The last few years have been busy at St. Anselm’s as we have forged ahead, despite limited resources, with a vision to transform a tired 1960’s dual use hall/mass centre into a proper church fit for reverent worship.

And the great news is that God has richly blessed our endeavours. What we have given has been multiplied, when we have needed funds they have arrived. Meaning a minor miracle has occurred in Pembury; for less money than a nearby parish built just one parish room we have renovated the space to the glory of God. Here is what it looked like five years ago.

This was a time when the church had to be laboriously set up for every use. Plastic chairs set out in lines with rubber kneelers and the altar wheeled in. It was not conducive to devotion for the moment Mass ended, instead of kneeling before the sacrament in prayer, the congregation was launched into operation clear-up. It rather encouraged a view of Sunday only Christianity. God packed away for another week.

Here is what St Anselm’s looks like today. Wooden pews have replaced the plastic chairs. Stations of the cross have been erected. A hall built. Beautiful hassocks replaced the rubber kneelers. 72 leylandii were hacked down and a lawn laid. And so many salvaged items have found a permanent home here, from the magnificent altar in limed oak to the two new reredos which add beauty to the whole. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us to get this far. Thank you!

But the work is not yet done and we are now launching a final appeal to finish the work we have begun. This final phase will see us install a beautiful new stained glass window in place of the current glass above the sanctuary. This is desperately needed because the current window, fashioned for hall use, is so bright as to ensure a glare that dazzles the worshipper and draws the eye away from the sacrament. This photograph of last years first communion candidates shows how bad it can be.

The other work that needs doing is less exciting than the window but every bit as necessary. We have to renovate the lighting; for at present we have but two settings. We either use the existing flourescent tubes designed for hall use in the 1960’s – which are so bright as to kill all and any atmosphere…or else we use the two standard lamps we have, and then the place is gloomy and reading hymn books becomes very challenging. Furthermore the current lighting was not designed for ad orientem worship and so the priest casts a shadow over the missal- which can prove rather challenging during evening celebrations.

So we are asking for financial help to ensure we finish the work we have begun. Ours is only a very modest parish, so benefactors and friends are hugely appreciated. Could you send a gift to help us? We have to raise around £10,000 so need all the help we can get. Donations can be sent to The Presbytery, 31 Henwoods Crescent, Pembury, TN2 4LJ.

NB: for those able to offer a significant gift we are offering a once in a lifetime opportunity. The window will be installed, to the glory of God, in memory of a few loved ones whose names will be inscribed on a commemoration plaque. Might your relative or friend be remembered in this way?

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