St Margaret of Antioch, Barming


The Parish of St Margaret, Barming looks forward to welcoming a new Rector who will enjoy being part of our community and who will lead us forward as we seek to offer Christian worship, witness, pastoral care and practical service to those round about in this attractive yet busy part of West Kent.

We hope that you will enjoy reading this profile about our parish. You will discover that:
• Christian worship began over 900 years
• An iconic and ancient parish church has acquired some very modern and creative facilities
• We have a broad range of worship services
• We are blessed with trained lay leaders and committed volunteers
• We value the young and the not so young
• We have active links with the local school
• Fun and celebration feature large in our parish life
• Our parish embraces both town and countryside
• Our parish church and our mission church are for all in the community

1 The Parish

The parish of Barming lies 2½ miles to the south-west of Maidstone on the road to Tonbridge which runs through the village. It has a semi rural aspect with a population of about 6000, in the ecclesiastical parish, consisting of all age groups. There is easy access to the M20 motorway making London and the coast less than an hour away by car. Although close to Maidstone it still has its village identity.

We have, in the village, the parish church to the south-east and a daughter church, Longsole Mission Church, which serves the north of the parish, a primary school, a small parade of shops, a post office, three public houses, two recreation grounds, two elderly people’s complexes and a railway station. All the usual services, such as banks, dentists, doctors’ surgeries, chemists and solicitors, can be found on the way into Maidstone. Barming and Maidstone East railway stations serve Victoria and Charing Cross is served by Paddock Wood or East Farleigh.

2 The Church

The parish is in the rural deanery of Malling within the Diocese of Rochester. We have an electoral roll of 136.

The parish church is a 12th century Norman building, highly visible, in the very picturesque setting of the Medway valley. Without losing sight of its primary function of bringing God into village life, the church now lends itself to a number of community functions such as concerts and film shows as it has the advantage of a good sound system.

The churchyard is open for burials of parish residents and there is a memorial area for cremated remains. This, together with the building, is cared for by a strong team of volunteers.

We have an average of 86 adults and 12 children for our Sunday services. We had, in 2011, 16 weddings which was above our average of 12 a year. There were also two services of Prayer and Dedication after civil weddings. We have 15 to 20 funerals a year.

We have a policy which welcomes children from the wider community and sometimes from outside the parish. Although we do not insist on it, we encourage the parents to be part of the congregation. In fact, there are families who attend regularly whose initial contact was a baptism. The marriage of couples where one or both are divorced may take place on occasions, but Church guidelines are followed in this matter. Under authorisation from the Bishop, children who have been baptised can be prepared for admission to Holy Communion prior to Confirmation. We would wish to see this practice continue.

There are five Bible study and Teaching, Learning and Caring (TLC) groups in the parish. They meet at regular intervals to study the bible and discuss a wide range of subjects to cover individual needs.

Baptisms are usually held after the 10.00am service but can be held during the actual service.

The All Age service, on the third Sunday, is organised and led by lay people.

Coffee, tea and biscuits are provided after every service, which gives a friendly atmosphere to the end of the service and encourages everyone to stay and chat and get to know one another.

3 Pattern of Worship

In terms of worship, St. Margaret’s could be described as middle of the road, with a recent leaning towards an evangelical style. Robes and liturgical colours appropriate to seasons or feasts are used and other traditions are observed. There is a robed choir and organ for communion services. A more informal style of worship is used for family and all age services.

The pattern of worship is as follows:

1st Sunday

8.30 am BCP Holy Communion (Robed)

10.00 am Family Worship (Informal)

6.00 pm Evening Prayer at Longsole

2nd Sunday

10.00 am Parish Communion (Robed)

6.00 pm Evening Prayer at Longsole

3rd Sunday

8.30 am BCP Holy Communion (Robed)

10.00 am All Age Worship (Informal)

6.00 pm Evening Prayer at Longsole

4th Sunday

10.00am Parish Communion (Robed)

6.00 pm Evening Prayer at Longsole

5th Sunday

8.30 am BCP Holy Communion (Robed)

10.00 am Healing Service

3.30 pm Hospice Service

In addition there are several major services each year. At Christmas there is the service of Nine Lessons and Carols and Midnight Mass as well as the Crib and Christingle services for families. On Good Friday we have a procession of the Cross from our Mission church, through a large housing estate, to the Church, as well as a devotional service. The Remembrance Day service is well attended, at the War Memorial, by local organisations and the community as a whole.

4 Lay Ministry

We have one Reader, with another in training, three Pastoral Assistants and two Churchwardens. The recent incumbent encouraged and supported this team and the Reader and Reader in training take an active part in the services.

5 Support Team

There is a strong and active PCC and Standing Committee. In addition there is a ‘small army’ of volunteers who undertake all the large and small tasks, such as flower arranging, cleaning the church and keeping the churchyard tidy, which are so necessary for the smooth running of our church.

6 Music and Bells

An organist plays at the parish communion services. We have a small but enthusiastic choir which takes part in the usual traditional services. There is an active brass band and a wind and strings group and these provide the music in the more informal family and all age worship services which are held on the first and third Sundays in the month. Bells are rung before services several times a month.

7 Mission Partners

We have an overseas Mission Committee which is responsible for raising funds to support four overseas missions. They are:

• The Delhi Brotherhood, with whom we have had contact over a long period, and we have a long term commitment with them to pay for the education of two children.

• Sister Christobel, who does excellent work among the poor in Mumbai and Goa.

• CMS with whom we have a Mission Partner, Dr. Corrie Verduyn, and we raise funds to support her work at Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda.

• The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, which brings children to visit us here in England to help extend their lives.

Every two years there is an exchange trip to or from our link church in the former East Berlin.

8 Financial situation

Although we are a relatively small parish, like many other parishes we find the financial side of life a bit of a struggle, we pride ourselves in the fact that we have totally met all of our financial commitments, which include the stipend, pension and parish share.

We believe that this is down to the sensible management of our resources by the PCC. Our philosophy is to restrict expenditure wherever possible to reduce costs but not to affect the mission and outreach of the church. We accept that we need a stewardship campaign, and we will shortly be starting the groundwork for this but await the installation of our new incumbent and his/her input and blessing before actually initiating the process.

9 Wider Church Activities

Caring in the Community

This aspect of the Church is growing with the establishment of a committee which meets once a month to discuss various schemes. A neighbourhood prayer scheme is being developed to ascertain individual and family prayer needs, which are then mentioned in one of our services. There is also a Church Neighbour scheme designed to help the more vulnerable in the community. Many of our parishioners serve voluntarily and on the staff of the local hospital.

Children’s and Youth Groups

• A baby and toddler group, run by church members, meets on Wednesday afternoons in the village hall, in the north of the village.

• The Sunday Club meets every Sunday except for the first Sunday in the month when we have a popular Family Service. They have a variety of activities, games, making things, Bible readings and stories and, of course, prayers.

•The Smoothies youth group, led by our own youth leader, meets weekly for children of year 6 and upwards. They have various activities including Bible discussion. They also organise the fireworks on November 5th

• A Kingsquad group is run by church members in conjunction with the Family Trust at the local primary school.

Although not directly attached to the church, there is an active Scout and Guide group in the parish.

Adult Groups

The Men’s Group meets informally and organises events such as Go Cart racing. They are at present in the middle of a project to repaint the outside of Longsole Mission church and are offering DIY and gardening help to those in the local community who are not able to undertake these tasks on their own.

The Supper Group organises a meal with a speaker, at a local hotel, every three or four months. These are popular meetings which are well supported by the congregation. The speakers come from all walks of life and usually have a basis that is Christian and charitable.

The Yellow Wellies are a gardening group which meet every Monday and keeps the churchyard in a pristine condition. Visitors often comment on the attractive aspect of the churchyard.

The Families Group meets regularly and organises events such as a yearly barbeque and a lantern walk to the church in the run up to Christmas.

The Mothers Union meets once a month for prayers followed by a talk or activity. The talks have been on a variety of subjects including trips to Antarctica and Israel and the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Group. At Easter and Christmas the talks and activities are centred on these themes.

The Friends of St. Margaret’s is a group set up to support the Church with fund raising events. They have organised a number of events such as Antiques Valuation, concerts, a Garden Safari, sponsored gardening at The Leonard Cheshire Disability Home and wine tasting. The funds raised have made an important contribution to the upkeep of the church building and the churchyard.

The Lunch Club meets each month at a local public house for an informal lunch. This provides a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with no specific agenda to discuss.

10 Events

The social committee organises popular events such as the Summer and Christmas fetes. The Harvest Festival donations are auctioned after a well supported Harvest supper and the money raised is donated to charity groups.

Films are shown in the church using the big screen and these are supported by our local community.

Last year there was an organised parish trip to Israel which was enjoyed by all who took part.

The church has a comprehensive computerised sound and vision system and a television licence. This has been used to show films and sporting events. The Royal wedding, last year, was very effective on the large screen. These events have into the church people who are not regular churchgoers.

11 The Rectory

The Rectory was built about 30 years ago. The ground floor consists of an entrance hall, a large well lit study, living room, dining room, kitchen and utility room and a cloakroom. The study has an attached computer room. There is a door shutting off the rest of the house from the study and cloakroom. The first floor has four bedrooms, a bathroom and separate toilet. The house has central heating and the boiler was fairly recently replaced. There is a small and easily maintained garden.

12 Longsole

Longsole Mission Church is used for early morning communion services, weekly evening services, and the parish prayer group and choir practice.

13 Church Cross House

Church Cross House lies at the entrance of the lane leading to the Church. This acts as the church hall and is well used by the Mothers Union, the Sunday Club, the Smoothies youth group and some local groups. Most church meetings are held here. The building consists of one room with kitchen and toilet facilities.

14 We seek

A strong leader with a good understanding of people and strong sense of mission within the parish and abroad. He or she will need to balance the needs of a good group of young people, who are looking for a fresh approach to their worship, with the needs of the older members of the congregation, who prefer a more traditional approach to worship.

The new incumbent should bring skill and vision to use the parish resources, be they individuals or the Church itself, in order to develop sensitively the existing pattern of worship and the church’s prayer life.

There is a growing movement of pastoral care within the wider community; this also needs caring leadership to help it move forward. This aspect of the church’s role is growing in importance as there are many in the community who cannot due to illness or disability actually attend the church services.

There is a slight preference for a person who has had experience of life outside the church. This would help in understanding the problems facing many families in challenging circumstances.

In this technical age it would be an advantage if this person is ‘computer literate’ or at least not afraid of computers. A computer has recently been acquired for the parish and this is in a small computer room attached to the study.

Patience, a positive approach and a good sense of humour are needed.

15 We can offer

A warm welcome from the community where there is potential, in the position, for satisfaction and challenge. The challenge would come from increasing the already extensive links within the community. The satisfaction would come from leading the church community along new paths in their faith.

16 Schools

There is a primary school in the parish. There is a good variety of state funded and private schools in the area, among these are four grammar schools. The local primary school has a good relationship with the church. They have choirs, one of which has recently sung during a Sunday service.

Barming Primary School

Invicta Grammar School for Girls

Maplesden Noakes School

Oakwood Park Grammar School

St. Augustine’s Academy

Sutton Valence School

Maidstone Grammar School

Maidstone Girls Grammar School

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