Set in the middle of a very 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 Wilfrid 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 25-35 of us on a good day) meets here every Sunday morning for a simple but dignified sung Parish Mass at 1030am. Despite the size of the church building, even a comparatively small number doesn't seem to get lost - rather like Dr Who's TARDIS in reverse! The acoustics are first-class, so we sing well...
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.
The daily Mass has now been restored, but the schedule may have to be altered from time to time, depending on circumstances, and/or the time of year!
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 part of our involvement in the new 'Reach @ Gillingham Pier' Mission Initiative.
We also 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.
We have friendly links with our local Scouts, Cubs, Beavers, and Squirrels groups, who attend church three or four times each 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 date from the inter-War incumbency of Canon William Lutyens, brother of the well-known English architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. It's only fair to say that some items could do with cleaning and/or restoration, if anyone has a few £k to spare...
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, as well as at service times, or at other times if gardening is in progress outside, and/or cleaning inside!
Some interior refurbishment and renovation work has, in fact, 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 programmed for this 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 to anyone attending weekday services or events, if required (donations welcome!), 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. The ASDA Gillingham car park is not far away, either.