The year started with heavy snow, so well done to the 20+ people who braved the snow and managed to get to the church on Sunday 20 January. Our Ministers went to their nearest churches, so we conducted our own service - thanks especially to stewards John Humphreys and Ron Sutton. Come rain, sleet or snow, The Beacon continues to shine!!
Our service on Sunday 27 January included an interview with one of our members, Shirley Dowle, about the work that is done by churches in Dover for the homeless, including the Soup Kitchen which operates every evening in the town.
During our service on Sunday 3 February, our Minister interviewed Glenys Jeff about the work she is involved in at Crosslinks, an ecumenical project based in a former shop on Buckland Estate in Dover. A number of groups for parents, children and young people are held there each week, as well as Messy Church. For more information about the project visit www.crosslinksdover.org.uk
We were pleased to welcome Gill Peters to our service on Sunday 17 February to talk to us about how her son Adam was called to give up his career and work among the people living in the slums in Uganda. The theme of the service was how God calls ordinary people, old (Moses) and young (Jeremiah), as well as those who consider themselves failures (Peter).
After the service we held a special church meeting when we decided to go ahead with various plans for our church buildings, developing Footprints (the former shops which front the main street in Dover), linking that part with our church hall, where we now have our services, and to start considering the options for our former church building. Exciting times ahead!
On Mothering Sunday, 10 March, led by our Minister, the Rev Gordon Newton, we thought about some of the challenging situations facing Mothers on the Front Line, and the nurture of Mother Church. And, of course, we distributed flowers to all the mothers who were present. It was also our annual Gift Day and we are grateful to all our church members for their generous donations towards the life and work of the church.
We held a service of Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, which included a symbolic washing of feet.
On Good Friday, we held a special afternoon for children, their parents and carers. Starting with various groups making an Easter garden, Easter biscuits, a collage and other art work we went on to follow the story of Good Friday through a simple presentation of the Stations of the Cross. We ended with a song, prayers, refreshments and an Easter egg hunt! Our thanks to our Minister, Junior Church helpers and others who organised it.
Our Easter Sunday service, which included Holy Communion, was a bright celebration of Christ's Resurrection with members of the congregation bringing flowers to help make a cross of daffodils. Our Minister reflected on those who find it difficult to believe that Jesus rose again, starting his sermon with the catchphrase: "I don't believe it!" It was good to see so many people at this service.
On Sunday afternoon, 30 June, we held a decommissioning service for our church building, and then a short dedication of Footprints - our community centre - and a consecration service for our church hall which is where we now hold our services. We were pleased to welcome so many people from other churches, as well as former members of the church who returned to join with us for this very special occasion. It was a day of mixed emotions, of course, with many people having many memories of our old church. But, as our minister reminded us, it was a day of transition, as we moved on to a new chapter in the life of The Beacon.
Our Beacon Music Group played at the Sea Sunday service at Dover Lifeboat station on Sunday 14 July. And the good weather meant we were able to hold the service on the quayside.
A Foodbank has been launched in Dover and The Beacon is the distribution point in Dover. At our service on Sunday 28 July we heard all about what was needed to get it up and running. Maureen Humphreys challenged us all to become involved, either as a volunteer or by donating food on a regular basis. It's another way in which The Beacon can shine in the community, helping those in crisis.
We were very saddened by the deaths of two of our members.
Andrea Waters had been a life-long member of our church, taking part in many activities. She was the National Children's Home representative for many years, and also one of our treasurers. She died in the Pilgrims Hospice on Saturday 21 September and we will miss her very much. Andrea was a volunteer fund-raiser for Dover Lifeboat for many years and representatives from the RNLI formed a guard of honour at her funeral on Saturday 5 October.
It was only in May that, during a service, Shally Oshikoya was telling us about her work as a nurse and the part her strong faith played in that. Sadly, she became ill shortly afterwards, and passed away. She had given so much help and support to her friends in times of need. The funeral service took place at The Beacon on Thursday, 22 August when her family and many of her friends and work colleagues joined together to mourn her passing and give thanks for her life. We held another time of remembrance and thanksgiving for her at our service on Sunday 29 September. We remember Richard, Morayo and Sunday in our prayers.
We were pleased to welcome the Rev. David Bedford to lead our worship on Sunday 13 October, with the theme The Church Jesus Is Building. He had a challenging message for us.
Ben Robinson told us about the Dover Street Pastors scheme during our morning service on Sunday 20 October. They are looking for more volunteers to become street and prayer partners so that they can be out in the town on Friday as well as Saturday evenings.
In November, we collected 96 boxes for the Love In A Box charity, and we contributed towards parcels for homeless people in Dover this Christmas, too.
On Saturday 30 November, a pre-Christmas tea for senior citizens was held in our church hall, organised by Jan Goldsack and Sue Parsons. We were pleased to welcome the Mayor of Dover, Cllr Ronnie Philpott, and those attending were also treated to some entertainment. The event raised £140 for our Footprints Projects.
We held our Junior Church Prizegiving and Toy Service on Sunday 1 December, when the children received prizes for their attendance during the past year, and they brought books, toys and games which they no longer needed to give to less fortunate children abroad, through British Humanitarian Aid.
More than £600 was raised at a Christmas Fayre at the Beacon on Saturday 7 December for the Dover Street Pastors. Thanks to everyone who supported it.
More than 100 people joined us for our Carol Service on Sunday 22 December, part of which was by candlelight. We were particularly pleased to welcome some of the Slovakian congregation who hold their services in our hall. Ivana sang a Slovakian carol, accompanied by Thomas, and Michal read one of the readings. The Beacon Singers, Donald, Margaret, Jill and Glenys also sang solos or other songs, and the Beacon Music Group provided some of the accompaniment, with Keith at the organ. Thanks to everyone who took part and who supported this service.
It was good to share in our Christmas Day worship and Christmas Eve Holy Communion service with so many people.
Our thanks to the Kent Fire and Rescue Service for attending at the church on Monday 30 December and removing a finial that had partially collapsed on top of our old church building. Neighbours noticed that some of it was missing and the remainder was wobbling in the high winds. Fire crews attended, removed the rest and made it safe, and we are very grateful to them.