Set in the middle of a small backstreet parish (parts of which are among the poorest and most socially-deprived areas of Gillingham, and, indeed, the country as a whole), this big red-brick Edwardian church may look rather forbidding from the outside, but, despite the rough edges, it is light, warm, and welcoming inside! Our worship sits firmly within the Catholic tradition of the Church of England - we are affiliated to The Society of St. Wilfred and St. Hilda, and are under the episcopal care of the Rt. Rev. Norman Banks, Bishop of Richborough.
A small, friendly, and inclusive 'family-sized' congregation made up of people of all ages (about 25 of us on a good day) meets here every Sunday morning for a simple but dignified sung Parish Mass at 1030am. We have no priest-in-charge at the moment, but we are open for business as usual with the help and support of retired or visiting clergy, as well as that of our own licensed Lay Readers.
We are always very pleased to see visitors and newcomers, because we are a forward-thinking church, serving our little community in whatever way we can, and sharing the love of God through our worship and practical help, whether you happen to actually live in our parish or not. We especially welcome those wanting to arrange a Baptism or Wedding, but we're also here for those of you going through difficult times, and, if you need prayer, or the Ministry of Healing, for yourself, or a loved one, please let us know.
Children and young people are invited to stay in church, and to be involved in the whole service, and a carpeted area with toys and games is available for the smallest members of the congregation. There is no regular Sunday School at present, as our main work with youngsters is done through the monthly Youth Club (as detailed below), and the various affiliated Squirrels/Beavers/Cubs/Scouts groups.
During the interregnum, occasional mid-week services continue to be held as announced, together with various other occasional services as required, but daily Morning Prayer and the Wednesday evening Mass have had to be suspended, at least for the time being. However, we are invited to attend the regular Thursday morning service of Holy Communion at St. Augustine's Church, Rock Avenue.
We have a flourishing monthly Saturday evening Youth Club (a bit like 'Messy Church', but for the slightly older 7-12 age group), and a monthly service of Holy Communion (sometimes lay-led) at Prospect Place, a sheltered-housing complex on the Victory Pier development, to which all are welcome. This service is now part of our involvement in the new 'Reach @ Gillingham Pier' Mission Initiative.
We have a lively Cell of Our Lady of Walsingham (which includes members from several other local churches), linked to the famous Anglican Shrine in Norfolk, and which meets for a monthly Mass and fellowship on (usually - but check beforehand) the first Saturday each month, or on (or around) the major Marian festivals. Canon Antony Lane, Vicar of St. Augustine's Church, is a Priest-Associate of Walsingham, and we are very grateful to him for his help with the Cell Masses.
We also have friendly links with our local Scouts, Cubs, Beavers, and Squirrels groups, who attend church several times a year.
The interior of the church is of some interest, with its various side chapels, pictures, statues, and other Arts and Crafts furnishings, much of which dates from the inter-War incumbency of Canon William Lutyens, brother of the well-known English architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens.
There is plenty of room for private prayer and meditation, and there are several places at which to light a candle. Volunteers keep the Church clean and tidy, along with the surrounding grounds (though offers of help with cleaning and/or gardening are always well received!). The Church is usually open on Monday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, or at other times if gardening is in progress outside!
Some interior refurbishment and renovation work has been carried out in the Church in recent years, and, in addition, the Hall has had some much-needed repairs and improvements to allow its use by a pre-school Nursery every weekday, an exciting move forward in our community outreach. The Hall is also much in demand for use as a children's party venue - our rates are very reasonable - and the kitchen has recently been completely renewed. Some further refurbishment and redecoration is planned for this coming year, and we have now established a regular monthly Saturday morning 'Community Cafe' as a welcoming meeting-point for local residents.
*N.B. PARKING AT ST. LUKE'S* Parking restrictions - Permit Holders Zone L only - are in force in ALL the streets around the Church from 8am to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays. Visitors' parking vouchers are available FREE to anyone attending weekday services or events, if required, and we have a very limited number of off-road parking spaces near the Hall in King William Road. Up to four (4) hours free parking is available on-street at the lower end of Rosebery Road, ME7......and there are NO parking restrictions in the vicinity of the Church on Sundays.