It is with great sadness that St Mary's church building has to remain closed for both public worship and private prayer owing to the very difficult and challenging circumstances we find ourselves in at this time with the escalating health emergency of the Corona virus outbreak.
Bishop James Langstaff sent out the following statement in a letter to all churches in the Rochester Diocese:
You will have heard the Prime Minister say that people must only leave their homes for food shopping, essential work and one act of solo exercise each day. That is very clear and takes effect immediately.
In response to the statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said:
“In the light of the Government’s measures announced by the Prime Minister this evening, we urge everyone to follow the instructions given. We will give a further statement of advice as soon as possible. Let us continue to pray, to love, to care for the vulnerable, and build our communities, even when separated.”
This means that all our places of worship are now to be fully closed with immediate effect – that is, for private prayer and daily offices as well as for public worship.
All worship and prayer is, therefore, now in the home, on the phone or online. This includes for baptisms and weddings, which are now explicitly suspended in line with the Prime Minister’s statement.
In a time of plague
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, help and deliverance unto us who are visited with grievous sickness and mortality.
Sanctify to us this our sore distress, and prosper with thy continual blessing those who labour to devise for mankind protection against distress and pain: through him who both healed and hallowed pain, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St Mary's is sometimes dubbed 'Little Westminster' and said to be one of the finest churches in Kent. It has stood as a place of regular worship and symbol of the Christian community in Stone since the 13th Century. It serves a parish that extends from the Thames to Watling Street and from Greenhithe village to the M25.
The building, which is mentioned in many architectural and tour guides, is a hidden surprise to the many visitors each year who come to delight in its quiet beauty from both near and far. Known for centuries as the Lantern of Kent because of its position on the top of the hill overlooking the River Thames, it was seen as a sign of safe haven by sailors returning home.
It still stands as a lantern above the surrounding new development and can be seen from the Queen Elizabeth II bridge as one crosses the Thames into Kent. Its importance as a constant feature in the landscape remains whilst the surrounding area changes.
There is help for your daily prayers on the Church of England's website in the form of a daily 'prayer feed' which can be found here :-
We look forward to welcoming you to back to St Mary's when we can open our doors once more to this place of welcome, prayer, healing and peace.
A place to meet and grow in Christ through worship, quiet contemplation, sacrament and encounter.
Christ is our cornerstone. We meet in his name and for his sake.
Whatever your background or your circumstances you are welcome to join the community which brings life to this beautiful and inspiring building that has served as Stone's spiritual centre for over 700 years.
Our ancestors nicknamed St Mary's "The Lantern of Kent" and it is our aim to be a beacon of light and hope for all in need, and in Jesus' name to shine out both the justice and the love of God.
Safeguarding – find out more and what to do if you have a concern here.