclaimed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. It seemed like dangerous nonsense to him. But, on a mission to root out another Christian “cell” he’d heard of in Damascus, he’d been thrown to the ground by a bright light and had heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him.  Much to his surprise, having come to the conclusion that he’d got it completely wrong about Jesus, he was forgiven and accepted by the Christians he had been persecuting, and spent his life travelling around the Mediterranean drawing together groups of believers into small house churches, writing letters, some of which survive and are included in the Bible.

Peter and Paul were very different in background, in outlook, and often in their opinions. In the few stories we have of them meeting, they argue fiercely about the form this new community of faith should take, and yet both ended up being honoured and respected. They are often pictured embracing, as above, or holding a church between them – sometimes rather uneasily! Despite, or perhaps because of their differences, they were both important. In a world where we often struggle to live with diversity, where compromise can be a dirty word, these are excellent patron saints for us to learn from, people who argued their positions robustly, but clung equally strongly to the message they had received from Jesus that every person is beloved of God, God’s child, with differing gifts that the whole body needs if it is to thrive. Come and join us at our Lent groups, or follow the daily posts which will focus on what they tell us about themselves “In their own words,” and let Peter and Paul become “Friends on the Journey” for you this Lent.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday - Feb 26 this year. We will be marking it with our Ash Wednesday Communion service at 8pm, when we will have the opportunity to receive the sign of the cross in ash on our foreheads, as a sign of our mortality and fallibility.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Tomorrow evenings Evensong (Feb 9) cancelled

Owing to the apocalyptic weather forecast for the afternoon and evening of this Sunday, Feb 9, I have decided to CANCEL the 6.30pm Evensong service.

The 10 am morning service will take place, but please don't take any risks to come, even if you are on the rota to do somethingWe will manage!

I don't want anyone to take the risk of travelling to the evening service, however, and I know that some people will be determined to do so if the service is on! (This simple, said service using the lovely old words of the Book of Common Prayer is a beautiful end to the day - if you've never tried it, come along and join us on any other 2nd, 4th or 5th Sunday evening!)

Here's one of the prayers from the evening service to use as the wind howls around us, remembering especially those who may have no option but to be outside in the storm; those who are homeless, the emergency services and those whose travel is essential.

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Stay safe!
Canon Anne Le Bas (vicar) 

Friday, February 07, 2020

Thursday, January 09, 2020

January News from Rochester Diocese

Thursday 9 January 2020

Happy New Year! Welcome to the first edition of Rochester Diocese's monthly e-newsletter in 2020.
Events and Training

Finding God in the everyday 

With the start of a New Year, are you looking for a new approach to finding and following God?

On the 12 January, The Church of England launches 'Everyday Faith'. A series of reflections and prayers shared over 21 days, to help us all find and follow God in everyday life. 

To tie in with this, three new films have been produced to highlight the Diocesan-wide Life Together initiative. Like #EverydayFaith, it aims to help deepen relationships with God across the Diocese, by encouraging 
a rhythm of listening, commitment and regular prayer, inspired by Benedictine spirituality.

Watch all three films here, or look out for them on our social media channels over the coming weeks.

We'll also be highlighting stories of #EverydayFaith throughout the year too, as part of our committment to Grow Disciples, as expressed in our shared Called Together vision.

Watch this space!

Diocesan Update
All you need to know this month from the Diocese and National Church

'We need a decade that warms our rapidly cooling relationships.'  As we begin a new year, Bishop Simon Burton-Jones considers what needs to define the decade ahead. Read more
We'll be joining in with the national church's, Care for God's Creation, Lent materials this year. A series of films throughout Lent will highlight local church eco-initiatives. Get ready. Sign-up for daily reflections or order material here
On 23 February, the environmentalist, theologian and author of Archbishop Justin's 2020 Lent Book, Dr Ruth Valerio, will give a lecture following her installation service Canon Theologian at Rochester Cathedral. All welcome. More here
Churches across the Diocese are invited to test a new tool to help them measure their carbon footprint. Designed by the national Research and Statistics team, it is available through the Online Parish Returns System. More here
The deadline is fast approaching to apply for grants from the Church of England for fabric repairs  and the conservation of paintings and wall paintings. The deadline is 27 January. More here

The search for Britain's best church magazine is on. The Association for Church Editors, is now welcoming entries from any church magazine, large or small but not printed in colour. Closing date 3 February. For details, email:

Want to get more out of your churchyard as an educational resource, a place to nurture bio-diversity and more? 2020 is the Year of the Burial Ground. For a host of resources, as well as the different ways you can get involved, click here

News in brief
Stories from around the parishes

Parishes tackle domestic abuse
Raising awareness of domestic abuse across the Diocese. Read more
South Gillingham goes live
First steps with Facebook Live prove positive. Read more

Events and Training

For more local and Diocesan events, visit our What's On Calendar. Add your own event too. You can also explore the full range of courses and events available at:
  • St. Benedict's Centre here
  • St. Augustine's College of Theology here
  • The Diocese of Rochester's Spiriitualty Network here
  • For listings of forthcoming Safeguarding training, click here
Saturday 18 January, 1pm to 4pm
Bessels Green Baptist Church, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, TN13 2PS.

Help end modern slavery in your community. A day for anyone who wants to learn more about modern slavery, how to spot the signs and how best to respond to it locally.

Parking will be available at Riverhead Infants School, Worships Hill, Riverhead, Sevenoaks, TN13 2AS.

Free of charge. Please bring your own packed lunch and refreshments will be provided. Full disabled access, including an accessible toilet. 
Saturday 1 February - 10am to 4pm
Companions of Christ, 65 Maidstone Road, Chatham, ME4 6DP

For the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, come and watch a full-length feature film that deals with matters we are presented with in life, and asks what it means for us to live in the present. The film is in German, with subtitles.

Come with an open mind and a readiness to use your imagination. Some Ignatian exercises will be used to explore scenes from the film.

Please bring a packed lunch, drinks will be provided. Email:
Saturday 1 February, 4pm

St Matthew’s, South Gillingham, ME8 0NX
An opportunity to remember and to pray for those living in the Holy Land in the 21st century, with pictures and recent reporting back from the land.

Whether you consider yourself to be well informed or only slightly aware, you are invited to come along and be updated on the current situation, and to learn of the work of Friends of the Holy Land, who give practical support to our brothers and sisters in need.

Email: Brian:
22 February, 1pm to 5.30pm
St. George's, Beckenham

An event aiming to bring together people of BAME heritage from the local church to talk about vocation in the Church of England.

Be inspired in your vocational journey, be equipped with knowledge about the various ministries in the Church and be informed about the current state of BAME vocations nationally.

Speakers include, Rosemarie Davidson-Gotobed, National Advisor of BAME Vocations for the Church of England.
For more details and booking click here


Top resources to support you in your work, life and faith - or just to share with others.
The 15th Lambeth Conference takes place in July. To mark this, the Anglican Communion will be featuring blogs each week written by Primates of the Anglican Communion, to introduce their Provinces, set out prayer pointers, and help us learn more about our worldwide family. More here
Digital offers us a unique opportunity to meet people where they are. Is your church ready to make the most of this incredible tool in 2020? The national Digital Team has collated a list of online trends they think churches should be exploring over the next 12 months. Read it here

Vision and aims

RESOURCE: Administration & Support – ‘Making it Easier’ Make it easier for parishes to work with the Diocese Office and legal requirements

As a Diocese we take our safeguarding responsibilities seriously and we are committed to ensuring that our churches and buildings are safe places for all.

A new quarterly safeguarding bulletin, aimed primarily at Parish Safeguarding Officers, Incumbents and Church Wardens where a parish is in vacancy, has recently been launched.

Through these regular bulletins, we hope to keep those with a particular parish responsibility for safeguarding up to date with the latest safeguarding developments from the national church and the Diocese, as well as support and affirm them in this vital area of work.

Find it here

If you need safeguarding advice please visit our safeguarding pages at:

Vacancies and appointments
Archdeaconry of Bromley & Bexley
Archdeaconry of Rochester
Lay and volunteer posts
Archdeaconry of Tonbridge
Volunteer & other posts
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