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- the “Year of the Church” in Lenham
Throughout this year, 2004, St Mary’s church in
Lenham will be celebrating a Christian presence in the village for no
fewer than 1200 years. There is evidence of a church in Lenham in the
year 804AD and we plan a year-long celebration of:
A number of events are already firmly planned and others are shaping up; our aim is to reach out to the whole community in this tremendous celebration. And these celebrations are by no means exclusive to Lenham; we plan to involve the communities around us to join with us in our celebrations. This includes particularly our sister churches in the Len Valley Benefice: Boughton Malherbe, Ulcombe and Harrietsham, together with fellow Christians of other denominations, notably of the United Reformed Church in Lenham.
The month of May is when several of the most intensive activities will commence. The Kent Police Choir has been booked for a concert in St Mary’s on Saturday 15th May and on Sunday 16th May, the Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Graham Cray, is to preach at the Sunday service. The Bishop will be preaching at the culmination of a preaching series on Outreach which is taking place in all the benefice churches in the New Year, as we very much want to bring YOUR church to the forefront of the community. The Bishop’s visit will be launching a series of activities in Lenham over the week that follows, designed to draw the attention of as many people as possible to the realities of God’s love for them; more details on that week are to follow.
A real high point in our celebrations comes the following month when, on Sunday 6th June, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be coming to St Mary’s! Some three years ago, when we were first formulating ‘Celebration 2004', we wrote to invite the Archbishop to make a visit at some time during that year. When Archbishop Rowan Williams was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, we wrote again to reinforce our invitation. It has been confirmed that he will be with us on Sunday 6th June 2004.
The very next week, on Saturday 12th June, we have the Rt Hon Ann Widecombe MP coming to deliver the Annual Lecture of the Friends of Kent Churches. The Saturday after that, on 19th June, we have a repeat of this year’s highly successful Four Churches Sponsored Walk around the churches of the benefice. So June is particularly action-packed! In the autumn we plan to have a Flower Festival and to round off the year there will be special Christmas services.
In December last, just before Christmas, as a first step in Celebration 2004, the Church was presented with a special 1200 Year Commemorative Banner which is the result of a project led by Swadelands School. You may know that in 2002, the Royal Golden Jubilee Year, Swadelands also celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. In recognition of those joint-jubilees, the school sponsored the first of two banner-making projects, both of which now stand proudly in St Mary’s.
Whether or not you live in Lenham, whether or not you come to church, we want to invite you to share in all these celebrations. God’s love isn’t limited to any one place or group of people, and so YOU are warmly invited to share with us as we celebrate:
God’s faithfulness to the people of Lenham
for 1200 years!
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