St Andrew’s, situated adjacent to the village green, pub and primary school, is a valued part of the life of this thriving village of approximately 2,000. There is a mainline railway station (Dover – London Victoria), a small supermarket, visiting Post Office, GP practice and micro-pub.
The Victorian church building is much loved by the community who responded well to a recent appeal for major building repairs (now complete). Two village organisations (The W.I. and Friends of St Andrews) covered the cost of the replacement of the clapped-out bell clapper! The church spring-clean and churchyard working parties attract non-churchgoers and are seen as an opportunity for outreach.
The LCC is in the process of applying for a faculty to remove some pews to provide wheelchair and pushchair space within the body of the church. This will also create space for a planned weekly bible study/play/worship group for the very young and their parents/carers.
The building is open during daylight hours, the Visitor’s book attests that this is appreciated. There are an increasing number of pilgrims walking the Via Francigena (between Canterbury and Rome). Members of the community also value the quiet space and sanctuary of the building.
Different styles of worship are used to meet the diverse needs of the congregation. Sunday services are split between Eucharistic and more informal, non-Eucharistic worship often led by ALMs. There is a monthly Thursday morning BCP communion, monthly Sunday afternoon communion in the village’s two nursing homes and Morning Prayer is said on most weekdays. Special outreach services are held at Christmas and All Souls. An all-night vigil is held on Maundy Thursday and a walk of witness on Good Friday. A group which has evolved from the Mothers’ Union is now a social and bible study group.
Messy Church meets bi-monthly in the Village Hall and is well supported, providing an informal activity based environment for children and accompanying adults. An informal act of worship closes each Messy Church meeting.
There is a small music group and an active adult choir. Many in the congregation are part of Cursillo and meet regularly in small reunion groups to pray together and support each other in their Christian journeys.
The village primary school is Cof E (maintained) and much work has been done in recent years to build on existing relationships. Assemblies are taken, Holocaust Memorial Day commemorated, church services are held for individual classes and parents as well as for the whole school throughout the year. Regular meetings with the Headteacher involve the Churchwarden, ALMs and clergy. There are three Foundation governors appointed from within the parish, the Incumbent is one of those governors in an ex-officio capacity. The school is federated with the school in Eythorne and Elvington which also has good links with St Peter and St Paul’s Eythorne
Whilst links with the community are most evident at Remembrance Sunday and Christmas (Street Nativity, Crib service and two community carol events), as in many villages our church members are also active members of village organisations so that outreach is part of day-to-day life. The Shepherdswell & Coldred News lists church services, events and contains a pastoral letter from one of the Ministry Team Other opportunities for outreach arise through fundraising activities, with barn dances, quizzes and a summer lunch involving the wider community.
There are good links with the Village Green Association, uniformed groups, the Swell Singers, History Society, and, wider with Madagascar. Members of the congregation are also actively involved with Fairtrade, Street Pastors, Soup Kitchen, the Deal Area Emergency Foodbank, Lovelight Romania and Rainbow Romania Aid, Christian Aid and the Children’s Society.