All Saints Biddenden and St Michael Smarden are twinned with a similar two-church rural benefice in Germany. The parishes of Zornheim and Mainz-Ebersheim, situated near Mainz to the south-west of Frankfurt, are led by Pastor Klaus Wallrabenstein. The villages are in the Reinhessen area that is famous for its fine wines.
In September 2014, Klaus and three other parish members, Katherina Wallrabenstein, Dieter Utesch and Ellen Kneib, visited Biddenden and Smarden for a long weekend.
They stayed with various church members in Biddenden and Great Chart (the home of our curate Catherine). Their visit coincided with Harvest, which was marked in Biddenden with a flower festival and jazz concert, and in Smarden with the Harvest Lunch.
They were also accompanied to Canterbury and to Ashford. In Canterbury they were introduced to Gwen Wilkinson, a support worker with Kent Refugee Action Network, which supports asylum seekers and works closely with unaccompanied minors. In Ashford our guests met Chris Norman, manager of Fair Share Kent who run Ashford Family Food Bank and coordinate the collection and distribution of food parcels to struggling local families.
Needless to say our guests also visited Canterbury Cathedral, went to Biddenden Vineyards and did some shopping in Tenterden.
Read their introductory letter setting out (in excellent English) their hopes for the parish twinning. It is hoped that a return visit to Germany will be organised for around June 2015. More details will be posted here.
More pictures of the visit below, click to enlarge: