Rev Jo Richards


Good morning everyone, and I do hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory, and another glorious day - we have been blessed with good weather, though I do hear the cries of the gardeners who are in need of rain, as I am sure are our farmers. 

We are so fortunate living in this part of the world - it is not called the Garden of England for nothing. On one of my walks last week I went through strawberry fields, apple and plum orchards, hop fields, and vineyards in the distance. Earlier this year Jim & I were walking along the Stour, and back via Chartham Hatch, and we noticed just by the railway crossing at Chartham wine tasting: so as we were on foot - we indulged. Talking to the chap (ex-geology lecturer at UKC) he said that the soil where all the vines are growing is the same as that of the Champagne region of France, and with the climate warming it is becoming a significant wine growing area, with hundreds of vines having recently been planted. 

Whenever I see rows upon rows of vineyards, it always takes me back to that saying of Jesus from John 15:5  I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 

When preaching on this passage a while ago I did some research: To produce fruit to a true type, that means as close to the ‘parent plant’ as possible, a vine is grafted onto a strong root stock, and the two plants effectively become one.The root stock goes deep into the ground drawing up the nutrients the plant needs. In turn the branches grow from the plant; left to themselves the branches will get carried away and grow and grow; although this can be lovely to see, it is at the expense of any grapes that may be trying to grow on the vine. All the energy is spent on growing, with little left for the fruit. For fruit to be produced the branches are pruned right back so the energy can be channelled into the grapes. Branches that are not bearing fruit are removed, again so that the plant’s energy is directed to the fruit. Jesus knew that to produce fruit a vineyard needs pruning, and harsh pruning, and that branches that don’t produce fruit are discarded.  What this passage doesn’t say is that it takes three years for a newly planted vine to produce viable grapes, and then the conditions have to be right. 

This made me think how our lives over recent weeks have been pruned right back,  so much has been stripped away: and for many yesterday who have been shielding was a time that they could step outdoors, or perhaps see a family member. It has given many of us the opportunity to reflect upon what really matters in life, perhaps for some that could be summerised by the words: faith, food and family....

Pastoral news: 

Rev Michael Reeve: I am delighted to let you know that Michael came home last week, and is gaining strength everyday, which is really good news.

Rev. Kevin Goodman: Kevin is not so well at the moment and has asked if you could please pray for him at this time, thank you.

Tomorrow morning I have a funeral first thing (as I do on Friday), so John is leading Morning Prayer tomorrow, and Brian on Friday - thank you both, and on each day my morning briefing may be slightly later.

Morning Prayer

God Bless you all, and please do keep safe, keep connected, and keep praying.

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, I do hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory, and certainly after my week on leave - refreshed and recharged. I must admit I did have some aching limbs from my walks, evidently not as fit as I normally am, from walking around everywhere! I was blessed with glorious weather, and time to be, time with the family, BBQs, gardening and walking (probably about 64 miles!).  It was really good to receive spiritually- a bonus of streaming our services is that one can enjoy them having the familiar voices of Rev. Brian McHenry in the morning, and John Morrison in the evening for Morning Prayer and Compline respectively (thank you both). To be fed and nourished spiritually, as well as physically is good for us all.

It would be good for us to perhaps reflect on this time, as to what we would like to hang onto as we gradually ease out of lockdown (from a church building perspective we have no further guidance to date). Identify those things that we want to pick up again, those things which we perhaps want to drop. Likewise identify those things that we have adapted to in lockdown, but wouldn't want to continue with as we ease out, and those things that we do want to hang onto as we move into a new norm.

It would be really helpful for my reflecting and thinking as to what your thoughts are - please do email me. Yesterday as we celebrated Pentecost, and listened to Bishop Rose's sermon as sense of a re-birth, of re-imagining ministry. Something that the church has done right from its beginnings in that upper room when the Spirit descended 2000 years ago. 

Bishop Rose's sermon for Pentecost.

Please go to our You Tube channel or Facebook for Morning Prayer, as it is taking a little while to download this morning.

In the meantime, God Bless, and please do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo

FRIDAY 22 MAY 2020

Good morning everyone, and I do hope you are all well, as we are here at The Rectory.  A slightly cooler day today but did manage to have Morning Prayer outside with the birdsong, which is a real blessing. 

As I write, I have just seen a mother out jogging with her two children following behind; one jogging, the other on a scooter - and the thought that came to mind was a mother duck with the ducklings in tow.  Such imagery summons that quote of Jesus in Luke 13:34:  'I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.'  That feeling of protection, and again reflected by the psalmist David in Psalm 57:1, who wrote about God being like a mother hen protecting her chicks. 'Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed'. 

In this time of uncertainty and, for many, fear, to know that God's protection is there for us, we can be comforted by that thought. I was very moved to read the story of how a mother hen who sacrificed herself to keep her chicks alive; she hid them under her wings with an approaching fire, she died but they all survived.

NOVENA - Today marks the beginning of the Novena: nine days of prayer between Ascension Day and Pentecost.  This is an ancient tradition that goes back centuries but seems to have had a revival in recent years. Normally in church we have booklets that we hand out but here it is attached in digital format.  May I encourage you to use it in these nine days.  There are also some daily reflections for you too.

Week 25th - 29th May: As I have mentioned I am on leave this week (walking from home).  Ana (our administrator) is also on leave, so any queries please do contact our wardens: Mary Streater, Rachel Cameron, Jayne Ward & Sue Palmer. (Contact details on the bulletin)

Morning Prayer Tuesday 26th - Fri 29th will be led by Rev. Brian McHenry, and Compline by our Reader John Morrison, both services will be on Facebook Live, then uploaded to YouTube (thank you both).

Morning Briefing will resume on 1st June when I am back; though I am here on 31st May to take our Eucharist for Pentecost, with Bishop Rose preaching (delivered to the whole diocese).

In the meantime, please do keep Kitty and family in your prayers.

I will send out Sunday service details this evening.

God Bless, and do keep praying, keep connected and keep safe.

Morning Prayer

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and hope this continues to find you all well, as we are here at the Rectory.  So today is Ascension Day, known as the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ; the fortieth day of Easter.  It is also, what is referred to as, a principle feast day in the churches calendar, en par with Easter and Christmas.  'In normal times' we are obliged to celebrate the Eucharist; and I will be doing so this evening, live-streaming on Facebook Live at 7.00pm.

In many countries today it is a public holiday with all shops shut.  I know this from experience, coming back from France exactly 10 years ago, having walked some of the Camino Santiago (Route through France).  I went to get the train to work our way home and everything was shut! My other abiding memory of Ascension Day was on Mount Taber (mountain of the transfiguration) on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, with Dean Nick Papodopolus celebrating the Eucharist under a canvas; almost felt surreal.

I wonder what does the Ascension of Christ mean to you?  For some we have that picture, often depicted in art, with Jesus' feet disappearing up into the clouds; of the post-resurrection Jesus no longer being  physically present with the disciples, as he returns to his Father in heaven. But the disciples were not left alone, they were told to wait in the city, to then be "clothed from with power from in high"; I am sure they must have wondered what Jesus meant but as ever they were obedient to his words.  That must have been such a roller-coaster 40 days for them, since Easter Day; as it is for many of us today, but as we journey together through this, we too anticipate Pentecost, which is Sunday week (31st)...in the meantime we have the Novena, nine days of prayer to look forward to, which I sent through with yesterday's briefing.

Have struggled to upload Morning Prayer this morning on YouTube, but can see it if you click on this link.

To follow a note from Kitty Fulljames.

Meanwhile God Bless and keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo 


Good afternoon everyone, and I do hope this finds you all well, as we are here, and another hot day.  As I mentioned yesterday I took a funeral first thing this morning, so apologies for the delay in getting this to you.

Many of you will be aware from my earlier email of the sad loss of Rev Michael Fulljames, who died peacefully yesterday in a local nursing home, where he had been for several months. Thoughts and prayers very much with Kitty and the family at this sad and difficult time. Someone so wise, and much loved by so many of us will be sorely missed but, in his words, now elevated to glory, and at peace.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is Ascension Day, and we will mark this with a Eucharist, live-streamed at 7.00 pm (that way we will also be able to cheer for our keyworkers at 8.00pm).  Canterbury Diocese for many years now provides a Novena booklet for the 9 days of the Novena - Ascension Day to Pentecost.  There are some excellent resources available from the diocese to support this.  This will then be concluded at Pentecost, when Bishop Rose is preaching to the diocese on Sunday 31st May 2020, which will be downloaded and incorporated into our Eucharist.

Novena and Thy Kingdom Come details from the diocese: 

Here are four ways for you and your church to get involved:

  1. Download this year's beautiful Novena resources for free - use them for your own quiet time, with those in your household or in an online small group. View the resources and download them here
  2. Sign up to receive daily emails with the Novena images and prompts to help you to reflect and go deeper with God - sign up here
  3. Join us for our Diocesan Day of Prayer and Pilgrimage, 29-30 May.  We've re-imagined it for Lockdown and will be offering an online pilgrimage through everyday items, with contributions from every deanery of our diocese. All you'll need are some everyday objects and and internet connection - check out the details and times here - and please spread the word.
  4. Tell us what you hear. Our theme this year is 'Listening on the way' and we want to know what you hear from God during this time - write or draw your thoughts, take a photo and email the team to help us to share what God is saying to us during this season. 

I must admit I have used the booklet for several years and have always found them very good.

God Bless you all and please do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying

Morning Prayer from Rev Brian McHenry - thank you, Brian!

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and yet another glorious day! Hope this finds you well, as we are here at The Rectory. Today 19 May is the day of one of our patron saints: St Dunstan.  On Sunday we celebrated his patronal festival, though today is his actual day.  If you want to find out more, Wikipedia does a reasonable job.

So I won't repeat what that says, though I must admit we do need to credit him for the revival of the monastic life in this country. Before I was appointed, and I do like history, I did my background on our three saints (well, in fact there are more, as churches are amalgamated but more of that when we come to their saint days).

But what makes a saint? Again, I am sure we all have our own understandings about sainthood and what makes a saint. Do you have a favourite saint, and why?  I would be fascinated to know. Remember that in the New Testament, “saints” means not canonised saints (a much later development), but rather all the people of God.

One of my favourite passages in the Bible is Hebrews 12:1 12. 'Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us'.  That real sense that we really are surrounded by all the saints.  Back in 2012, we were at the packed Olympic stadium and there was a big banner with the words: Hebrews 12.1.  So when I got home I looked it up and the realisation that we really are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses: all those that have gone before us, are here with us today, and then those to come. Comparable to the Sanctus in the Eucharist, which is something I really miss us all saying together at the moment: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. 

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today, and on Dunstan...

Update on Michael: Daphne reports that he is continuing to improve, and has been moved to a cottage hospital for rehabilitation, which is really good news. Prayers continue.

Attached is the latest menu from Refectory Catering.

God Bless you all, and keep praying, keep connected and please keep well.

Morning Prayer

Please note tomorrow Rev Brian McHenry will be live streaming Morning Prayer on Facebook Live, Benefice page, and uploading to YouTube, as I have a funeral first thing, and morning briefing will be slightly later.

Rev Jo

MONDAY 18 MAY 2020

Good morning everyone and another glorious day.   I understand it is going to get warmer this week, which will be lovely. I hope this finds you all well, as we are here - another lovely walk on Saturday.

Then after our service yesterday, I 'Beat the Bounds' of the Benefice, which I mentioned on Friday.  What struck me the most was the sheer emptiness of Palace Street, The Buttermarket, and Burgate.  It was completely deserted - never before have I seen it completely empty - day or night. The gates to the cathedral were shut along with all other shops, pubs and restaurants.  It was the enormity of what is happening that really hit me. 

Of course Canterbury, like many other ancient cities, has the 'double whammy' of losing both our students and tourists. On a hot balmy spring afternoon (it was 3.00 o'clock), the place should have been swarming with residents, students and tourists alike.  Evensong would be about to begin in the cathedral - everything gone.  I must admit it was rather a wake up call of the impact that this virus is having. From there I went around the boundary (which is Burgate), turning right along the city wall, past the car park with Age UK and down Gas Street, past St Mildred's (a lovely chat with folk enjoying the churchyard), then along the Stour to Bingly Island, where I said the litany for Rogation Sunday (Boundary of the two parishes). I did record it, but it didn't come out too well! Then back working my way through the roads up to the university, along and back down through the woods to the Rectory (5 miles exactly according to Strava).  Although our Benefice is compact, we have both rural and the city centre within our boundary. What was also lovely was to see several folk from our congregation out, and to say hello (keeping social distancing at all times)!

All in training for next week - I was meant to be in the Holy Land, assisting Dean Nicholas Papodopalous on pilgrimage to the Holy Land but alas, not to be (hopefully next year?); so am going to be walking around the Kent coast instead, from Canterbury to Whitstable and then turn right and see how far I get!

There is something about walking and pilgrimage, that sense of journeying. Of course we have our physical journeys, but also our faith journeys - that inner journey of faith/spiritual journey, of which we are all on. This time of lockdown is an opportunity to perhaps stop and reflect upon that - where is God in all this, and my/our relationship with God? Rev Kevin spoke so well into this yesterday in our service.  If you haven't heard it, or want to hear it again, it is attached as a sound recording; something we could perhaps reflect more upon in the coming weeks, especially as we begin to think about coming out of lockdown.

In the meantime, God Bless you all, and please as ever: keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

God Bless!

Morning Prayer

Rev Jo

FRIDAY 15 MAY 2020

Good morning everyone, and where do the weeks go?? Hope this finds you all well, as we are here at The Rectory, and instead of playing Catan last night (that's our board game), got drawn into this ancestry/family tree; both Jim and I have signed up and exploring our respective trees...I have ancestry from India (great grandfather), which is really interesting - perhaps explains my love for curries!

Sunday as well as celebrating our patronal festival of St Dunstan (more about that on St Dunstan's day: 19th May), it is Rogation Sunday - a time when historically one would beat the bounds of the Parish; something I was introduced to in my curacy Parish, and then here. In fact it was one of the first opportunities to meet many of you, more informally.

Place is important to me, and I was determined to establish in my mind before I was appointed the Benefice boundaries - I got Google Maps, Google Earth, OS Maps, A Church Near You, and established the Benefice boundary and mapped it out, all 6.9 miles of it! I am pretty certain where all the roads are in the Benefice.

When I was given the cure of souls for all those within the Benefice, at my licensing, this is something that I take very seriously, also recognising it is a huge privilege. That sense of pastoral oversight of all, those who attend church, and those who don't, people of all faiths and none. Up until lockdown, every Monday morning as many of you know, I would spend two and half hours walking the Benefice and praying for all who live there, along with the pubs, restaurants, shops etc etc. It is through this ministry, and my daily walking around I have got to know so many of our homeless community (I am in touch with Catching Lives still). Now that we are allowed to do more exercise, I will resume this ministry next week, and be actively walking and praying around the Benefice. 

It brings me onto Rogation Sunday, and that tradition of praying, if you are out and about please do pray for God's blessing upon the land, if you are shielding at home, perhaps find a map of Canterbury and pray for the streets that are familiar to you.

I will certainly be walking and praying the boundary Sunday afternoon, and say the prayers, which are attached in a Word document.

Will also send out this afternoon details for our Sunday service.

Michael: Having spoken to Daphne, Michael is slowly improving, which is good news, but still a long way to go. Prayers continue for them both.

Morning Prayer

Psalm: Please do read all of psalm 138 for today - it was so pertinent, I felt.

In the meantime keep connected, keep praying and keep safe.

God Bless!

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, hope you continue to stay well as we are here at the Rectory.

As I mentioned yesterday, we have received further guidance from Bishop Rose, and the CofE, which will be available on Diocese website, and is on their Facebook page.

As you am sure you will be aware,  we have been instructed that all our church buildings remain closed until the beginning of July, at the very earliest (and this is very conditional on government guidance). However, and I quote:

"with certain guidance and practices in place, parishes may now decide to enable ONE designated person to enter your church building, for the following purposes:

Please note that no parish or individual should feel compelled to do this"

In light of this, and in discussion with our four churchwardens we have come to the following conclusion:

Live-streaming vs pre-recorded services

None of our three churches have any wifi provision, with only St Dunstan having 4G cover for use with a phone for live-streaming (though we are currently exploring how to tap into the wifi from the hall).

It is my preference, and of those I have spoken to, for live-streaming to continue, i.e. everything is done in real time, rather than watching a pre-recorded service. With a live-stream service for the Eucharist, I am dependent on another member of my household to assist with the technology /monitoring comments etc and I am hugely grateful to my husband, Jim, who is doing this, especially if technology fails, as it did last week.

We felt that in this continual time of uncertainty and anxiety, we would keep to what seems to be working, and from what I understand is well received:

Bishop Rose has stressed that it is for us to decide as to what works best in our context here. If you do have any questions please do not hesitate to phone/email.

Thomas More: Following this guidance and continual uncertainty about public worship, we have decided to cancel the St Thomas More Service on 6th July, and Rev Brian McHenry will do a short service recorded from home for that day (I am on leave at that time, and Brian was going to take the service).

Morning Prayer

Words form our Psalmist: from Psalm 16: Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge.

Many thanks to you all for your ongoing prayers and support.  None of these decisions, I assure you, have been taken lightly. 

Keep connected, keep praying and keep safe.

God Bless.

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, I hope this continues to find you all well, as we are here at the Rectory, though rather a cold and blustery morning  (morning prayer inside today), and I did notice a bit of snow in Scotland!! 

Several of you have sent this through to me from YouTube: The UK Blessing, and within a week it has had 2.2 million views, which apparently is equivalent to 200 new people watching it every single minute of every hour since it was released, and people who don't consider themselves being religious have been moved to tears by watching it. The same article also commented that the British online bookstore, Eden, has reported a 55% increase in the sales of bibles in April. A recent headline in one paper said that one in four are tuning into a service online. We are certainly keeping a record of all our numbers; and Ana has created a spreadsheet and one can also note how long people watch for; although our buildings are shut, church online would appear to be thriving. Of course it is spiritual growth, rather than clicks on a screen, but what appears to be happening is that a door is being knocked on, and people are dipping their toes in, and little seeds grow into huge trees.

Yesterday we received further guidance from Bishop Rose, and am meeting on Zoom with our wardens today, with view to discussing our options, remaining mindful that our church buildings remain closed for all public worship. Despite this, and I know how difficult it is, it is good to hear that so many of you are remaining connected, praying for one another, and keeping in touch on the phone, and keeping well.  I met someone yesterday whilst on my daily exercise, who works in our local hospital, and said first hand just how difficult and challenging things are, and this virus is very real and present here in Canterbury. Hearing that really made me think and pray....for all our key workers especially those who at this moment are working on our frontline in whatever context that may be; as this person said, this is my job, and day after day I get on with  it.

In the words of today's psalmist (Psalm 30): 'I will exalt you O Lord, because you have raised me up, and not let my foes triumph over me'.

In the meantime, please keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Morning Prayer

God Bless

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and hope this continues to find you all well, as we are here at The Rectory. 

One of the conversations we have had on our Zoom coffee morning is folk using this time to revisit their family tree - I know a couple of you have enjoyed spending time doing this. This is something Jim & I did many years ago, before there was the internet, and had to go to various records offices, Somerset House etc, now it would seem it is at the touch of a button on the computer; so we decided that we would revisit this, using Ancestry. (I am sure there are many other sites available, but this one had an offer!!). It was quite incredible, we put in a few details of what we knew and researched already and there before us was opened a whole past - it was like that TV programme, 'Who do you think you are?', it linked in with other families who may have done some research on your distant ancestor, and it linked in together. But it got me thinking, who we are - all that has gone before us, shaping who we are today, and how that is then passed on to the next generation.  Really fascinating, and how I come back to that thought of how this current experience will perhaps shape next generations. It really was interesting, and worth having a look at! It also makes us think about our identity - 'who do you say that I am?'.... and as it is written in the Gospels, whoever we are, whatever our background: you are my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well pleased. 

As yet no further guidance re 'next steps' for our church buildings, but I am aware of much activity behind the scenes from what is on the CofE website. In the meantime, please do let me know if you are available to read/lead intercessions, as it is always good to have different voices. This week coming up we have St Dunstan's patronal festival (19th May is his day, but we celebrate on nearest Sunday); little did we know when we put this month's rota together that we wouldn't be gathered in our churches...but we are where we are, and rise to the challenge! As +Rowen says: "Find out what God is doing, and join in".

Update on Michael: Continuing to get a little stronger, which is good news, and prayers continue.

Morning Prayer

Bless, and keep praying, keep connected, and keep safe.

Rev Jo

MONDAY 11 MAY 2020

Good morning everyone, and hope this finds you all well on this very blustery morning, as we are here at the Rectory. Thank you to all those who have contributed to our VE Day website page, there are some lovely stories there. It is not too late to add any more stories, or pictures of your VE Day 75th Celebrations, either send them to Caroline Blamey, or to me and I can forward. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting our neighbours here in Harkness Drive, with a number of tea parties taking place in front gardens (social distancing maintained throughout). What was nice was having the time, in "normal times", many people are rushing off here there and everywhere, and there was no sense of that on Friday, rather being very present to the present moment, and chatting to folk - someone said how he heard me saying morning prayer every day, to camera! 

This week is also Christian Aid week, in times past we have done door to door collections, and then last year there was a quiz night to raise funds, along with envelopes in our churches. All of that is out of the question, but we do have a link on our website to enable giving to this charity.

Yesterday we had a technology failure with streaming our service, although we soon managed to get back online. This really drew to my attention how dependent we are on the internet, wifi connections etc etc, and how mindful we must be for those folk who are off-line, and the only means of communication is either by post or phone call. I do encourage you to keep the phone calls going, as I know how very much it is appreciated. I must admit I thoroughly enjoy phoning around and catching up with you all; though there are still services to plan, Zoom meetings to attend, emails, and funerals to take (prayers please for Jo Durkins' family as I take her funeral this morning). In the next couple of days we will hear more from Bishop Rose re the plans for our diocese and what 'next steps' might look like.

For those of us who are online however, technology today has helped enormously - just to see familiar faces, be it on our Zoom coffee mornings, or keeping in touch with our friends and families, and even online quizzes, which we have thoroughly enjoyed partaking in, over recent weeks. But nothing beats seeing someone face to face, worshipping together, and we really do have that to look forward to!! Though I fear it will be some time before we can 'share the peace'/shake a hand/offer a hug.

We have a lot to be thankful for, the birds are singing, and it is a fresh new day, and in the words of this morning's psalm, psalm 145: Every day I will bless you and praise your name for ever and ever.

Michael: Update from Daphne, that Michael is slowly getting stronger, but still a very long way to go, so please do keep them both in your prayers.

Morning Prayer

God Bless you all, and please do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo 

FRIDAY 8 MAY 2020 

Good morning everyone, and hope this finds you all well, as today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 

I do encourage you all to have a look at our website this morning, and read all the wonderful memories, that have come from you all, including Ron Lobeck talking on camera, of his memories of the day - and please do add further memories that you have and photos from today.  (Thank you Caroline for putting the page together).  Send them either to Caroline Blamey or myself, and I will forward.

On our website there is the Royal British Legion schedule of events today, so again do have a look.

Please do also have a look at these services recorded earlier, and do watch both part 1 and 2, (I struggled to merge the videos, so two separate).  Click on the Order of Service and then click on Part 1  and Part 2.  

VE Service for VE Day 75th Commemoration:

Part I: Reflections on VE Day by John Morrison

Part II: Short service of Commemoration by Rev Jo Richards

Morning Prayer

Michael: Daphne has advised that Michael is getting stronger, and again yesterday they were able to speak on Zoom, which is wonderful news. May prayers continue, please.

Menu: See the latest menu from Refectory Catering Services.

Julian of Norwich: Today 8 May, we also remember that wonderful mystic, Julian of Norwich, so I will conclude with her comforting words for these times: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

God Bless you all, and whatever you do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo


Good morning and hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory. One of the things I find difficult about this lockdown, is remembering what day it is! Those of you watching Morning Prayer know where I am coming from...is it Wednesday or Thursday, and then the reassuring sound of the rubbish lorry (thank you keyworkers) alerted me to the fact that it's Thursday - but what does differentiate our days? 

Several people have mentioned that this rhythm of prayer (Morning Prayer & Compline), work (paid work or clearing cupboards/gardening), exercise, and rest is very monastic, and something that I have reflected on myself. Last night I caught up with a friend of mine, a sister in a closed convent, and we chatted on Zoom (yes it is possible), and how this rhythm to our days was not that dissimilar to their way of life. Many years ago I was introduced to something called Rhythm of life, how each day one should have a quiet time, each week a quiet time (Sabbath), every month maybe a quiet day, every year maybe a retreat - and what this feels like at the moment is a global 'retreat', everything has been paused - a chance of reflection, of asking some of the bigger questions, of giving our planet that opportunity to breathe....of action and contemplation. That rhythm of alternating between meeting with God in the quiet place, and then the meeting of God in the busyness of the market place.

VE DAY 75th anniversary celebrations

On a different note, tomorrow we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and thank you for those who have already contributed to our VE Day webpage...and here is a note form Caroline Blamey. 

We are creating a page on the website to mark the special 75th anniversary of VE day.  Already a few people have sent us some interesting stories - thank you very much.  Later today, you should be able to see it up on the website, linked from the Homepage.  If any of you have memories of VE Day or any photos, I would appreciate it if you would send them to Rev Jo as soon as possible please.  We will only put your first name up on the website unless you specifically want your surname there too.  Thank you in advance.  

On the web page I would also like to draw your attention to Pauline's suggestions for how we can mark the day ourselves and follow the day's schedule via the Royal British Legion website.  

We would also welcome photographs of any home/garden decorations you may be doing for this weekend.  Send them to Rev Jo and they will be forwarded to Samuel for the web gallery.  Thanks.

Morning Prayer

Update on Michael: Yesterday he was brighter, and Daphne was able to chat to him on Zoom! Prayers continue...

In haste, as off to Zoom chapter meeting, but will send out details etc for Sunday services, and our short service tomorrow for VE Day in due course.

God Bless!

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and another glorious day out there, and good to be outside again for Morning Prayer, and the birdsong, I know I keep saying it, but it is just beautiful. That real sense that before the dawn they are singing in anticipation of the day ahead; they sing in the darkness, in the knowledge and sure and certain hope that the sun will rise; and it then seems that they give thanks at the end of the day with the evening birdsong; our birds and the prevalence of our birdsong certainly give that sense of hope: hope that it won't be too long before we can meet together in our churches (I sense we might find out more from Boris on Sunday re lifting of some restrictions, and then what that might mean for our churches). Hope that we will be able to catch up with family and friends in real time, and Christian Hope...

I wrote in italics the sure and certain hope as they are also words used at a committal at a funeral: in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. In all of this, our faith gives us that hope, and belief in eternal life. This morning in Morning Prayer, the passage from Luke was about Jesus' baptism; as many of you know the symbolism associated with  Baptism (Christenings) is so powerful: the oil, the scallop shell, the water, the light...that sense of journey.

We are all on a journey of faith, you and me, and just at different places on that journey, some might be new to faith, some been committed Christians all their life, whilst others maybe doubting, or others confused, uncertain and wondering what it is all about - as were the disciples - some in the story of Emmaus had turned away from Jerusalem, and walking away from it all, and met Jesus (unbeknown to them) on that road. He met them where they were at, and listened as he meets us wherever we are at, on are journey; but Christ is with us, wherever we may be, and we must remember that, in the good times, and in the challenging times....

As promised yesterday I was sent through the programme for VE Day celebrations on Friday, and thank you so much for those who have sent stories through...and do add to this, as might create a page on the website.

The Royal British Legion has sent out a plan for celebrating VE Day. 

11 am 2 minutes' silence in front gardens or on the pavement 

3 pm Churchill's speech on the BBC, followed by a picnic in front gardens

4 pm Tea in front gardens

6 pm Raise a glass with neighbours

9 pm Singalong with the Royal British Legion after the Queen's Speech

Go to the British Legion Website, VE Day livestream from 11.15 am

Candle Corner: Candle lit here for those who have asked for prayers.

Michael remains stable, though progress is slow, so please do keep both Michael and Daphne in your prayers.

Many thanks and please do keep praying, keep connected and keep well, as we are here.

Morning Prayer

God Bless, and have a good day!

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and hope this once again finds you all well, as we are here at The Rectory, and good to see the sun shining, though unfortunately with it being so windy I did Morning Prayer inside rather than outside, as the wind makes such a noise on the microphone! Did miss the birds though!

I have been thinking re VE Day celebrations on Friday, and I know the BBC have a number of ideas that we have been encouraged to take part in, including a tea party in our front gardens (weather permitting); I will find out more and let you know. John Morrison and I are looking to put together a short service of reflection - still work in progress. However, if any of our older folk have any particular memories from VE Day, please could you send them through, as might be able to incorporate some of the stories into the service, or even pictures. All can be anonymous if you would prefer. I know when my daughter was at Primary school, and my grandmother was still alive, her topic in history was WWII, and we learnt so much from what my grandmother said from first hand experience. It really would be lovely if anyone could send something through - email/audio...thank you in anticipation. I would imagine that those of you who might remember it would have been children yourself, so to recall it from that perspective I know would be great.

Much in the news about things beginning to unlock, as I have said before, as and when I hear anything re our churches I will of course let you know - though we don't know any more than you at the moment. Though are beginning to have conversations re thoughts about taking some of the streaming of services forward as this has been a bonus of these times in enabling us to keep connected, mindful of those of course who are off-line. If you are in touch with folk off-line please do tell them about the Hope Line from the Archbishop: 0800 804 8044, those I have spoken to have much appreciated it.

Re Michael: I keep in touch with Daphne, and unfortunately Michael's progress is slow, and he remains on the ward, please keep both Michael and Daphne in your prayers.

We read again Psalm 139 in Morning Prayer, please do listen below, or look it up, it really is so powerful.

Any requests for my prayer corner here, please do forward, as candle lit for those who have asked for prayer, and prayers continue for those who have requested.

Morning Prayer

God Bless, and keep praying, keep connected, and keep safe.

Rev Jo


Good Morning everyone, I hope you are all well this morning, as we are here at The Rectory, catching up with friends via Zoom on Friday evening, and then a fabulous walk on Saturday, this time venturing out the back of where we live, through the university, which is so quiet, and onto the Crab & Winkle Way, to Tyler Hill, and then looping back into Canterbury behind Hales's Place, and back through university. 

It is so strange walking through a desolate University, almost as though everyone left in a hurry, with banners and posters up  advertising various events for March and April and on, into the summer. You wonder how all this will effect the lives of all those young people, and then for all of us. Last week I had to pop into St Dunstan's church to pick something up, and it felt so strange, such that sense of leaving it as it was with the posters up, and the March Parish Magazine, and still the purple Lenten furnishing...this is all so strange, but church is still very much open, our treasured buildings are temporarily shut.

Then this morning on the news there is talk as to how the lockdown, may be lifted, as and when it comes - I certainly don't envy those having to make these decisions; not an easy job!

I was talking to Caroline re website, and having a Candle Corner, with some scripture - as I am spending more time in my study, I am happy to have a Candle Corner here, and will keep candle burning for the day and if you have anyone you would like a prayer for I will put them on the list for that day, and pray for them - just send an email/text/call.

Prayer in these times is so very important; you may have read in the paper that more folk are turning to faith at this time, than has been the case for some time, and is reflected as I have said before in the folk joining us for our online services.

Attached is something fun to do, is to make a (thank you Caroline) and we might give it a go!  Talking of food also attached is this week's menu for Refectory Catering Services.

As I mentioned at the service yesterday morning, am looking into incorporating words, hymns etc for Sunday - discovered some software which will help with this!

Meanwhile, thank you all for your support and prayers, and feedback - as I say I am this side of the camera, so please do feedback....

Please do come forward re reading and intercessions- if you can use Zoom, it is easier than that, and Ana is very happy to help!

Have a good day, keep praying, keep connected and keep safe.

Morning Prayer

Rev Jo


Good morning, and hope this continues to find you well, as we are here at The Rectory.  

Lovely to be out in the garden again for Morning Prayer.  That has been one of the real bonuses of this time, to share Morning Prayer with so many of you, and to be outside!

Thank you to those who have given feedback re our services, and please do continue.  As I said yesterday, I am not on the receiving end of the camera, unless I look at the recordings!
The Church of England produced a really helpful document yesterday.

You would have picked up that we have to be so careful with issues relating to copyright etc (understandably). In conjunction with  the RSCM (Royal School of Church Music), St Martins-in-the fields choir and Church of England, we can use their material in our live services, along with what David and Charlotte are doing. The RSCM produce an excellent guide for music called Sunday-by-Sunday.  We use it across the Benefice, and it gives us guidance as to which hymns tie in with that Sunday's gospel reading, and the hymns that are being produced will do just that.  Five hymns a Sunday are coming out, so any favourites let me know.  Now is the time!  We need to get a streaming licence from CCLI, which I will do today, but it also means we can use the words on the screen etc so we can sing along!  Just need to work out the techy side of that - this is all sounding promising....by the end of this we will have a full sung Eucharist live-streamed!! Watch this space...

Talking of liturgy, the Psalm today for Morning Prayer was one of my favourites - Psalm 139.  I do urge you to read it, and so helpful in what we are going through at the moment.  I don't know about you but I have found the Psalms so helpful; yesterday I took a funeral - not permitted to sing hymns (fear of spreading water droplets), so we sat and listened to The Lord's my Shepherd.  These words were written thousands of years ago. The Book of Psalms is estimated to have been written between 1440 BC and 586 BC.  But they really do speak into so many situations - Psalms of Lament to Psalms of Praise.  If you haven't had the opportunity to look at some of these, I do encourage you to.  There are 150 of them, and they really do embrace all our emotions...I wonder what your favourites are - do let me know.

Update on Michael: Again touched base with Daphne yesterday, and he remains stable on the ward.  Please do continue to keep them in your prayers.

Attached is Daily Prayer sheet for May (Thank you to Rev Mark Blamey for putting together, and Caroline for formatting)...this is team work!!

God Bless you all. Will send out Orders of Service for Sunday later today.

Meanwhile, keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Morning Prayer

Rev Jo Richards

THURSDAY 30 April 2020

Good morning everyone, and hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory.

I have been giving some thought as to how we can improve our streamed services, and what you would like.

We have been operating like this for six weeks now; initially it was a case of 'hitting the road running' a steep learning curve for us all, certainly for me! But my sense is we are in this for the long haul, and have engaged through Facebook Live, and YouTube, with a far wider community than who would otherwise 'come to church'. The publication I sent out a couple of days ago taps into this.

However in our context, please can you give some feedback for what we are currently providing:

Services live-streamed on Facebook Live then uploaded to YouTube:

  1. Morning Prayer at 9.00 am Mon - Fri 
  2. Compline 7.00 Mon - Fri
  3. Sunday Eucharist: 10.00 Sunday

Reflections: on YouTube - Stations of the Cross

Bible Study: email run by Rev Brian

Social: Zoom Coffee morning 11.00am on Sundays.

I have been looking at what other churches are doing etc, as I am sure you may have, and there is much variety.

The options:

I have my own thoughts but would be really interested to hear your views, as you are the ones at the other end of the camera! Any experience you may have welcomed, we are very much in this together. I have been talking to colleagues etc but want to know what works for us, and our wider community.

In the meantime, please keep sending your lovely pictures to Samuel.

Michael: I spoke to Daphne yesterday, where he remains on the ward, and slowly gaining strength; please continue with your prayers for both Daphne and Michael.

Morning Prayer

In the meantime keep safe, keep well and keep praying.

Rev Jo

WEDNESDAY 29 April 2020

Good morning everyone,

I hope this finds you all well, as we are here at The Rectory, and so good to be outside again for Morning Prayer this morning. It is like many things, it is not until it is taken away you realise how much you value it (in this context that is being outdoors, and the birdsong that accompanies us for prayer). But that can be so true for so many things, especially at this time - so much of what we just took for granted has been snatched away from us - be it gathering together for worship in our church buildings, the ability to potter down to the shops and no doubt meet folk on the way, or to see friends and loved ones - be it parents, sons/daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and the list goes on....but then we must be so thankful for what we do have - particularly if you have a garden, and able to enjoy it, or a neighbour you talk to over a fence, and to have friends who phone and keep in touch. Yes this is difficult times, and for some I appreciate it is really challenging, but it is also an opportunity to strengthen relationships, with one another and with God, to really enjoy the birdsong and all that God's beautiful creation has to offer.

And credit to our amazing key workers - and this is a delivery driver.

Something to share with you, my work mobile phone, as many of you might be aware, has been on its last legs for some time, in that when I try to call you, all you hear is a gargled muffled sound, which is very off putting for the person on the other end...anyway it was long overdue for an upgrade, as I got it when I came to post. I have two phones, one for work which I do switch off, day off, on holiday etc and a personal one which I rarely switch off. Although we have a landline, I don't even know the number! Everything is on the mobile. Anyway last night just before 10.00pm I ordered a new phone for work (which hopefully will work better), and by 9.30am this morning, within 12 hours it was delivered!! I hadn't paid for speedy delivery or anything, it was there waiting for me after Morning Prayer - I am impressed! Thank you God and delivery person.

I was reflecting this morning whilst we were reciting Psalm 105, which is the narrative of the Israelite people, how what we are living through at the moment is such a momentous time in history, and will be part of our narrative in times to come, in so many ways, including of course the temporary closing of our churches,  along with the growth of online and digital platforms - it will be so interesting, for all of us, especially for younger generations on how this will impact upon them in years to come.

Attached Week 6 Holiday Club - some really good worksheets for our younger folk, from Rev Hannah.

Update on Michael: I spoke to Daphne, Michael is out of ITU and on the ward, which is really encouraging, and now pray please for him to gain strength. And Daphne is so appreciative of your prayers and support. Thank you.

Morning Prayer

Keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo

TUESDAY 28 April 2020

Good morning everyone,

Well that was a first - Morning Prayer streamed from my study, as it is a bit damp out there, and I really missed the birdsong.  Isn't it interesting how we have become accustomed so quickly (at least I do) to their joyful accompaniment.  It also felt quite claustrophobic being inside, rather than under the clear blue sky that we have been blessed with throughout the lockdown.  Having said that, I know the rain is a blessing, not just for our gardens but for our farmers as well.  I have a feeling tomorrow may be the same but we will wait and see.

We continue to stay well here at the Rectory, and I must admit another of the blessings that this time has brought has been having lunch and supper together - last night didn't play Catan, rather I caught up on Zoom with my friends whom I initially trained with as a physio, and just listening to their stories, all NHS workers, and working in our hospitals; ironically the only friend who is no longer a physio, is a Baptist Minister! So we were comparing notes on how Zoom meetings and live streaming have become embedded in our vocabulary.  If you had asked me a couple of months ago, I like many of you perhaps wouldn't know what we were talking about.  It is so strange how we do adapt to this 'new norm'.  Yesterday for my exercise I went to all three churches, and walked around each, and bumped into (not literally) a few folk on my way, which was nice to see familiar faces.  The churches are still very much there, and the grass outside St Mildred's is a mass of daisies.

Every now and then I experience moments when the reality of all this really hits, and one came yesterday, totally unexpectedly.  Although I use for work an electronic diary (Google) which I thoroughly recommend, for home we still very much use a paper diary, and 'normally' every Sunday evening we go through the week ahead - who's in, who's out, etc.  I hadn't opened it for a while - no need to as we are in - last night I did, and there in my daughter's writing were the words 'textile' exam on Thursday, and then as I went further all her exams were written down, and then dinner we were having with friends Saturday night, and then my pilgrimage to the Holy Land next month, Greenbelt, Oberammergau....all of it gone.  It was one of those moments, I am sure we are all having, when the reality of this pandemic comes home. But then this virus is really making us all stop, and what is it that really matters, our loved ones and our faith, food on our table, and a roof over our heads, and we are all in it together, and we have our faith: Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and whether we are online or off-line, He doesn't change. Christ is in the midst of it all.

Church online:

John Morrisson forwarded to me this really interesting paper which has already been produced about church online and the impact it is having, touching so many more folk than our regular Sunday Worship' does.  I am in the process of reading, but please do so, as it looks very interesting. 

Church off-line:

On a practical note, there is a free phone line for all our 'off-line' folk to use to access prayers and reflections etc.  Please if you speaking to them give them the details.  Our off-line folk do get a copy of these briefings along with other resources, but am acutely conscious that they can't access online services, though there is Sunday Worship on Radio 4, and Songs of Praise.

Daily Hope: 

Church of England launches free 'dial-in' service for elderly who can't get online.  The Church of England has launched a free dial-in worship service to bring prayer to people's homes while churches are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Daily Hope, which is available from Sunday, offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line. The national line is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the service has been primarily set up to support Britons, especially the elderly, who have been unable to take advantage of the boom in online church services.

The Archbishop added: "With many in our country on lockdown, it's important that we support those who are feeling lonely and isolated, whatever age they are." Callers to Daily Hope will hear a special greeting from the Archbishop, before being given several options to chose from such as hymns, prayers, reflections and advice on Covid-19.

Morning Prayer

Anyway, thank you all for your prayers and support, and please do keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

God Bless.

Rev Jo

MONDAY 27 April 2020

Good morning everyone, 

I hope this finds you all well, as we are here at the Rectory. With Saturday being my day off, we went for another lovely walk, though I must admit there were more folk out there than had previously been.  We ventured up to No-man's Land Orchard just above Harbledown.  I first discovered this orchard several years ago when the children were small - for those of you not familiar with it, have a look at this.  We used to pick up fallen apples and they played on the sculpture of a serpent. How theological is that to find in the midst of a beautiful apple orchard?  Something to reflect upon.  I will send some photos through to Samuel for the website; it was absolutely stunning!

I do encourage you to continue to send pictures, to Samuel, or to me, and I can forward them.  But what is happening at the moment is history in the making, and so important that as a church community we have a record of this, for folk to read in years to come. Recently we have been making photo books of the year, where you can get printed books with your photos. The one for this year will be quite something for our archives. I feel it is so important we have a tangible record of what we have been up to; the lives of our church and community during Lockdown 2020. Perhaps there are some budding poets/artists out there to create something as a keepsake. We are certainly taking photos on a regular basis and scrap book things; something I started when at school and still maintain. So important to have tangible things when so much of what we do is digital, and how will the digital be accessed in years to come? That's why I am sure photo books are popular.  You can just pick them up and look.

Journaling is something that many folk do, to write their thoughts down.  For some it is a means of deepening our relationship with God; be it a prayer diary, a conversation with God; something to reflect back upon and to see where God was working, although it may not be obvious at the time.  There will be much in the literature and theological books etc reflecting on this current situation, and how church and society have responded. It certainly is history in the making, and something each and everyone of us is in the midst of.

Anyway, on a more practical level, please find attached Refectory Catering Services menu for the week, along with my sermon from yesterday - Samuel, please can you upload my sermon?

And after our services this week, please do let me know if you would like to read/intercessions - those who have done so already, it has been great, and it really isn't that difficult, do speak to Ana (usual office number 786109) or to someone who has done it already.

On a positive note, I spoke to Daphne yesterday, and Michael is off the ventilator, which is really good news, and they were able to wave to one another on screen, which is wonderful. So thank you for your prayers, and please keep them going, as he remains weak, but heading in the right direction, thank you God.

I can't easily upload Morning Prayer to YouTube this morning, but you can see it here.

God Bless you all, and please do keep safe, keep connected, and keep praying.

Rev Jo

FRIDAY 24 April 2020

Good morning everyone, 

The sun continues to shine and we are all well here at the Rectory at the end of another week.  This week seems to have gone by very quickly.  Perhaps that is what happens as you get older!  We have been blessed with good weather through during this lockdown time.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to catch up both with my mentor/pastoral supervisor in the morning and Spiritual Director in the afternoon, as part of our support network the diocese ensures all clergy have a mentor, regardless of whether you are a relative newbie like me, or someone who has been in ordained ministry for a long time.  This is an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas and discuss the more practical aspects of ministry etc. Yesterday we discussed the practice of celebrating the Eucharist online.


This is  something I have been doing since the onset of lockdown, and I would welcome your thoughts on this, and I fully appreciate that there is a very mixed view about this, as there is amongst clergy; I can forward clip if you are interested. When I do so, it is doing so as The Body of Christ, and receiving on behalf of us all, each and every one of us.  The Body of Christ.

To help my thinking I was directed to a YouTube clip which I found really helpful and for me affirming, but also in recognition that we hold different views and that is OK. 

In the afternoon I spent time with my Spiritual Director (on Zoom) - this is someone with whom I can thrash out those more spiritual questions that come to the fore.  Though, to be honest, there is some overlap, but really good to ponder those bigger questions and good to have that support. The question which I know is asked, 'Where is God in all this?'

I know that Brian is leading Bible Study which is on email and proving very popular, but to add to that, if anyone would like to be involved in a Zoom discussion group to share thoughts and ideas in these times, do let me know.  Or even if you are struggling with what this means to us on an individual basis, please do feel free to chat one-to-one to either myself or others on the ministry team. We are all in this together, and if nothing else, this is an opportunity to reflect on some of these questions that might be coming to the fore.  On the other hand, it is also a time to breathe, and in the words of the Psalmist: 'Be still and know that I am God', and to enjoy God's beautiful and bountiful creation.

Today's reading from Colossians 3:12 again spoke very powerfully, 'Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience....above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony'.

Morning Prayer

Attached also is a flyer to keep vigilant re scams.

So no Morning Prayer from me tomorrow, as it's my rest day.  I may see you for Sunday Eucharist at 10.00 hrs and will send Orders of Service etc out later.

Readers and intercessors: If this is something you can do please do let me know.  We need readers and intercessors for our Sunday services - it really is straight forward and Ana is more than happy to help.  No question is a stupid question - we are all learning together!

Update from Daphne re Michael: I spoke again yesterday to Michael, who remains on a ventilator, is stable, and along with cricket is listening to services streamed from the Cathedral. So please continue to hold Michael and Daphne in your prayers, and Daphne thanks you all for the prayers and support you are giving, which she very much appreciates.

Keep safe, keep connected, and keep praying.

God Bless!

Rev Jo (Prayers for you all)

THURSDAY 23 April 2020

Good morning everyone, 

Yet another blue sky day - the sun continues to shine.  May I begin with a thank you for all the birthday wishes.  It was certainly one to remember.  I wonder how many of us will share 'lockdown birthdays' though following the news yesterday.  It could be quite a few of us! Just make the party bigger when we can celebrate together.  But seriously, I was very touched, so thank you - but I still didn't win at Catan!! Never mind, it's taking part that matters!! 

So it was two years ago today that I was licensed as your Rector in that wonderful service in St Dunstan's, for which I have so many fond memories! It really was an incredible evening and still brings a smile to my face with ringing the bell and nearly going up with the rope, and then sprinkling as many of you as possible with holy water!! For me it was a joyous occasion, and to have so many family and friends there as well, along with so many of you.

Thank you for all your on-going support and prayers since then. Between us we have achieved a lot. I know it was initially a case of getting some of the bureaucracy under our belt - my arrival coincided within a month of the deadline for GDPR, so we had to undertake that challenge. (But in fact without it, we wouldn't have had so many of the contact details we have for you all now to enable us to keep in touch). We then had the mandatory safeguarding training from the diocese that needed to be done, along with getting to know one another.

Then last year we undertook our worship review, which I continue to draw upon, along with our Benefice Away Day, when we focused on the identity of our three churches and what they offer in terms of their strengths...but I am sure like you I do wonder what church will look like the other side of all this; something for certain is that in some way we will continue with our on-line presence. Some very interesting articles in the Church Times last week related to this and how the church is connecting with far more folk than previously, which is certainly reflected in our own numbers. But it's spiritual growth that counts.  There was one really interesting comment yesterday from Lyons, our local funeral directors. A couple of months ago when I had a number of funerals, we were saying how few funerals are taken by religious ministers - down to about 15%. Yesterday they said the majority of folk are asking for a religious minister - very interesting.

Much to ponder over, and recognising that these are very different times now, but we are the Body of Christ, and we are Christ to each other, and see Christ in the other. 

On a sad note, many of you knew Jo Durkin, particularly from St Peter's and St Mildred's.  She has recently died (April 15th) and her funeral will take place at Barham on 11th May, with an opportunity for a service of thanksgiving for her life once our churches are open.  In the meantime, please do keep her family in your prayers as they mourn her loss.  May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Morning Prayer

Words from our reading today, St George's day, from Joshua 1: 'Keep strong and keep courageous'.

Bless you all, and keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo

WEDNESDAY 22 April 2020

Good morning everyone, hope all is well with you all, and you are keeping safe. All well here at The Rectory - as I celebrate a lockdown birthday!! Certainly one to remember! And the sun continues to shine.  We have certainly been blessed with glorious weather these past few weeks.  I think it has only rained the once, and that was last Saturday. 

Yesterday I was reflecting about our church buildings being shut, and a couple of you advised that all churches were shut in 1208 under the Interdict of Pope Innocent III.  This was through a dispute with King John over the appointment of new ABC.  It lasted then 6 years! Well I am pretty certain all three of our churches were there then, and survived that so, God willing, this will be a little pause and before long we will be open.

This is brief this morning as I have a Chapter meeting on Zoom at 10.30, an opportunity for the clergy of Canterbury Deanery to catch up with one another, and compare our Covid-hairstyles!  Mine is certainly growing, as you will have noticed.  The thing is I don't get to see you, unless you join us for a Zoom coffee morning, though it was lovely to catch up with someone the other day on WhatsApp, so always happy to chat on WhatsApp.  To see others makes a difference!

I was really touched this morning by a passage from Colossians  2. 5, 'For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in Spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ'.  Some encouraging words from Paul to us all.

God Bless, and will update you later re Michael once I have spoken to Daphne this morning. 

Bye for now and please do keep safe, keep praying and keep connected. 

Morning Prayer

Rev Jo

TUESDAY 21 April 2020

Good morning everyone, and I do hope this continues to find you all well, as we are here, and another glorious day, though I do feel for our gardeners. I know it rained on Saturday, which was welcome, but I would have thought a bit more was needed. It does help though with the lockdown that when we do exercise, albeit out in the garden, it is lovely.

Yesterday for my exercise I went to all three of our churches, just to the outside, and walked around each. In doing so I was reflecting that this really must be the first time in history that they have been shut like this; something that I would never have thought would happen, but such a sense that although our beautiful church buildings are closed, we, the church, the Body of Christ is very much open, and we are just learning to be Church in a very different way. 

We were talking this morning at breakfast about how so many books will be written about this, and I am sure from a theological/mission perspective, of meeting people where they are at, of what it means to 'be church' during this time. Though, like you, I do so miss seeing you all -  Zoom coffee morning does help! I was reading this morning in the paper, how we are missing that physical contact - a handshake or a hug, a tap on the shoulder, or that spontaneous laugh together, the twinkle in the eye.  Later today I have a funeral and afterwards folk would normally offer a hand for a heartfelt handshake, or a hug, but none of that - instead we will be social distancing and acknowledging one another from afar. 

It is remembering though that God is in all of this.  Yes, God is present in our empty churches, but also with us in our homes and hospitals, working on the streets. Seeing Christ in the other, and being Christ to the other. Perry sent through a really powerful clip that reflected this (attached below), worth watching.

In the meantime, I need to get ready to robe for Barham, as we say our goodbyes to Geoffrey Jordan, a Canterbury man, who was married at St Mildred's.

Attached also is the latest menu from Refectory Catering Services, a link from Canterbury City Council with a list and details of all those who deliver food etc.

Link for food deliveries - excellent! Find a local delivery service here.

YouTube clip from Perry, as mentioned, worth watching.

Morning Prayer from today.

Ana is putting together a guide to using Zoom, YouTube etc, which will get to you.

God Bless you all, and keep praying, keep safe and keep connected.

Rev Jo

MONDAY 20 April 2020

Good morning everyone, and I do hope this continues to find you all well, and keeping strong in these strange times, as we continue with our lockdown, all remains well at The Rectory. School and Uni terms are back, though difficult for my daughter who had had her GCSEs 'pulled', and normally this term is full-on with revision and then exams, so we are awaiting to hear what school will suggest to keep year 11 focused on from now until September, when A-levels begin.

This is also an opportunity for us to read, I must admit I have several theological books on my shelf that I bought with all good intentions of reading but have failed to do so, or at least have started but not finished. Any good books folk have read recently?

So after reading the paper yesterday, and reflecting on this time away from our church buildings - I do wonder when we will be back together again, and what that may look like, and what does our Christian mission and ministry look like at the moment? It is a case of keeping in touch with one another - checking up on friends and neighbours - to follow that hunch to call someone, perhaps you haven't spoken to for a while; remaining ever mindful that we are all in this together. To keep connected, to keep safe and to keep praying - taking that time to spend in prayer, that opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. I looked at the material I sent on Friday - Retreat in Lockdown - it looks promising.

Attached is a helpful document from KCC, along with Rev Hannah's Easter Holiday Club material for young people - please do forward it to any you feel might like it.

Morning Prayer from today - it is a bit windy, but you can hear it!

God Bless, and please keep connected, keep praying and keep safe.

Rev Jo

FRIDAY 17 April 2020

Good morning everyone, and hope this continues to find you all well - as we are here at The Rectory, and the sun shines again today - we have been so fortunate with the weather during this lockdown, though not easy for those who are isolating indoors with no garden. I must admit I do feel for those who are living in high rise apartments who do not have the availability of outdoor spaces. In a former life I was a community physio working in SE London, and part of my patch was to provide a domiciliary physiotherapy service to folk who lived in such tower blocks. It is to them for whom this must be so challenging, and particularly so when trying to home school, as so many parents have been asked to do, and of course all the concerns surrounding domestic abuse in this challenging time. What we can do in this time of lockdown is pray, as Bishop Rose recently said, prayer is our heart beat, it is our oxygen, and may this be such an opportunity to have that dedicated time of prayer. 

Prayer can take place anywhere, at anytime - as many of you join me for Morning Prayer from the garden there is something rather special about praying outdoors - to be closer to nature in a way, and God's beautiful creation.

Reflecting upon yesterday - this end was attending to emails which had come in whilst I was away, planning for a couple of funerals - Frances Quested who lived in St Dunstan's most of her life died recently, along with Geoff Jordan, who was confirmed and married in St Mildred's some time ago. Then catching up with folk on the phone, and all seems to be well, and let's pray things stay that way, then in the evening we joined with others here for our 8.00 clap, and yes that was followed by another game of Catan - and no didn't win - then watched MasterChef on TV - so who I wonder will win? (I don't normally watch much TV, but this I do enjoy).

No Morning Prayer tomorrow from me  (Saturday), but Compline at 7.00 this evening, and Eucharist on Sunday at 10.00 live streamed on Facebook Live, then uploaded to YouTube.

Morning Prayer

From today's psalm, 115: " But we will bless the Lord, from this time forth for evermore, Alleluia"

In the meantime, do keep connected, keep praying and keep safe.

Rev Jo

THURSDAY 16 April 2020

Good morning everyone,  I hope this finds you all well, having been away for a couple of days - well not away, rather on leave - R & R following Holy Week and Easter, and yes we are all well here. Thank you for all your Easter wishes, cards, thoughts and prayers, all very much appreciated.

In fact I was meant to have been walking this week long distance foot paths- Jim & I are currently walking the Weald Way here in Kent (Mon & Tues this week), and then I had planned a trip Weds - Fri walking from Canterbury - Herne Bay - Margate - Ramsgate - Minster - Canterbury - but wasn't to be - and no I didn't do the equivalent to laps in the garden! Rather spent down time at home with the family, time in the garden, and doing some of those jobs one puts off!

And although we are still in lockdown, the sun still shines and Christ has Risen! This has certainly been an Easter to remember - our Churches are empty, but Christ is Risen, and present among us and with us, present in our hospitals and in the supermarkets, in our homes and in us. We are The Body of Christ, and "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 6:19).

So catching up with emails etc today, and will be in touch with those of you who are happy to do a reading, and please do come forward if others want to give it a go.

Attached is this week's menu from Refectory Catering.

In the meantime,  keep well, keep connected and keep praying.

Morning Prayer

God Bless.

Rev Jo


Good morning, Alleluia! He is Risen!

He is risen

Well normally at this time we would be having our Easter Breakfast having had our dawn vigil service but that is not to be this year, and we will light our Paschal Candles when we can celebrate together in our churches. 

Meanwhile this morning, we will be streaming a service from the Rectory.  I will light a candle and encourage you all to do likewise in your homes, to represent the Risen Lord Jesus risen today.  Service at 10.00 hrs on our Facebook page, and then on our YouTube channel.  Follow the Order of Service, readings and hymns.

We will also be having a couple of hymns.  Thanks to David for playing and Charlotte for singing.  Also Charlotte will be singing the Exultant.

Photos: Please do send any pictures that you have of Easter Trees and decorations to our website: dmpphotos.canterbury@gmail.com  Thank you to the Mothers' Union for their tree, which has been compiled by the MU members of St Dunstan.

I attach a photo sent to me yesterday from Maurice who is involved with L'arche, who placed an Easter garden outside the door of St Mildred's church.

We will also be uploading a powerful reflection from Douglas onto our website, about death and resurrection.

I am  taking leave from Mon-Weds this week any queries to our Churchwardens, and thank you all for your messages of support and prayers.

Wishing you all a blessed Easter, and do keep connected, keep safe and keep praying.

God Bless.

Rev Jo


Good morning Everyone

Easter garden - St Mildred

It really does feel strange today.  Holy Saturday, an inbetween day.  Some call it an empty day.  For many of us, it is also a day of preparation for our Easter celebrations tomorrow, when our churches are being decorated.  The smell of the lilies, the music being prepared, the alter linen is all being prepared, the Paschal candle will have been prepared, and I know Conrad was preparing for the Easter Vigil this year. We were having it at St Peter's and out the front of the church on the decking and all ready for 5.00 am.  Then we were planning our Easter Breakfast.  I was then looking forward to celebrating my first Easter at St Dunstan's (last year I was at St Peter's) and singing together, Thine Be the Glory.

And it's not to be, and it really hit me this morning, not being with you all as we celebrate this festival together.  We are all at home; some I know alone, and that must be so tough.  I am fortunate the family is here (though son in Manchester) and we have a garden we can enjoy but it's not the same and it is really tough. 

The women when they approached the tomb, found it empty, as our churches too are empty.  Although we live in this inbetween time,  we have hope that one day, hopefully soon, we will be together again, and what a celebration that will be!  We can decorate our churches, light the Pascal candles, sing Thine be the Glory together and  celebrate together.  In the meantime, we hang onto that hope.  We are Easter people.  Unlike those women, we know what that empty tomb signified.

I pray for you all, and as we all prepare for tomorrow in our own way, may I assure you of my prayers, and tomorrow I will  for my daily exercise lay flowers at the door of each of our churches (as others have mentioned this), at least in recognition that that there is hope.

In the meantime, just to alert St Dunstan's folk: we have read the guidelines from the Church of England and we are not allowed to wind our clock until church is open again.

As for tomorrow, I will take a Eucharist here on behalf of us all, as The Body of Christ.  We also have some musical contributions.  We have to have a streaming licence (an extension of our normal CCLI licence) for the service to be uploaded onto our website.   FaceBook Live and YouTube are OK as long as it is not a professional pre-recording.  We have Charlotte singing and David Clark playing so hopefully that will all work.  (Thank you David & Charlotte).

In the meantime, I wish you all a very joyous Easter when it comes, from us all at the Rectory; certainly an Easter to remember and to reflect upon.

Thank you to Carolyn and Iain who informed that yesterday's poem from Phillipa is by Rev Edward Monro (b 1815) The third part (The story of the Cross) of 'In his own raiment clad.'

Please note I am on leave Mon-Wed next week.  Any queries, please do contact our churchwardens.  There will be no streamed Morning Prayer, but that will be back at 9.00 hrs on Thursday 16 April.

From today's Psalm 142: 'I cry out to you, O Lord, and say: 'you are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living'.'

In the meantime, please keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Rev Jo 

PS. We are all well here...


Good Friday

Good morning to you all this Good Friday morning, the day we focus upon the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

All is well here this morning, and hope and pray all is well with you all.

This morning do join us for Stations of the Cross led by Rev Brian McHenry at 10.00 hrs: found here.  Thank you Brian.  

Walk of Witness from Christian Together in Canterbury - details from yesterday's email.

Then at 14.00 hrs this afternoon, we will have Readings and Reflections on the Last Hour of the Cross, led by our Ministry Team and streamed live.  Thank you Team!

Any more readers and intercessors out there will be great.  Audio is fine.  Ana is back in the office on Tuesday and is more than happy to talk you through it - send her an email. 

Phillipa found this poem which I am including today, author unknown.

Reflections for Good Friday

On the Cross lifted

Thy face I scan

Bearing that Cross for me

Son of Man.

Thorns from Thy diadem

Rough wood Thy throne

For us Thy cross is borne

Us alone

No pillow under Thee

To rest Thy head

Only the wooden Cross

Is Thy bed

I read Thy title, Lord

Inscribed above

“Jesus of Nazareth”

King of Love


Will send details out later re service for Sunday, and Zoom coffee morning for Sunday

Keep safe, keep connected (Thank you for all your emails - and fab photos.  Ann, your Hot Cross Buns look delicious!) and keep praying.

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and another beautiful sunny day, and the bird song is just amazing - for those of you who join me for Morning Prayer - I feel the birds are all there joining in, with the angels and archangels!

All well here, we are certainly getting into a routine, and saying how nice it is to have lunch together and supper together - all eating together in the evenings we are really cherishing, normally something we just do Friday - Sunday, what with meetings for Jim & I, and netball, they are often staggered. 

So yesterday we said our final goodbye to Marjorie Lyle, though I do assure you that as soon as we are open again we will have a service of thanksgiving for her life in St Dunstan's. It was tough yesterday as mourners are limited to 10, and with the social distancing, was really difficult.

Today is Maundy Thursday, when we focus this evening on the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples, before the Watch, when he prayed alone in the garden of Gethsemane; before the meal Jesus washed his disciple's feet, and he says the words "I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done to you", and such true words today in this difficult time, with so many helping others, but also sometimes it is difficult to ask for help, but we are all in this together, that I do assure you, and God is with us and amongst us - we are Christ to one another, in showing care and compassion, and thank you for all your words of encouragement, prayers and support, which are much appreciated.

May I assure you that I keep you in my prayers, and during the Watch tonight will be praying for you all by name.

What's On:

Maundy Thursday:

7.30  Eucharist of the Last Supper & The Watch. FaceBook Live (You don't have to join Facebook to watch) 

Orders of Service sent last night, attached again. This will then be posted on our YouTube Channel

Good Friday:

10.00 Stations of the Cross led by Brian McHenry. Please download booklet attached and visit here on our YouTube Channel. Details also on our website.

11.30 On-line Walk of Witness: Churches together Canterbury with prayers and reflections by ministers across Canterbury, inc. Rev Jo, found at: https://vimeo.com/405066601

2.00 - 3.00 Last Hour of the Cross with readings and reflections led by our Ministry Team, follow FaceBook Live 

Easter Day

A Eucharist will be live-streamed at 10.00, but I would want to light the Paschal Candle and re-new Baptismal vows once we are all back together, and have a an Easter Celebration then!

Today's psalm is one of my favourites, Psalm 42: verse 7: "O put your trust in God, for I will give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance, and my God"

God Bless, and keep safe, keep praying, and keep connected.

Rev Jo


Good evening everyone, hope your day has gone well, and still keeping safe....all well here, just wanted to pass onto you the Order of Service for tomorrow evening's Eucharist of the Last Supper.

The service will begin live at 7.30 pm  and last for about 40 minutes, followed by The Watch, which will be for an hour - a chance for prayer and silent reflection. This will be streamed live on our Facebook Page - Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, it is a public site, so you don't have to join Facebook to watch it (if you click it now you get Compline from this evening).

Compline from this evening also found on our YouTube channel.

Order of Service for Maundy Thursday attached, along with the liturgy that I will be using if you would like to follow that.

Bye for now, good night and God Bless.

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, another bright spring morning.  All well here at the Rectory (though not seen the girls yet - too early for them!). 

I have been reflecting on this Holy Week, how very different it is, as the Triduum will be, from Maundy Thursday through to Easter Day; not just for us but for Christians all around the world as we celebrate either on our own, or with those we live with. 

In years gone by, there have been the lectures at the Cathedral.  The ones I most vividly remember were by Archbishop Rowan, with his reflections on Spirituality (I think that was 2011?).  Then last year's were very good, by Archbishop Justin, who reflected on some pictures and his interpretation of them.

As we continue to be in lockdown, I am like you living in hope.  Hope that it won't be too long before we will be allowed out; hope that it won't be too long before we gather together again in our churches; hope that life will return to normal but I do wonder what that 'normal' will look like.  There is also hope that Sunday will come, Easter Day, but first we must travel through these three most poignant of days to get there.

Resources: With our Redemptorist Readings, other digital material has been released - some reflections on the readings etc. are worth looking at and I have asked Ana to upload to the Resources section of our website (under Readings and Reflections).

Photos:  Gallery is looking good (thank you Samuel) and please do send pics through - at the end of this we could make a wonderful picture board!

Readers & Intercessors: We now have readers for our services this week (thank you) but looking forward, it would be great if we could have some volunteers.  The clergy/readers are preaching and reading Gospel, but please can we have volunteers to do an audio recording for first reading, second reading, psalm, and intercessions (four folk per service).  Ana is more than happy to talk you through what you have to do, but if you have a smart phone, you can download the voice recorder app (most phones have anyway), press record button, record, save, and send to me as a file. I am sending service sheets for tomorrow later today, and will also attach a form with the dates and the readings etc.  Thank you in anticipation!

God bless you all, and please today keep the family of Marjorie Lyle in your prayers, as I take her funeral at Barham this afternoon, and hopefully it won't be too long before we can celebrate and give thanks for her life in church.

Keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Morning prayer

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, hope this continues to find you all well this morning.  It is another beautiful day out there.  All well here at the Rectory, with the four of us getting into a routine of a 'new norm'. 

So, yesterday I spent time in the office (all well there), printing off resources, bulletin, and getting readings for our folk who are off-line.  Then along to the post office at St Stephen's (which incidentally is now open 10.00 - 3.00) to post these....that was my exercise for the day - do miss my walks around the city.

So plans for today, after morning prayer, Zoom meeting, and then more planning for our services for this week, along with catching up with folk by phone, and not forgetting my daily exercise!

However,  please do come forward if you feel able to record a reading or intercessions as per my email yesterday.  An audio reading is fine, you don't have to do a video.  A recording can be done on a phone, nothing fancy is needed!

Reminder of upcoming services this Holy Week:

Morning Prayer: 9.00 hrs

Compline: 19.00 hrs from the Rectory Tues & Weds

Maundy Thursday

Liturgy for Maundy Thursday: 7.30

Good Friday

Stations of the Cross: 10.00 hrs led by Rev Brian McHenry (details to follow)

The Last Hour of the Cross: 14.00 hrs Readings and reflections

Easter Day

Eucharist streamed from the Rectory at 10.00 hrs.

Also do check the Cathedral website, which are providing reflections for Holy Week.

God Bless you all!

Morning prayer

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone,

I hope this finds you all well on this Monday of Holy Week...and lovely to have had so many of you follow our service yesterday - it is so very strange, but it is certainly doing church in a very different way, and we are having folk who wouldn't necessary come to our churches tuning in, both on FaceBook Live, and then views on YouTube - as are all our churches - virtual congregations are certainly thriving...something to reflect upon when we come through this, and how do we keep our presence both physically and digitally...thoughts?

So we look towards Holy Week and for some, this 'lock down' could be quite challenging especially as we have no end in sight but we have hope.  This week we have to go through Good Friday to get to Easter Day - so we will get there but it may be tough on the way.

Services for the week:

It would be really good to have as many folk as possible involved with readings, and intercessions.  You don't have to be a regular reader or intercessor in church, rather be able to record either video or audio and then send to me.

We really can do this together!

We need the following:

Maundy Thursday:

First Reading Exodus 12: 1-4, 11-14

Psalm 116, 1, 10-end

Second reading 1 Corinthians 11 23-26


Good Friday:

Stations of the Cross: Brian McHenry

Last Hour of the Cross: Rev. Kevin was down for this at St Dunstan's so waiting to hear what he may have in mind.

Easter Day:

First reading Jeremiah 31 1-6

Psalm: 118 1-2, 14-24

Second Reading: Acts 10 34-43

Please do give this a thought - we are all (myself included!) on a very steep learning curve, so great if we can put something together between us!

God Bless, and please do keep sending your photos to Samuel.

Keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.

Morning prayer

Words from today's Psalm 41, "And so Lord be merciful to me: heal me, for I have sinned against you".

Rev Jo


Hello everyone,

Another sunny day here but it is so strange, and am missing you, especially this morning, at least in the knowledge that many of you were there watching, but it really isn't the same...

So here is the link that will take you to the service, and a steep learning curve for us all.

All well here and hope with you, keep connected, keep praying and safe.

God Bless.

Rev Jo


Hello everyone,

Just a brief note from me today, as is my day off but just wanted to send through the Order of Service for tomorrow, along with the readings and bulletin. All is well here and we have been enjoying spending some time in the garden (though did venture out to Morrisons this morning!)
The Palm Sunday Eucharist will be streamed live at 10.00 hrs from the Rectory - this can be seen on FaceBook Live if you follow this link, it will take you straight there: You don't have to join Facebook to watch, as it is a public post.

It will then be on our YouTube Channel once I have uploaded it after the service, and I will send a link through once I have uploaded it.

Attached are the following:
Order of Service for tomorrow in Word.doc St Dunstan & St Mildred
Booklet for Holy Week & Easter
Refectory Catering Services menu for w/c 6th April
Readings for tomorrow.

You will see from the Bulletin that there will be Compline Monday - Weds of Holy Week at 19.00 hrs, then service from here Maundy Thursday, Stations of the Cross on Good Friday Morning, Last Hour of the Cross in the afternoon, and then service here on Easter Day at 10.00 hrs.

Will keep you up to speed with everything.

God Bless, keep connected, keep safe and keep praying.

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone,

Well, at least I got the date right today and hope this finds you all well, as we are here at the Rectory.  So what did we get up to yesterday - a routine, if you can call it that, is beginning to emerge - writing this and then Morning Prayer, which I will then upload to our new YouTube channel which is now up and running...send this off to you all, and then catching up with emails, planning for Holy Week and Easter - and working out what we can and can't do online, putting together Orders of Service, etc. 

Then in the afternoons I am putting aside time to catch up with folk on the phone, touching base and keeping as connected as I can...that is interspersed with our daily exercise, which entailed a trip down to Hedges Butchers, and then back via the expanse of grass between us and the university behind us, where we had a good game of throw and catch (exercise for the day - photo sent to Samuel!)

I will forward to you (easier that way) St Dunstan's Resident's Newsletter which has some helpful information on.

Please keep a close eye on email for plans for Palm Sunday - we are finalising the arrangements for this, streaming it live as we did last week, with a dramatized reading of the Passion Gospel, followed by a Zoom Coffee morning...watch this space for more info.

Here is a link to YouTube for this morning's Morning Prayer.

Meanwhile, from this morning's reading from Hebrews 13.6, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid".

Take care, keep connected, keep praying and keep safe.

God Bless.

Rev Jo

THURSDAY 2 April 2020

Good morning, and another sunny day here at the Rectory and all is well - getting into a routine, as I sense we all probably are of this 'new norm'.

Yesterday was spent on emails and calls, good to hear that so many of you are ringing around other folk, and especially those who aren't on this email.

Resources: Do check out this website for resources - everything that I have sent through to you, if you have missed it, is under Resources.

Holy Week & Easter: Am currently putting together literature for this and will send to you all by email, and for those without will post.

Palm Crosses: We are not permitted to distribute palm crosses (CofE guidance yesterday), so as I suggested yesterday perhaps if we make them or even make one for your front door, a little one like a wreath - that is what I might try and do here, and then we can take photos for our website.

Reflections for Holy Week: It would be good if we could perhaps have a daily reflection next week in the morning, if you would like to email one to me and then I can incorporate it into this briefing to you all.
YouTube channel:  We now have a YouTube Channel where you will be able to see our services that have been pre-recorded.  I will speak with Ana & Martin today to get this direct link (click above).  Our two services are uploaded. 

From today's Psalm 40: "You are my helper and my deliverer, oh my God make no delay".

Keep safe, keep well and keep connected.

God Bless 

Rev Jo

WEDNESDAY 1 April 2020

Good morning everyone,

I hope you are all well on this rather cold and frosty morning and it is April 1st - so lots to think about. 

Who would have thought, on April 1st a year ago I have just looked in my diary, and we were all full-on with our Parish activities - it was a Monday - Lent Course, poetry group, hall and fabric meeting...who would have thought a year on we would be 'locked down'.  This has certainly made me think, as am sure it has for all of us.

Being creative: It is an opportunity for us all perhaps to stop and think - an enforced 'pause' but I wonder what life will be like the other side of this? For those who are poets/artists - do be creative.  When we come out the other end of this, perhaps we can have a 'picture board' of what we have done or made, written or painted.  For those who are knitters/crocheters maybe making some symbols of hope...a cross/heart/bells/flowers....just a thought, and as we had our churches adorned with poppies a couple of years ago we could do the same for when we return from exile....food for thought!

Palm CrossesMany of you would have returned your palm crosses to church to be burnt on Ash Wednesday, so how about making one - out of paper or twigs from the garden.  Again be creative.  Then on Sunday in our service which will be streamed from the Rectory we can use them.....

Any thoughts about being creative, do email them through...

Words from today's psalm, Psalm 55: "Hear my prayer, O God, hide not yourself from my petition".

God Bless you all, keep safe, keep praying and keep connected.

Rev Jo

PS I won at Catan last night! Sending photo to Samuel!


Good morning everyone,

Another beautiful sunny day, and so  quiet - sitting here I can hear the birdsong from the garden, and so few vapour trails across the sky - reminds me of the time of the Ash Cloud in 2010 - we got stranded in Malta, could have been worse! Whilst there all flights were suspended, so we had the choice to either sit by the pool for another week, or make our own way back - being adventurous we opted for the latter - the first cargo ship out of Malta to Italy was going in a few days - so we took it - ironically our visit coincided with the Pope, so we did get to attend Mass with him, prior to leaving - took a couple of days, but got back eventually via ship and train, and then a flight....

All well here at the Rectory - the four of us all in our rooms/study, meeting for lunch, tea and supper, but we do go out for our prescribed exercise, and then games in the evening - Catan again - still haven't won, but did win Rummikub the other evening (note St Mildred's folk!!) a bonus of this stay at home - no evening meetings, and board games!! (will take a picture tonight)

So yesterday spent working with Ana (via WhatsApp) to get  our YouTube Channel up and running - so will be live streaming from that rather than FaceBook Live - instructions will be forth coming. Being so media-savvy wasn't something that was taught at theological college, so learning on the hoof as they say - but we are all in the same boat!

Then emails, phone calls, and planning dear Marjorie's funeral - all being well will be having a memorial service in church in due course, but please keep family in your prayers.

Palm Sunday: I have booklets which I will email out with the Passion Reading, I now have a Zoom account - what that means is I email you the password, which you then log in, and then as many as possible of you join and we can do the Passion Reading - need 3 key readers, and then crowd as though, good to have folk from across the Benefice. We would need to do a practice before the service on Sunday - but please email me if interested...

Photos: Do keep sending photos through as we are getting quite a gallery - looking good. dmpphotos.canterbury@gmail.com
Off now for Morning Prayer...to be continued! Those who are following Morning Prayer - will be moving to YouTube, but will keep you posted.
Children's activity sheet: Please forward this to any of our children and young people who might be interested - it is compiled by Rev. Hannah - as part of our 'Holiday Club' - All Saints, St Paul's and our three churches - is really excellent material.
Bible Study - not too late to join our bible study/discussion which is soon to begin with Rev. Brian (email above)
Attachments can be found in Resources page:
Children Activity sheets
Menu for Refectory Catering. 

Words from today's reading from Hebrews 12:1-2: "Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God"

Have a good day!

Keep praying, keep safe and keep connected.

God Bless

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone

 Hope this finds you all well, as we enter our second week of 'lockdown'.  All well here at the Rectory, and what a strange time we are in.  It was lovely to have so many of you able to share our service yesterday morning - and what a long Gospel that was!  Thank you Brian for your weekend.  So now we are in Passiontide,] and in both St Mildred's and St Peter's yesterday we would have marked this by veiling the church - putting coverings over the crosses, acknowledging that this is a step change in our Lenten journey and our walk towards the Cross. 

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and we have produced booklets which you would all have had in church but I will send these out on-line.  It would be good to work on this so we can have different voices.  There is something called Zoom, which will enable us to do this - and you really don't have to be techy to do this so many folk tell me, (including my parents who are doing their bible study via Zoom).  So more details tomorrow about that.
Website:  I have asked Ana to be responsible for uploading resources onto that so if you come across anything interesting which might be helpful to others, please send it to Ana and I and between us we can get it on there.  This is really useful.  If you open it, you will see that Jennie who does the Canterbury Fruit Stall is now doing a delivery service.  Again, if you are on the phone to folk who are off-line, please do tell them when you are on the phone to them, and give them her number 07557785549.

Photos: please do keep sending them to Samuel.

Holy Week: We will be providing some resources for these.

From today's Psalm: 73: "Yet I am always with you, you hold me by my right hand".

Brian's sermon from yesterday (thank you Brian) is already uploaded onto the website.

Keep safe, keep praying and keep connected....off now for Morning Prayer, 9.00 
Facebook Live.
God Bless
Rev Jo


Dear Friends,
Hope this finds you well.  This is a brief update this morning as today is my rest day, other than to say all is well at the Rectory - another game of Catan last night and my daughter won again!  (Google it if you don't know what I am talking about!) then hopefully today some Rummikub.  Got introduced to that game by Tuesday Club at St Mildred's - brilliant game, and then hopefully some time in the garden.
Yesterday spent much of the morning on the phone and emails and then in the afternoon I have printed off  updates for our off-line folk, along with our Worship at Home booklets etc.  I took them to the post office to post so hopefully they will get there today, and be up to speed with everything.
Attachments: Several attachments:
  • Flyer from Refectory Catering Services (Jamie is a member of St Mildred's who runs a local catering business and is now doing home deliveries of meals)
  • Bulletin
Canterbury City Council: Please do register with them as per yesterday's briefing.  I have been in touch with them.  They are putting together a phone number for those not on-line, so that they too can register (that's 22 of our folk); hopefully available next week.

Photos:  Please do send any pics to dmpphotos.canterbury@gmail.com  So lovely to see your pictures on our website.  Keep sending them in.  You can send more than one, as it would be great to have a gallery of this time, and thanks to Samuel for uploading.

Keep safe, keep connected and keep praying.  No streamed Morning Prayer today - I encourage you to say it quietly yourselves, as I will, but will be back at 9.00 hrs on Monday.  See you tomorrow (Sunday) on-line at 10.00 hrs...

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone, and another beautiful morning out there. 
Update from the Rectory. 
Hope all is well with you all....all well here at the Rectory - last night after losing at Catan (board game) that we try and play every night.  We then stepped outside and applauded our wonderful NHS - will send a picture to our photo gallery.  So yesterday worked again on our Pastoral care plan, which is pretty much in place.  Then, had to pick the car up from the garage as it's MOT had expired and filled up with petrol - then ventured into Morrisons, as not much of a queue - allowed in one at a time, and to be honest, it was OK in there, all standing 2 metres apart.  No flour at all (we do like making cakes) but did manage loo rolls and eggs!! 
Now for some practical things:
Please read this - really important from Canterbury City Council, especially point 1
"Today the following online page and forms have gone live:
1. Asking vulnerable individuals across the district to make themselves known to us https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-residents
2. Asking for fit and healthy volunteers to help get supplies and support to those in need https://www.canterbury.gov.uk/homepage/127/helping_in_your_community "
Please, please do register, even if you are OK now, in a week or two things may be different.  The virus is here in Canterbury.  The idea is that if you need help with shopping etc, help pick up prescriptions,  someone will be there for you who is registered with the council to offer this service.  This is so important.
For those who aren't on-line, I believe we can register for them - so that is where we can all help (an email address isn't needed).  Please take a look and we will work with the churchwardens to ensure all of our elderly and vulnerable are covered. 
Bible study/discussion group: Rev Brian McHenry is taking the lead with this.  This is NOT high-tech (promise).  All you need to do is to be able to email.  So if interested in joining his weekly group, please email Brian via the Benefice Office and he will get back to you with details.
Photos: Please do send your photos even a picture of your garden, or anything really - to know we are not alone.  Samuel will upload onto our website dmpphotos.canterbury@gmail.com
On-line resources: Ana and Caroline are working to get this up and running on our website.
Will send out Bulletin and readings for Sunday in due course - Services for this Sunday 29th March: 10.00 on-line from the Rectory - link on our website - details to follow.  Writing this feels so wrong - but it is not the church building - we are the church the Body of Christ, loving and supporting one another.
From today's Psalm 102: "O Lord hear my prayer, and let my crying come before you"
I have sent round Brian and Kevin's emails via email as they are there if I go down, and wardens as it is important you have their details along with Ana's.
God Bless.  Keep safe, keep connected and keep praying....off to Morning Prayer in the garden. 

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone,

I hope you are all well this morning. 
Another lovely sunny morning out there and yes, all still well here at the Rectory - husband working from home and daughters working on-line - uni and school respectively (son up in Manchester wfh). 

So a few things to update you all on:
Church buildings are closed but church is still open (photos will be in gallery - this is real��)

It really saddened me yesterday putting notices on our church buildings to say that they are shut.  As I put these on the doors (with a tear in my eye), I also realised how we are the Church; we are at this time the body of Christ at home and we must be salt and light in our local communities, and in our on-line community.  For those you know who aren't on-line, please do make a call to them.  We are setting up for our congregations phone circles so we can keep in touch with one another - do email me if you want further details.

So yesterday, having chatted to many on the phone, we set up on our website a photo gallery.  If you have already sent me photos, please can you resend to: dmpphotos.canterbury@gmail.com Samuel Woods is uploading these (thank you Samuel).  But a few 'ground rules' please: 

  • No pictures of children 
  • No pictures that can identify where you live
  • Copyright remains with the photographer, your own photos unless you have permission from the photographer. 
  • Please can you date the photo and a small caption e.g. completed jigsaw!  Over time we can then have quite a gallery of what we have been up to.  (If Samuel is unable to, we have three others who can upload them.  Samuel also uploads our sermons and we will continue with that).

Bible Study/discussion groups 

I have asked the ministerial team to explore this more - so watch this space.

On-line resources 

The Church of England is putting together lots of on-line resources at www.churchofengland.org  We are also putting together a resources page on our website so you can download Orders of Services etc.

Live Streaming

Thank you all for sharing Morning Prayer with me.  It is good to know we are doing it together.  I will also be live-streaming a service from the Rectory at 10.00 hrs on Sunday 29 March (Passion Sunday/Lent 5) - we will get readings out to you for that in due course. 

Food Bank

A message from Martin Ward, Chair of Canterbury Foodbank: 'A huge thank you to everyone who has so generously supported the food bank, at this time when so many families are struggling (to date over £15000 has been raised.  Thank you for all those who have donated via our webpage)'.

Vulnerable people: I received this yesterday, and looks very helpful.
If you/anyone in your network knows of people who may be vulnerable in these times of coronavirus but who haven't received anything from the NHS about being on the "official" vulnerable list, there is a form that can be filled in by the person or on their behalf: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.  People are encouraged to register even if they are unsure they have a condition which would make them eligible.

Food Delivery
Hedges (Butchers are doing a free home delivery service for local people: 01227 463164).
As we hear of more will let you know.  Please do share as much information with folk you know who are not on-line.  Many thanks.

God Bless and keep safe, keep praying and keep connected...remember although our church buildings are shut, church is very much open!
Bye for now, and catch up tomorrow (albeit brief as is my 'rest day')...
Rev Jo


Hope all well this morning - all OK here at the Rectory.
So yesterday, kept very busy putting together our pastoral care plan (thank goodness for telephones).  Please let me know if you know of anyone you may be concerned about or who would appreciate a call.

Then in the evening, went for a brisk walk through the city centre, which was pretty much deserted.  I wanted to go via our three churches to check at least from the outside.  It was inevitable that they were to be closed - 'building is closed, but church very much open'. 

All being well, I hope to celebrate the Eucharist here from my study at the Rectory and 'live steam' on Sunday.  Who would have thought three months ago when we were all celebrating Christmas together that this would be on the cards?....But what is encouraging in a strange way is that I feel more connected to so many of you.  Lovely to have your emails.  Apologies, I can't respond to all, but all are read - huge thank you.

So today, I have put notices on the church door/notice boards to say that the buildings are shut.  That saddens me but I guess it was inevitable - but it is the building - Church is us - the Body of Christ.

Watch this space, as looking to upload photos of the website of what folk have done, e.g. garden, an jigsaw etc, (but please no pictures of children) - watch this space.  Samuel, Martin and Caroline will be in touch about this.

Bible study: interest has been expressed to set up bible study/discussion groups online.   Could do online platforms such as Team/Zoom/ etc...anyone willing to explore this?... especially if this for the long haul.  Would be good to get something set up.
At noon we have been asked to recite the Lord's prayer by the Pope and Archbishop - I will 'live stream' then.  If you could say it at 12.00 midday.

Here at the Rectory we are lighting a candle in the window at 7.00 as we must remember - Jesus is the Light of the World.
God Bless you all and remember... keep safe, keep praying and keep connected.   ee you soon for Morning Prayer.  Yesterday we had 867 views (normally it is just one, two or three of us), and it reached 3770 folk around the world...God is moving in the most amazing ways in these most challenging times.
Also set up Twitter account: DMP Canterbury (more details later).
God Bless
Rev Jo

Tuesday 24 MARCH 2020

Good morning everyone,

What a very different world we are in this morning but may I begin with assuring you of my prayers and those on our worshippers' list.  I pray your name every evening - last night that was in St Mildred's but alas for the last time.

Bishop Rose wrote last night to say our churches are now all shut - and we are awaiting further guidance from the Church of England. So as it is a glorious day, Morning Prayer will be from the Rectory Garden at 9.00 hrs.  

  • We are contacting folk on our lists who we know are living alone and or are vulnerable.  If you fall into that category and we haven't yet been in touch please do phone today on 07824 155355
  • If you are anxious about someone, again please let me or one of the churchwardens know.
  • Morning prayer: you can find this at www.churchofengland.org or get the Daily Prayer App and we can do this all together.
  • Please do keep phoning around folk.  We are getting phone circles set up but in the meantime please keep in touch by phone or WhatsApp - and perhaps WhatsApp Video so we can see one another.  Again I am on WhatsApp 07824155355
  •  Please keep in touch with those who aren't on-line, as they don't get these updates 
  • Please forward to folk if you feel they are not on the list or would like to receive this - I can add their names.
Doing church differently (on-line) meant that we had 383 views for Morning Prayer yesterday!! (Reached 1573 folk) and for our Sunday Eucharist on Sunday, we have had over 101 views and reached 210 folk.  Although we have about 20 following live, the service can be viewed throughout the day and from around the world.  Yesterday we had folk in Australia and Singapore!

Words from today's Psalm (54), "Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life".

God Bless and keep safe, keep in touch and keep praying.

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone,
Well at least the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day out there.  Our magnolia tree here at the Rectory is looking stunning. 
It was lovely to have so many of you sharing our Eucharist yesterday morning - we have 81 views to date! And you can still see it here.  You don't have to be on Facebook to watch.  The hardest bit for me was to close and lock the church door beforehand - how crazy is that?!  But to know so may of you were there was great.  And same again next week!  We will do it from St Dunstan's as neither St Mildred's or St Peter's have internet cover (St Peter's it drops in and out).  Though whilst we can, St Peter's will be open for an hour at 12.00 and St Mildred's for an hour at 17.00 hrs, each for private prayer.  If we hear otherwise, will keep you posted (some dioceses have been instructed to shut completely, so watch this space).
You might not hear the bell at St Dunstan's this morning as we were ringing yesterday and it suddenly stopped but Len is on the case and it should be up and running again soon. Though Bell ringing at St Peter's and St Mildred's is going well, quite exhausting!
Although doing a Facebook live Morning Prayer, Evening prayer is quiet and for your personal prayer requests, so do send anything through in confidence.
So when not on the computer/phone what else are we up to here?  One jigsaw is nearly done, and we try and play a board game in the evening - as a family we love any board game.
I am wondering if we can have a photo gallery on our website and you send your photos there? 
Thank you all for your emails, prayers, and support, it is lovely to get them.
Please do let us know if you need shopping doing as several of you have offered to help.
If anyone out there is techy and wants to set up discussion groups/bible study using Zoom, to focus on weekly Gospel readings please do so - this can be done virtually. 
Please do keep in touch with folk that you know who aren't on-line, (there are several out there) and will need phone calls - perhaps read them my daily updates/sermon??  Attached is the sermon from yesterday.

Love and prayers to you all, 
Keep well, keep connected and keep praying!  

Rev Jo


Good morning everyone,

So I am sitting at kitchen table preparing for our service this morning.  It is so very strange knowing that you won't be there in person, but there spiritually, and hopefully on-line  - prayers please that it will all work!  You hopefully have Order of Service sent yesterday to follow at home with the readings.  Tune in at 10.00 hrs.  Also attached is Guidance on Spiritual Communion and Coronavirus from the Church of England.  Perhaps after our service we can have 'virtual coffee' and a chat over the phone to one another, as we would normally do after our services.

Also there is a link to financially support the Foodbank, which is really struggling at the moment through hugely increased demand.

Yesterday I did work in the morning putting together our pastoral care plan - then went to Morrisons - and to be honest it wasn't that busy.  Some food there (I was surprised) - and lots of Corona beer.  I must admit I did have a chuckle.  You do need to have a smile in these difficult times.  Will upload some photos that you are sending through, which are lovely.

Well, keep safe, keep praying and keep connected, will update later. 

It is Mothering Sunday, so special thoughts for so many of you who are not able to be with mothers/children/grandchildren and for those for whom today is a very difficult day, it is a really tough day.
A prayer for today (from the Cathedral)
God of hope,
in times of disappointment
you lead us to seek fresh purpose and new hope.
Be with all those who are unable to participate
in events they were looking forward to this weekend.
Amidst the sadness, help us to find joy in the simple things of daily living,
and amidst the difficulty of today, remind us of the hope of better things to come
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God Bless you all

Rev Jo

Saturday 21 March 2020

Morning everyone,

Lots to catch up on, and hope you are all well out there - and the sun is shining. 

Thank you to those who have sent their pictures through - it will be lovely to have pictures of what we are up to.  Yesterday I did Morning Prayer from St Dunstan's where I have 4G and therefore could do Facebook Live.  You don't have to be on Facebook to look at this: put into Google 'Facebook Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred, and St Peter, Canterbury' or click this link.   I am live streaming from St Dunstan's for Morning Prayer tomorrow and will be having a Eucharist 'behind closed doors' at 10.00 am.  Here is the Order of Service so that you can join in.  Attached is our Worship from Home booklet (thank you Ana for putting it into booklet form).  I have posted through doors of those not online but if you can't see it, please let us know and we can post one to you.  

God Bless you all, and catch up soon.

...more later today, as I am going to do Morning Prayer from the Rectory study at 9.00 am today.  Saturdays is my 'day-off' though I will keep this updated and make some calls and this afternoon will go for a walk (promise!!).

Rev Jo

Friday 20 March 2020

Morning everyone,

Hope all well this morning, and still all well at the Rectory - will keep you posted if any of us falls ill and I would have to isolate but so far OK and with you too.

So yesterday, I did Morning Prayer at St Dunstan's; lovely to have the church open and all the lights on (thought worth it); shows we are open. Then did Midday Prayer at St Peter's which was lovely.  High Street so quiet.  Sat there and could here the birds singing in the churchyard (Dan is still keeping an eye on the churchyard which is good news).  An afternoon on the phone catching up with several of you and then walked through a very quiet city to St Mildred's and said Evening Prayer there.  I had a thought - why don't we create a photo gallery of what we are up to and I can post on my daily bulletin and our Facebook Page?  Let's create a virtual gallery, maybe of your garden.

Off soon to St Dunstan's and hope to record Facebook Live Morning Prayer.  You don't have to sign up to Facebook to watch.  Just Google 'Facebook St Dunstan, St Mildred, St Peter, Canterbury', and it will come up, or click here and if I get the technology right, you may see me doing Morning Prayer.  Will do the same again at Midday at St Peter's and then again at St Mildred's for Evening Prayer.

Do keep in touch with each other - more ideas to follow....and do please make suggestions on what we can all do in these very different times. 
Remember 19.00 hrs on Sunday, to light a candle in your window (safely) as a sign of prayer...details to follow.

God Bless you all.
Rev Jo

Prayer for today taken from the Church of England's website:

Lord Jesus Christ

you taught us to love our neighbour

and to care for those in need

as if we were caring for you.

In this time of anxiety, give us strength

to comfort the fearful,

to tend the sick,

and to assure the isolated of our love

and your love, 

for your name's sake. 


Thursday 19 March 2020

Dear Friends

Well this rather feels like a 'new norm' and here is our daily update....
So yesterday I learnt how to bell ring on my own; I did contact Len first to ensure I knew what I was doing, and unlike when I rang the bell for my licensing, my feet stayed on the floor.  Then I said Morning Prayer in St Dunstan's.  I went to St Mildred's and caught up with a couple of folk there to advise that our Eucharist was cancelled. ��  Then I spent much of the morning in the office ensuring we had all the congregation contact details (please say if you would rather not receive this).  Then the afternoon was spent ringing round many folk - we do need to ensure that our more elderly and vulnerable have food in their cupboards.

Today I am going to trial Morning Prayer at St Dunstan's, and we are keeping church there open.  Midday Prayer at St Peter's - have church open for an hour, and then Evening Prayer around 17.00 hrs at St Mildred's, and again chance to have church open.

It is worth noting the Cathedral is filming their Eucharist: live streaming of a midday Eucharist every day and said Evening Prayer at 17.30 hrs on weekdays and 15.15 hrs on weekends using this link.

We are also working to film a Eucharist this Sunday, so watch this space - this is a steep learning curve for us all!
As we hear more I will update you all.  Do call if you have any queries; several folk have said that they can help with shopping etc.
Words from today's psalm, Psalm 25: 'To you O Lord, I lift up my soul: O my God in you I trust'.

Please do keep safe, keep praying and keep connected.
God Bless ������
Rev Jo 

Safeguarding link