Proposed New Pattern for Sunday Services

Currently, during a normal month, there are five Sunday morning services in Biddenden, and five Sunday morning services in Smarden, plus one Evensong. These services typically take place at 9:15am and 11:00am, so that the priest can offer a Eucharist in both churches. This pattern of worship has been in place since Revd Tess was licensed and was also the norm prior to the pandemic and interregnum. However, there are some ways in which it may not be best suited to the needs of our current worshiping community. For example

  • The priest (usually Tess) must rush from one service to the other. When rushed, it is harder to lead a service prayerfully, to have time to greet people, or to build relationships after a service.
  • 9:15am is considered too early by an increasing number of older church members.
  • Service times and types change every week in both churches, which can leave visitors and new members confused as to what to expect. Consistency is known to help churches grow.
  • When Tess isn’t available due to holiday/sickness, 1 or 2 priests must be found to cover two services.

After discussion among the church PCCs, a new pattern of worship has been proposed that, if adopted, may have the following advantages:

  • All Sung Eucharist services will be at 10am, which is most people’s preferred service time.
  • With one Eucharist each week, the priest can more easily arrive in plenty of time, and no longer needs to rush to another service but can stay and meet people.
  • The choir no longer need to choose which Sung Eucharist to attend, and fewer volunteers are needed for readings, intercessions, and refreshments.
  • Each church continues to have at least one service each week, with a Eucharist in one church, and a non-Eucharistic service in the other.
  • Tess will not lose her voice by lunchtime – especially in Week 1! This offers more opportunity for creative or informal services on Sunday evening or afternoon, such as worship using Taizé music.
  • An additional BCP Holy Communion could be offered at 8am or a midweek lunchtime if preferred.

(Note that with the new pattern, Smarden would lose the 11am Matins service, and Biddenden would lose one 9:15am Eucharist)

We are holding a period of consultation from now until the end of October 2022, and the joint PCCs will make a final decision in November 2022 whether to trial the new worship pattern from the New Year. If approved, the decision will be reviewed in April/May 2023.


Revd Tess and the PCCs of All Saints Biddenden and St Michael the Archangel Smarden, would like your reflections on the proposed new pattern for worship.

Whether you are in favour of the change and would like to try it out, or you prefer our current worship pattern, we would like to hear from you. Rather than a simple ‘yea’ or ‘nay’, please tell us any reasons you have for supporting the change, or any concerns that may cause you to prefer our current pattern.

Any thoughts for further improvement of the pattern of worship, or other ideas to achieve the same goals, are also very welcome.


Please share your thoughts in written form, by the end of October:

Thank you so much for considering these significant changes. Whatever your opinion or perspective, it is deeply valued as part of our parish community.