St Mary the Virgin, Kentford, revitalise their community and bolster church presence by investing into their events.
When the church gained a new parish priest in February 2021, a new opportunity for growth flourished. Supported by their Lightwave friends in Red Lodge, a village Easter Trail was organised that Easter and led to a new family joining the congregation (and a new organist!). However, more was needed – local families sought for spiritual guidance.
The decision was made to advertise church events more prominently, to help bolster attendance and remind the villagers that the church was still active. 10 banners were planned to be used for the events across the year, with the intention that each would be reusable – some several times a year. Some events were established prior to the lockdown (annual carol service & concert), whereas others were new – such as a monthly coffee morning, which helped to re-establish a sense of community. Two banners were made up to advertise the regular services, and more banners are being purchased as new events are added to the calendar.
As a result, the church immediately looked more awake – attendance to services and events came back stronger than ever. The original congregation, on average was in single digit numbers for the last decade, and is now routinely in double digits. The number of children attending regularly has increased from 0 to 3 (with 1 who regularly reads in services), and the church has also had the first baptisms in many years. Later on, a confirmation service will be hosted for three members of our congregation, along with others from the deanery.
Alongside the increase in the worshipping congregation, the coffee mornings have created a unique opportunity in the village for connecting with the community. Initially held at the village pub, they have now moved to the church and regularly attract over 40 people – a mix of ages and children. A recent Christingle Trail and Carol Service, supported by Lightwave Red Lodge, was joined by 40 people on the trail (lots of children and families!), and some 50+ worshippers at the service.
The Christmas Fayre held in the church saw footfall in the 100s, and raised a substantial amount of money for the church – as well as introducing the church building to new villagers, visitors and bargain hunters alike!
The church is now open each weekend, courtesy of a team of volunteers from within the community (half of whom have become involved through one of the events in the last year). This enables visitors, walkers, passers-by, and villagers to see our church and use it as a space for reflection and refreshment.
Future plans include development of facilities – a new servery and toilet – designed to secure the long term future of the building as a spiritual and community hub for the people of Kentford.