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A Village Celebration in Kent
Tuesday 15th September 2015

History was made in the village of Pembury in Kent on Sunday 13th September with the opening of the new Hine Room at St Anselm's Church.

Bishop John Hine, who grew up in the village, came to unveil a plaque and formally open the new church hall, which from now on will bear his name. The hall adjoins the church, and its completion marks the climax of a major renewal project for St Anselm's. Fr Ed Tomlinson of the Ordinariate arrived at the parish four years ago and all the parishioners – Ordinariate members and longstanding parishioners alike – have worked together to transform the small church into a place of beauty for worship, and to create a new hall for Sunday School, church activities and local groups.

The project has included acquiring a pulpit, pews and fixed altar for the church – formerly the altar was a temporary one which had to removed when the room was used as a community hall on weekdays. With the building of the Hine Room, the church has come into its own – it is now a permanent place of worship, where the sanctuary lamp glows day and night and with an adjoining side-chapel and sacristy.

Bishop Hine concelebrated Mass in a packed church with Father John Hartley, who was at Pembury in its earliest days, and with Father Ed and assistant priest Father Nicholas Leveseur. It had always been Father Hartley's hope to create a proper church at Pembury – but he was moved to Paddock Wood before it could be achieved: now he has seen his dream fulfilled.

After Mass, parishioners and guests enjoyed a buffet lunch, at which gifts were presented to the architect and builders.

The church and hall together are approached by a path that leads through a new garden area – formerly darkened by overgrown trees but now with a lawn and hedges, – and a lych-gate will shortly be added. An outdoor Calvary stands alongside.

"This whole project seemed like a David-and-Goliath challenge at first" said Fr Ed in his sermon "But God always chooses the small and unimportant for his tasks, so that he can show that it is he who is really in charge. So, with everything apparently difficult – finding funds, getting the necessary permissions, overcoming all sorts of problems – God worked his way, and the project has been achieved."

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The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
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©  The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is a company limited by guarantee with no share capital registered in England, Company Reg No: 07582943 and Charity Reg No: 1141536.