20 January 2022
Creating a new missional community in Kent
The Revd Helen Hollands, Superintendent Methodist minister in the South Kent circuit, offers an update on how an Our Calling grant helped set a new mission project in Kent.
I am very pleased to say that the grant money has been put to good use in our new Housing Missioner project. Tom Lewis began in post in September 2020 having been offered the post prior to the pandemic. He moved with his family down to the area and then eventually to the new manse we purchased on the Chilmington estate on the outskirts of Ashford. Since then he has been extremely active and we are really pleased about the way in which the post is working out. Tom is also working for the district for one third of his time.
So far Tom has made links with the families in the area and visited everyone who has moved into the estate, more than 200 houses. He has made active links with two local primary schools, becoming a governor at one which is an Anglican/Methodist shared community. He regularly leads Collective Worship and has successfully begun a popular Messy Church (based at the school) which regularly attracts 50 people including several local families who do not regularly attend church.
As a local preacher Tom has regularly led Sunday worship in Ashford. He has made ecumenical links and is working with the local Anglicans in running a youth group which now has a regular attendance of 20 young people, some of whom we took to 3Generate.
On the estate he has run various events including a summer picnic, a summer holiday club, prayer breakfasts, a Lent house group and has recently begun a Toddler group. He has considerably raised the profile of the church in the local community and has played an active part in the residents group at Chimington also making links with the local borough council Community management organisation.
Plans for the future include an Easter event, events for the Jubilee and another summer holiday club as well as on-going local activities. Tom is good at building teams and relationships for which we are very grateful. When things were more difficult during lockdown Tom managed a number of activities on-line and took the opportunity to engage in further training.
It has been a busy time! We are grateful to Tom and his family for their imaginative ministry amongst us.