On Sunday 12th May, it was announced that I am to leave the Benefice of Mereworth and West Peckham during this summer, to take up an appointment in the Parish of South Gillingham.
Similar to any military posting, to change jobs as a minister in the church, requires also a house move to the house belonging to the next post. The job is classified as “tied accommodation”, even though ministers do not enjoy the benefits awarded to military tied accommodation, such as school placements etc. We are currently waiting for news on a new house, which is in the process of being purchased for that church, and will be able to share details as we know them. My last service in the benefice will be on Sunday 4th August, and times and details of that service will be made public closer to the date.
In the past seven years I have faced many challenges in my ministry and met exceptionally good people. I was licensed to minister in the benefice and to work collaboratively with David Green in developing the presence of the Church of England on Kings Hill. We did this together for several years, and during this time the congregation of St Gabriel’s chose its name and established itself in a new venue which allowed for Sunday schools and more flexible use of the space, as well as working more closely with the 1st Kings Hill Girls’ Brigade, which continues to be very successfully run by Karen Webber and her many helpers and deputies. The church grew significantly under our guidance, and allowed us to make the case for a full-time minister to be appointed to Kings Hill. We fought hard to make this happen and were delighted when, after four rounds of interviews, we found the ideal candidate in Mark, who has lead St Gabriel’s since then. I also worked closely with the Mereworth and Kings Hill Scout Group, and am on the Executive of that group. Having moved around different parishes and Scouts Groups, I am extremely impressed at the quality of the leaders of the Mereworth and Kings Hill Scout Group and the attached “William Warriors Explorer Group”, and the dedication of the leaders to making that group so successful is outstanding and humbling in equal measure.
In Mereworth church, having had unsuccessful attempts to run Sunday School and a Toddler Group, we started a Children’s Choir, which has run uninterrupted since September 2013. Again, it is the dedication of the parents and volunteers which have made this group a thriving place, with 27 children attending weekly rehearsals under the enthusiastic direction of Mr Stephen Thomas who comes from Leybourne. Children from all the local villages and schools come together to learn how to sing, project their voices, overcome fears of performing in public by leading the worship in church once a month and twice a year prepare a musical or drama performance for the community.
The church in West Peckham continues to be a hub of village life, and is supported in many and varied ways by the whole village, while the church plays a crucial part in village life, hosting resident’s christenings, weddings and funerals.
Both churches are charities, and rely entirely on the donations of people and the willingness of volunteers to run any programme. It has been a great privilege to work alongside so many talented, skilled, wise and caring people in my time here, and to walk with people through times of great joys and deepest sadness as I have officiated at weddings, christenings and funerals, to pray with people in times of vulnerability and rejoicing, and to walk with people through crossroads in their lives.
God’s timings are not our times, and as a family we step forwards in the knowledge and certainty that He guides us at all times.
I hope to see many of you at one of the two village fetes (15th June and 6th July) or at the upcoming Cream Teas which will be offered in Mereworth throughout July and August, every Sunday 2.30-5pm, or at one of the many weddings taking place over the summer in the two churches.
Rev’d Pat Dickin,
Priest-in-Charge Mereworth with West Peckham
01622 814568 – email@example.com