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  • Coronavirus/covid-19

    BEXLEY TEAM MINISTRY:  St Barnabas, Joydens Wood, St James, North Cray, St John’s, Bexley, St Mary’s, Bexley

    Updated 26th August 2021

    Services and Events for August 2021

    SUNDAY 29 August

    9.30am                        Holy Communion


    Services and Events for September 2021


    SUNDAY 5 September

    9.30am            Holy Communion

    SUNDAY 12 September

    9.30am           A Service to mark the Centenary of the Royal British Legion

    All are welcome.

    Also attending will be members of the North Cray & District RBL branch and leaders and young people from our Uniformed Organisations

    SUNDAY 19 September

    9.30am            Holy Communion

    3.00pm            Forest Church

    Saturday 25 September

    11am               Ordination as Priest at Rochester Cathedral  of Reverend Matt Hodder,

                            Curate of the Bexley Team

                            The service will be livestreamed

    SUNDAY 26 September

    9.30am            Holy Communion

                            Rev Matt will preside at this service.

                            Please do come and support him.

    There will be music on this link www.stjamesnorthcray.org.uk/welcome/music/  

    We hope you find the music helpful and inspiring.

    We continue to make worship available online, on Zoom, or via a phone-in link on Zoom. Details are emailed out each week.

    Please contact the Team Rector or a member of the clergy team to be included on the emailing list or see our website for further information.

    Also, do contact any of our clergy team if you are concerned, or if you would simply like a chat, or prayer.

    For further details see the Bexley Team News



  • Revd. Ren Harding

    "Welcome to St James Church, - the Church of England parish church serving North Cray.
    The church building is situated on the North Cray Road on the edge of the beautiful Footscray Meadows. There has been a place of worship on this site for many centuries, although much of the original building was restored in the nineteenth century. The church is well-loved in the North Cray community. For a map of the immediate area, please click here

    There is one service each Sunday morning at 9.30am lasting about an hour. This is usually a service of Holy Communion, with hymns, bible readings and a talk which leads us into the sharing of the bread and wine of communion. On the second Sunday of each month there is an All-Age service at 9.30am, suitable for all ages with lively singing and a rather more informal atmosphere.

    In August 2018, St James Church, North Cray became part of the Bexley Team partnering with the parish churches of St John's, Bexley, St Mary's, Bexley and St Barnabas, Joydens Wood.

    Please do explore our website and visit our church here in North Cray where I know you will be given a warm welcome" 

    Revd. Ren Harding

    Team Rector

    To contact the Reverend Ren Harding Tel: 01322 528923.


  • Parish Safeguarding - Statement

    Like all Church of England churches, safeguarding and safer recruitment are paramount.  The PCC are committed to ensuring that our Church and Bothy Hall are safe places for all who use them. For more detailed information and guidance click the Parish Safeguarding Handbook  for details of our Safeguarding Officer please see Safeguarding at St James and  for further information visit   https://www.rochester.anglican.org  and click on safeguarding. Produced by the National Safeguarding Team, it is a comprehensive guide, summarising the key areas a parish needs to address with regards to safeguarding. However, if you or someone you are concerned about is in immediate danger, please call the police on 999”


    Parish Safeguarding - Past Review

    If you are concerned about something you have experienced in a church, now or in the past, or you are worried  about another person - perhaps a vulnerable adult or a child – there are people you can talk to and you will be taken seriously. You can contact the Diocese of Rochester’s Safeguarding team on 01634 560 000 or visit their webpage Click to read more


    One of the Sacred Spaces created by the congregation at St James

    See more sacred spaces....


  • Rev’d Canon Ren writes-

    Team Rector’s Letter      September 2021

    Despite the difficulties of the last year, many of you have been able to get to know our Team Curate, Reverend Matt Hodder.

    When he joined our Team as a Deacon, Rev Matt wrote to introduce himself to us: -

    “I am originally from the Orpington area but lived in Cambridge for the last three years whilst training for ordained ministry at Ridley Hall. I am married to Jen and we have two young children. Before training for ministry I used to work in a primary school as a Teaching Assistant and Forest School teacher.

    I love being outdoors; whether that’s going for walks, spending time in the garden or taking photographs. I am so excited to get to know the people in the parishes of the Bexley Team and be able to share the love of God with the community that we will become a part of.”

    Well, a lot has happened in a year! Rev Matt has been instrumental in setting up our monthly Forest Church which is based at St James North Cray but welcomes youngsters from across the Bexley Team. He has been involved in providing Zoom Services and online Children’s Church during Lockdown and is committed to enabling these to continue for those who do not feel able to attend church in person. Matt’s family have settled into the area and are looking forward to a new addition to their family in the autumn. 

    Rev Matt will be ordained as a Priest at Rochester Cathedral on Saturday 25 September, and we are delighted that the first time he will preside at a service of Holy Communion will be at St James North Cray the following day, Sunday 26 September at 9.30am. 

    Congratulations Matt! We look forward to your ministry with us.

    Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

    contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

    6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB  

    01322-528923                         renharding@hotmail.co.uk




    Team Rector’s Letter                                   August 2021

    You may be wondering how churches are managing opening up after the lifting of some of the Covid regulations.

    Bishop Sarah Mullally chairs the Church of England Recovery Group and has issued the following statement-

    “Many will welcome the possibilities now before us, not least increased numbers at life events and a long-awaited return of congregational and amateur choir singing. “However, this is a difficult point in the course of the pandemic. Despite vaccination rates, cases are up, hospital admissions are up and long covid remains an ongoing concern. Therefore our approach needs to be cautious and careful. “Taking personal responsibility means responsibility for our neighbour, not just for ourselves, and taking precautions to protect those more vulnerable than we consider ourselves to be. Local church leaders know their communities and their own circumstances, and we will support them making local decisions to keep themselves and their community safe.
    "We would ask everyone to support those making local decisions and respect risk assessments, which are in place to protect everyone as we enter the next phase”

    So as a local church we are being asked to make our own decisions about Covid-safe opening according to local conditions. We have carefully considered the way forward, mindful that local infection levels are still high, and that most people I have spoken to are still wary of the complete relaxation of precautions.

    For the moment, we are strongly encouraging people to wear facemasks, but this is no longer compulsory. Hand sanitiser will continue to be available, and we encourage you to use it. We will continue to receive communion in one kind, and to maintain social distancing. We are able to sing once again, which is a delight!


    Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

    contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

    6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB  

    01322-528923                         renharding@hotmail.co.uk










    You may not remember this, because there have been so many similar cases, so many tragedies… And in all honesty, I’m not sure why this one ‘got to me’ as it did!

    On 27 October last year, a boat carrying refugees sank in the English Channel. Amongst those who died, were a Kurdish-Iranian family, trying to reach the UK. The bodies of the father, the mother, and two older children were recovered. The body of the youngest child, just 15 months old, named Artin could not be found.

    And, it may have been sentimental of me, but as a mother, and a grandmother, I could not help thinking of that tiny fragile body, being ‘lost’, far away from the bodies of his family. All over Christmas, and completely illogically, I wanted that little body to be held once again and placed to rest by those who had loved him in life.

    So, I noticed at the beginning of last month, on 7 June, police in Norway announced that a body found on the Norwegian coast on New Year’s Day had been identified as that of the missing baby.

    Little Artin's remains were to be flown back to Iran to be buried by members of the wider family.

    It is good, this, but by no stretch of the imagination can it be considered a ‘happy ending’!

    None of us as individuals would be party to the death of a small child… and yet, by our society’s hardened attitudes towards refugees, those deaths continue to happen.

    Time and time again, we fail to offer the desperate and the vulnerable a place of safety.


    Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

    contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

    6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB  

    01322-528923                         renharding@hotmail.co.uk


    Team Rector's Letter June 2021

    This month, we have ‘commissioned’ a special article from the Team Curate, Rev Matt Hodder, because we wanted you to know about something brilliant that is happening at St James Church.

    Since I took overall responsibility for the parish church of St James, I have wanted to do something that reflected the building’s lovely situation at the edge of the Foots Cray Meadows, and the beauty of our churchyard. When Matt was appointed as Team Curate I discovered that he had a background in working in Forest Schools, and so it all came together!

    The Forest Church Project enables us to really value the beauty of God’s creation and encourages the next generation to care for it. I want to thank our church council and congregation for giving their backing and support. Rev Ren

    "In May 2021 we started a new venture for the Bexley Team Ministry - Forest Church! Held on the third Sunday of each month and based at St James's Church, North Cray, Forest Church is a new and exciting way to worship God in the beautiful surroundings that we have been blessed with. Forest Church originated from the Forest School movement, which in turn came from Scandinavia back in the 1990's. Its premise is very simple; God is present everywhere and one of the places that we often feel most connected with God is outdoors. Forest Church has tried to blend the excitement of exploring God's creation alongside creating a church community in its own right; one which is open to everyone from across the Bexley Team. It's hard to say what a 'typical' Forest Church service looks like. In the two we've done so far we have attempted parachute making, nature bingo, seed planting, creating solar system mobiles (the baby kind not the phone kind!), treasure hunts, making meals for woodland animals and much more. There are two things that you can always guarantee will happen though... we will spend some time outdoors and we will marvel at God's amazing creation. 4 So I encourage you to come along to one of our upcoming services (3pm on 20th June, 18th July, 15th August) and see what it's like. It's suitable for all ages, children AND adults and everyone is most welcome. But don't take my word for it, here's what one of our regulars thinks.... "Forest Church is good fun. The best bit was finding things in nature and making a parachute for an astronaut. It's fun to be outside for church because you can explore, and use magnifying glasses and jump around!" ** (Zach)

     Hope to see you there soon!

    Rev Matt and the Forest Church Team


    Team Rector’s Letter                               May 2021


    1 May is ‘MAYDAY’

    What do we understand by that word?

    Traditionally, 1 May is celebrated as an ancient spring festival, reaching back to pre-Christian times. In the past, to have survived winter at all was a cause for thanksgiving, and after the hardships of winter to see the rebirth of the created world as the warmth of longer days brought growth. Dances round the may-pole, singing, and cake are usually part of the Mayday festivities.

    In 1889, May Day was chosen by socialists as the date for International Workers Day, celebrating the dignity of human work. In some countries it is known as Labour Day. Clearly this is a very different celebration from the traditional May Day.

    Finally, the international distress signal is “Mayday” calling for help, for rescue.

    So this mayday:

    We celebrate the God of creation, in the beauty of nature.

    We recognise the God of justice in the dignity of every human being.

    We call out to the God of rescue, when we are feeling vulnerable, and lost, helpless and afraid.

    Happy Mayday!


    Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

    contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

    6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB  

    01322-528923                         renharding@hotmail.co.uk


    Team Rector’s Letter                                   April 2021

    We have been busy getting the church ready to reopen! The doors will be open for Individual Prayer on Good Friday (11am until 1pm) and Easter Communion on Easter Day at 9.30am.

    As you can imagine this has meant a very thorough Spring Clean, including the removal of some quite spectacular cobwebs festooning the archways of the church! (Our apologies to the spiders who may have been disturbed by our ministrations.)


    While we have been cleaning and tidying and making our preparations to open the building, I have been thinking about the need we all have for some ‘spiritual spring-cleaning’.

    What do I mean by that? I mean that, when we take time to pause and reflect, we can discover that over a period of weeks and months, we have begun to accumulate mental and spiritual ‘clutter’.  It might be a sense of resentment concerning the words or actions of someone else. It might be a build-up of tension because of a raft of obligations and duties that we have foolishly taken on. It might be a habit of criticism, or of fixating on worries and problems.  All these things sap us of joy and dull our ability to see things in their proper perspective.

    Now I fully realise that some of you may be struggling with serious illness, financial worries, or griefs of many kinds, and if that is the case, my heart goes out to you. You should not feel guilty. Know that God is alongside you and be gentle with yourself as you find a way through the unavoidable emotional pain of those things. Remember I’m here to help if I can.

    Rather, I am talking here about the needless worries that can weigh us down if we allow them to. What I refer to is encapsulated in what is called The Serenity Prayer…

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

    I commend it to you as a prayer as you do your own ‘Spiritual Spring Cleaning’ and I wish you a very Happy Easter.

    Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

    contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

    6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB  

    01322-528923                         renharding@hotmail.co.uk



    I am pleased (and slightly shocked!) to have been invited by Bishop James to accept appointment as an Honorary Canon at Rochester Cathedral, one of four others appointed in the present round.Read the full article here


    Bexley Womens Aid - We were happy to help out with donations at Christmas

    In December we had our usual Toy service where we collected donations for Bexley Womens Aid. It wasn’t our usual service due to Covid restrictions but as usual the people of North Cray came up trumps!

    We contacted Womens Aid before the service, and asked if they had any particular requests for the children this year. They asked for chocolate selection boxes and sweets and small toys. The word soon went around and we had many generous donations.

    Comment from one of the Residents: “Such kindness and thoughtfulness of strangers to give so much, it has restored my faith in people and made Christmas magical for my children for the first time in years!”

    - See the whole letter we received after Christmas ....here....


  • Congratulations!

    Rev'd. Canon Ren Harding.

    A very special day as Revd Ren receives the Honorary Title of Canon

    Rochester Cathedral Sunday 6th June 2021,

    Click above to see the whole flyer as a PDF - to view and to print!


    Bexley Team Ministry - Clergy Contact Details.

    View them here.....


    Bexley Team Children's Church

    This year we want to offer our families a weekly Bexley Team Children's Church.

    The link to the material can be viewed here.......  


    We invite everyone in our nation to pause, as we reflect on the enormity of this pandemic. Read the Archbishops' letter here 

    A virtual visit to St James Church .

    Revd Ren visited St James, during the first  period of lockdown, and recorded this video clip.



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