|Kennington URC/Methodist Church||Junction of Faversham Road
And Ulley Road
Next to "The Rose Inn", at the junction of Ulley Road and Faversham Road (map) meets a church with a history of ministry to the people of Kennington which stretches back more than a century. Many of its current members are in their 20's and 30's, so for them the knowledge that God has brought His church, through such varied times, is a reassurance rather than a living memory.
But I am endebted to those with longer memories, who have lent photographs and experiences to colour this history. Also to those who have written before, and made this job much easier for me.
The Ashford Congregational Church built a daughter church in Kennington in 1863. Prior to this there used to be "open air" services at Kennington. This was a time of great expansion for Ashford. With the opening of the Ashford Railway works in 1849, the population of Ashford increased from 3,700 in 1841 to 6,000 in 1851. A number of people helped with the Kennington chapel, most notably Mr. G. R. Bacon, who served as superintendent from 1873 to 1909. The Ashford Congregational church also started a church at Beaver, on the other side of Ashford.
|The Congregational Chapel in Kennington, on Faversham Road, built in 1863 and demolished in 1971 to make way for the new church.||Ashford Congregational Church, stood in Church Road, where the magistrate's court now stands.|
The first church was on the present site, but it was a wooden building with pews and a coke stove for heat. In 1913, the church was extended to provide a classroom and a kitchen. From this time an assistant pastor looked after the churches at Kennington and Beaver, this continued until 1929. Both churches owe a great deal to the faithful work of lay leaders.
Until 1954, the work at Kennington, had been under the direction of a committee based at the "mother" church in Ashford. Now a quarterly Church meeting of members was started. The women's meetings were a strong factor in the life of both Kennington and Beaver churches.
In 1970 the "mother" church in Church Road, Ashford, where the magistrates court now stands, needed a new roof and extensive renovation. Bank Street Methodist Church also needed major reconstruction work. It was decided to sell the Congregational church and then merge it into Bank Street church. One third of the proceeds went towards the reconstruction at Bank street. The second third went towards building the Cade Road Church and the remainder went into building a new church at Kennington, on the site of the old one.
|Kennington||Bank Street||Cade Road|
The congregational church and the Methodist church united and became one church worshipping in three places: Bank Street, Cade Road and Kennington. During the building work, the congregation met in the W.I. hall in Faversham Road in Kennington.
A large Sunday School had been held on Sunday afternoons for many years in the old building, but had ceased for lack of leaders after the war. When the new building was opened in 1971 the Sunday School was restarted in the mornings with the services in the evenings. There was a family service once a month in the morning.
Later an extension was built in December 1979. This is now the church lounge. From 1980 there were regular morning and evening services. In the last few years the evening service has been replaced by a monthly service, which we take to a local retirement home, and a Saturday Evening Praise Evening - usually on the first Saturday of each month.
The church grew and developed. In May 1987 several of the members of the church felt led to start another fellowship in Kennington at the "TOC-H" hall. This was a very sad time for the church. For a few months housegroups continued meet, involving both fellowships. By July even these had separated.
But the church has continued to develop and explore new areas of ministry. A number of our members have gone on to serve as Ministers, Deacons and other full-time roles in the church, around the country.
Our latest venture is to publish a book called "The Little Church of Mended People", containing the wonderful stories of some of those who have been changed by God, through this church. Publication will be late in 2012
Interested in finding out more about the history of Ashford ?
Chris Crook's Old Photos of Ashford
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