Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Website trouble

The main church website seems to be down at the moment. The webhosting service is having some sort of upgrade, so I suspect it is related to that. I earnestly hope it will be back soon, but in the meantime you can check out what is going on here, or on our facebook page.

UPDATE : Angelfire, which host the website have had an upgrade that ran into problems, followed by some sort of cyberattack, according to the information I've been able to discover (not a lot).  They are working on getting things back up and running.

UPDATE FRIDAY MORNING: HOORAY! The website is back up and running.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Seal Choir in action

Click on the link below for a track from the Choral Evensong on Sept 25th. The choir decided to do this as a one off treat, for themselves as well as for others. Many thanks to Philip Le Bas, our choir director, and Nicholas Castell, who played the organ for us. The choir is recruiting, and would welcome more singers of any voice. An ability (however basic) to read music helps, but you can learn as you go along, so if you can't read music don't let this put you off!

Nunc Dimittis by T.T. Noble.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Harvest at Seal Church

 Here are some photos of Seal Church's Harvest decorations.

At Messy Church last week we made four giant pictures representing the four seasons to decorate the church. God is with us in every season of the year, and every season of our lives. This is autumn....



...and summer.

At Sunday school this morning, the children made hedgehogs out of bread. Well done! They look really spiky!
Sunday school meets on the first Sunday of every month in the vicarage. Babs Bartholomew has some wonderful ideas to help the children explore and grow in faith.

They also made apple pigs!

There was space on the back of the service sheet, so I included a picture to take away and colour to help us think about the seasons of our lives and look for God's presence in them all. There are plenty of spare service sheets on the table at the back of church. If you live in or near Seal and would like one, feel free to pop in this week and pick one up.

... and the winners are...

Many thanks to Christine Mackinnon who judged our Scarecrow competition for us. 

Drum roll, please...
The winners were.... (with some comments from Christine in italics )

1st - The scarecrow crow, 41 Zion Street. Clever use of black binliners; a crow to scare
crows - cunning!; a very smart idea.

2nd -  BFG, 4 Childsbridge Way. Scary face!

3rd Ninja Turtle, Church Street Green. The face is just perfect - I loved him!

4th Toady Tony, 4 Middle Lane. A brilliant traditional scarecrow

5th Peg Leg Pirate Pete, Flat 4, Bretaneby.  Love the plank wedged into the window - good use of upper-floor window.

Also, Christine particularly loved
Hungry Caterpillar, Church Yard.  
Chez Seal, 41 High Street.  
Banana Man, Top-Banana Pre-school.  
and commented that ...
The mermaid (4 Childsbridge Lane) was appropriately disturbing, 
and 'Donald' (5 Childsbridge Road) was almost as scary as the real thing. 

She said that : Choosing between these scarecrows was tough. They were all superb.  

Thank you for making these impossible decisions for us, Christine. We really appreciate the time and trouble you took.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Seasonal fun at Messy Church for Harvest

We made pictures of the four seasons to display in church for our Harvest Festival next week. This is spring .
"Summer" involved handprints...

"Autumn" gives lots of opportunity for really messy gluing. 

"Winter" is coming along nicely.

Sometimes just gluing is fun...

The shakers were a great success, and added to our music.We worshipped in the vicarage garden.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The departure of the Queen of Sheba

The Old Testament reading set for morning prayer this morning was the story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. (1 Kings 10)
I couldn't resist posting a poem I wrote a while back about this story, focusing not the arrival of the Queen, which Handel's famous music celebrates, but her departure. She came to find out what the fuss about Solomon's wisdom was all about (fame due to the Lord, says the Bible very clearly!) and was duly impressed by it. But at the end she went home - and maybe put some of that wisdom in to practice. We're often tempted to hang around people who we think have all the answers, rather than taking away the lessons and applying them in our own lives. It takes someone with a real sense that she has her own calling and her own life to lead (and her own nation to govern) to have the strength to go home! Anyway, that's what struck me when I wrote this....

The Departure of the Queen of Sheba

Odd – perhaps not? – that Handel should hymn your arrival,
all hustle and flurry,
spreading of treasures and doors flung wide,
when all the time the true surprise
is not that you arrived, but that you left.

You left this man
for whom unnumbered women gave their eye teeth,
and much more besides.
You left this man
- astonishing in his glory,
like no other king on earth –
though legends say that you and he were more than friends.

You left him.
Packed your bags,
rolled your silks,
furled your banners,
closed the palace doors behind you.

This is truly music-worthy.
You went home.
Only one who rules her own land
would have had the nerve.

Anne Le Bas. 1999

Friday, September 02, 2016

September news from Seal Parish Church

Seal Church's September Parish mag is here....

As you will see, there is plenty going on this month - a Musical Matinee on Sept 17, our Scarecrow competition in the run up to Harvest, the annual Ride and Stride on Sept 10, Messy Church AND Choral Evensong on Sept 25.

Many of our regular activities also resume this month after the summer break.

Sunday School takes place this Sunday morning (4 Sept)  at 10 am in the vicarage.

Our first choir practice is this Wednesday (Sept 7) at 7.30pm - new voices are always welcome. Some ability to read music helps, but please don't be put off if you can't - you will soon pick it up! If you enjoy a good sing, why not come along and give it a try?

Wednesday Church at Seal School begins again on 14 Sept at 3.45 pm. We meet in the mobile classroom to the left of the main building for a very informal and child friendly service with Bible story, chat and prayer. Everyone is welcome, whether or not you have a child at Seal School.

Singing Starters continues to meet on the third Sunday of each month at 11.15am after our All Age Worship - simple songs and musical activities for small children and their carers.

Good Book Club is on Wed Sept 7 at 11 am in the vicarage - a very informal chance to chat about the Bible - and there are two home groups, including a new day time group. You can find details of these in the newsletter.

The bellringers have also told me that they are looking to recruit more ringers, so if this is something you have always fancied having a go at, get in touch and find out more.

As always, all our activities are open to everyone, and you will be made very welcome.

September news from Churches Together in Kent

In the first of a short series, Rev. Stuart Davison, Regional Minister and Team Leader for the South East Baptist Association offers this month's theological reflection.

Up a tree…

Maybe the wrong tree!

A Council has been accused of wasting £100,000 when it imported trees from Italy to create a boulevard – which promptly withered and died.

The trees had to be replaced with European Acers, a type of Sycamore.

Next month I shall again be in Israel/Palestine. Once more I shall look at the Sycamore-fig tree in Jericho and wonder how old it is. At the time of Jesus the tree would have been outside the town and Zacchaeus would have run ahead of the crowd in order to climb up it and get a look at Jesus.

He was an outsider who would have risked life and limb if he had mixed in with the crowd; a despised person who worked for the occupying forces; an oppressor of the people. So he did two things a Jewish man normally wouldn’t do – he hitched up his robes and ran and he climbed a tree – and that’s where Jesus found him. And the people of the town would have expected Jesus to mock him. But Jesus didn’t. He reached out to this outsider.

Earlier, on the way into the town, Jesus had another encounter. This time it was with another outsider but this time he was one oppressed – a blind man named Bartimaeus. Again the crowd’s expectations of Jesus weren’t realised: he reached and healed the man.

In the aftermath of Brexit we need to remember we follow One who met with and offered hope and life to the oppressed and the oppressor, the outsiders whether inflicted by others or self-inflicted, turning both their lives around.

Rev. Stuart Davison

#Just1Thing Exhibition in Dover

If you had to leave your home, what one thing would you take? That is one of the questions being asked by an exhibition of photos, artwork and video animations created by asylum seekers and refugees on display at St. Mary’s Church in Dover.

Running until the 10 September, it's been compiled by two local charities: Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN); and Samphire, a Dover-based charity working to support former immigration detainees and promote good relations between migrants and local communities.

There is a chance to learn more about the experience of refugees at a facilitated session with volunteers from the two charities on Wednesday 7 September 11am to 1pm. Do drop in if you can. Find out more here.

Positions vacant

A number of job vacancies with closing dates in September have come to our attention. Please share with those you think would be interested.
  • Family Trust in Maidstone are looking for a Children’s/Schools Worker, full or part-time. Salary £16 – 18,000 P/A Pro Rata, to be based in Maidstone.  For more information contact Alex Clark on  Closing date 16th September.
  • Guildford Baptist Church are looking for a Part Time Youth Worker, 22 hours a week. Applications close on the 19th August.  For more information contact Chris Toms on 01483 575008 or 
  • The Charterhouse is an almshouse based near the Barbican, providing residential care to a community of elderly gentlemen since 1611. They are seeking an exceptional individual to lead their ancient and highly-regarded charitable foundation through to 2020 and beyond. The closing date for applications is Friday 30th September. For a full job description visit their website or contact  Giles Jones at

Speak Up! Christian Aid Week of Action

Join Christian Aid and the Climate Coalition for the Speak Up week of action from 8-16 October. Last year over 10,000 people from around the UK came together to Westminster to meet with their MPs and speak up for what they loved This year, Christian Aid are inviting communities to engage their MPs in a local event to bring climate-change back to the top of the political agenda. For resources on how to involve you church and how to arrange an event in your constituency visit the Speak Up website.

Christians uniting for Creationtide

Christians around the world, and from every denomination, are being encouraged to engage with the World Day of Prayer for Creation and the Season of Creation that follows it. Running from 1 September until 4 October every year, Creationtide is originally an Eastern Orthodox initiative, but has now spread widely among Anglican, Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations, bringing Christians together to pray and work for the protection of the environment that sustains everyone.

The Church of England has commended a set of liturgical resources for the occasion, and a prayer has been published by a trio of pan-European church bodies for Christians to join in praying together during the season.  

Independent Living Advice Service

The Royal British Legion have relaunched their Independent Living Advice Service. They have several specialists who focus on particular issues that can trouble veterans and their families in the communities. Sally Shopland is the Independent Living Advisor for the South East and would be willing to speak to any churches about the service which may help elderly veterans in their congregations. For more details please contact Sally Shopland on or 0808 802 8080

URC Retreats Fellowship - Final Quiet Day of 2016

The Retreats Fellowship of the United Reformed Church, Southern Synod will be holding a Quiet Day on Saturday 1 October 10am to 4pm. Taking place at Swanley URC, High Street, Swanley BR8 8AT, it is open to all who want to deepen their relationship with God through prayer, reflection and silence and who would value the encouragement of others. The cost is £8 (bring packed lunch, drinks provided)

For further details contact:
John Gordon 01323 845380
Kathy Shaw 01322 557 656
Ken Lynch 01243 862801

Get 'on yer bike' and raise funds for your church!
The annual Ride and Stride fundraising event takes place on Saturday 10 September. You can raise money for your local church building just by riding, or walking around Kent and enjoying the late summer sunshine. Friends of Kent Churches have created this lovely film which gives you all the information you need about why this is such a useful cause. There is still time to get involved Sign up here, either as a church or as an individual!