Vicar puts church at the heart of her new community
Parishioners have been welcoming the new priest for the villages of Bridge, Bekesbourne, Patrixbourne, Lower Hardres and Nackington.
Estella Last was installed as the vicar for what’s known as the Bridge Benefice last Tuesday.
It encompasses five rural church congregations under three parishes: Bekesbourne, Patrixbourne with Bridge and Nackington with Lower Hardres.
No stranger to the area, Ms Last served as curate at St Martin’s Church in Herne since 2014.
And she’s been spending her time since taking over meeting her parishioners.
Ms Last said: “My role involves looking after the congregations in those churches and all of the folk in those communities as they seek to deepen their spiritual life and walk with God.
“The main thing I need to do is get out and about and get to know everybody, find out who does what and the needs of each of the places I’ll be serving.”
She believes her experiences so far will leave her in good stead for her new role.
Speaking to the Gazette, she added: “We have the church school here in Bridge and I’ve done a lot with the one in Herne so, hopefully, some of that experience will be transferrable.
“I’m sure the Bridge Benefice will be friendly and forgiving along the way and we will learn and grow together.”
She is looking to support many of the events and the activities each of the churches are involved with, like coffee mornings and concerts.
And Ms Last has been encouraged by what she has seen.
“My first impression is that they are lovely places, very beautiful, the people here are very friendly and welcoming,” she said.
“The villages have also placed great value in the churches because they act as centres of community, particularly in where there’s no longer a pub or post office.”