Vicar puts church at the heart of her new com­mu­nity

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - By Jack Dyson [email protected]­m­ @jack­y­dys

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.”

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