The present Parish Church of Elham, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, built of ragstone and flint, dates from 1170 to 1200, when it replaced a Saxon Church on the same sloping site in the valley of the Nailbourne. The view from across the Square reveals an impressive building with a massive tower of fine proportions completed during the 15th century. The real beauty of the place, however, is in the quality of its furnishings and owes much to the careful restoration of the interior carried out in the early part of the 20th century.
Christian people have worshipped God on this site for over 1000 years. Today, the people of Elham gather here every Sunday to worship in many ways, from the traditional Holy Communion, to the family-orientated Café Church. All ages are welcome to our services and we have a children's corner where they can play.
Members of the community join together in the church for events other than worship, such as concerts and markets.
We maintain our church as the living centre of our own Christian life and worship, and we also seek to hand on to succeeding generations not only the building, but also the living faith symbolised by it.
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Though the project has taken three years from concept to completion, and involved overcoming many challenges associated with building in an 800 year-old building, the New Facilities at St.Mary’s are now complete. The improvements include an addition to the South Porch to house accessible toilet facilities (including a baby changing station, and a sink for flower arranging); greatly improved access for wheelchairs by the installation of new ramps from outside into the heart of the Church; new main doors to the South Porch; new central heating boilers concealed in an enclosure in the South Porch; and inside the Church, a large servery with storage, and even a dishwasher!
None of this would have been possible without the generous financial support of parishioners and the whole community of Elham through donations and various fund-raising events, and also the generosity of outside funding agencies.
We are pleased to report that the entire project cost has been covered by these donations, coupled with fabric funds available from Church reserves for the cost of the replacement boilers.
By the time you read this, a celebration will have taken place in the Church to mark the commissioning of the facilities. A lucky raffle ticket holder will have had the honour of completing the first official flush! It is hoped that many of you will be attending events in a more user-friendly environment in the future. The servery area inside the Church can be viewed any time during weekdays when the Church is open (9.00am to 5.00pm), and the whole project viewed when the South Porch is open for services every Sunday.
The Parochial Church Council of St.Mary’s would like to extend sincere thanks to the design and construction professionals, and to all who contributed time and financial resources to the New Facilities project.
Peter Swain and Graham Ernest-Jones - Church Wardens
Hope springs eternal. (Alexander Pope)
As we move through the year into spring, it is easy to think about spring flowers, springing lambs, and forthcoming Easter celebrations… with lots of chocolate. Spring is a time of re-birth, of new life, of days drawing out, and the promise of warmth. This year we have so much more to hope for, with the possible end of the Covid Pandemic on the horizon. The vaccine, our way out of the long cold depths of, not only winter, but the annus horribilis of 2020, is helping us to hope for a brighter future, and a return to normality, wherever possible. In the churches of the Benefice of the Elham Valley Group of Churches, https://elhamvalleygroupofchurches.co.uk/ we are hoping to be moving out of having to use Zoom meetings for our services, and be back together again in our wonderful buildings.
Lent, the period of waiting for Easter, runs through March and ends on Maundy Thursday, the start of Easter, the day of the last supper. It is April the 1stthis year, but let us not be fooled, for it is no April fool’s day, it is the basis of Holy Communion, the start of reflective celebration of everything it means to be a Christian. But not only are we awaiting Easter during March, or awaiting getting back together in our churches; we are awaiting a return to normality.
At St Martins Church Acrise, a destination for many walkers from Elham, we normally give posies of spring flowers to all mothers on Mothering Sunday (14thMarch). We will have difficulty doing this, this year, but we hope to hold a Mothering Sunday service by Zoom, to which everyone around the Benefice is welcome, and we can walk and look at the glory of nature in the hedgerows, in the fields, on the churches and thank God.
Churchwarden St Martins Church, Acrise
St Mary’s – the church remains open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm for private prayer and meditation. Please feel free to walk through the churchyard and enjoy the snowdrops and the daffodils.
Wednesday at 8am, Morning Prayer by Zoom, led by one of the ministry team. This is a short service, with slightly different liturgy across a three week rota, depending on who is leading it. All are welcome. If there is something you would particularly like us to add to the prayers let us know.
++ Join in by telephone too ++
*Zoom Services Everyone is welcome to join these on-line services, using a PC, tablet etc. Please do get in touch if you would like some help in accessing these. It is also possible for access to Zoom events to be gained via normal phone landlines. Please contact Alison Dale (see next page) if you would like more information and the Zoom links.
Methodist Church – At the time of going to press, it is unlikely that the Methodist church will be open for worship over the next couple of months, but there will be several online services available. Contact the Circuit Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also producing a weekly Prayer Hub Newssheet, where you can read a reflection on the week’s bible readings, prayers and other information. Please contact Alison Dale (07985025381)
email@example.com if you would like to receive a copy by email or post.
New! Elham Valley Coffee Morning
Join Deb Scoble for a virtual coffee Morning by Zoom*
Thursday mornings at 10 ~ Join the Zoom Meeting with this link https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78517135604?pwd=aDVOczdRcGYyT056UFZ1UXpacHQyZz09
At present we cannot enjoy the company of many of those we would wish to be with. Nor can we all meet together in order to offer and share prayers for those people and situations we know are in need of them.
Each Wednesday morning a few of us join together (by Zoom) to pray for our communities and those in particular need. However, not everyone is comfortable with this form of communication, nor necessarily available at that time.
Yet we can still collectively offer prayers together as a church family albeit from our own homes at any time. If you would be interested in joining a prayer circle, undertaking to offer prayers regularly for those who need them, please do let me know. ( firstname.lastname@example.org, or 0787 3316492 ).
If you would like prayers offered by this circle for a particular person or situation please also use these contact details. Confidentiality of information will be maintained, and only sufficient information in order to frame a relevant prayer would be needed. Sharon Paine
Assistance during the Pandemic
Alison Dale has a list of contacts who can help or provide a service to everyone in the Elham Valley Group of Churches, from walking a dog to supplying take-away meals. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more, or wish to make an offer of assistance to others.
The project is nearing completion, with the end in sight within several weeks. Progress has been somewhat hampered due to Covid-related problems with availability and delivery of materials, but soon the Facilities will be ready for viewing and use, Government restrictions permitting.
Here is a description of progress to date:-
· The toilet extension is complete barring the installation of the floor covering and skirting board. This includes the flower arrangers corner with a Belfast sink and storage cupboard.
· The tea station and storage cupboard in the South aisle are complete (see photograph). The standard of design and workmanship has already been much admired.
· The fabrication of the external doors for the south porch is in progress off-site, with installation due very shortly.
· The accessible ramp to the South porch has been completed, including the asphalt topping.
· The brickwork, flintwork and oak framing to the exterior walls of the extension are complete.
· Fireproofing the interior of the oil tank housing at the Southwest corner of the churchyard has been completed and the new oil tank installed. New oil supply pipelines have been installed across the churchyard from the tank housing to the South porch. Many thanks are due to the community for their patience during the time the churchyard had to be closed for safety reasons. Hope runs high that the church will be warm before the onset of winter!
· Restoration of the damaged stonework where the old flue chimney was removed has been completed.
· Final design is in progress for the wood and metal mesh boiler enclosure in the South porch.
Inevitably there had been a build-up of construction dust throughout the church. This was cleared away and the church made to sparkle by many willing hands, all in time for the first church service since lockdown held on October 4th.