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The Reverend Martin Jones of St Martin's church, Aldington, near Ashford, is holding services at Shepherd Neame pub the Walnut Tree

Prayers can now be said over a pint after an Ashford vicar came up with a quirky new venue for a church service... a village pub. 

The Reverend Martin Jones, vicar at St Martin’s in Aldington, is conducting a weekly service at Shepherd Neame pub the Walnut Tree. 

Worship takes place in the bar from 9am every Wednesday and the congregation is already bigger than he imagined it would be.

The Reverend Martin Jones with landlady Karen Barrett and her partner Steve Worrow
The Reverend Martin Jones with landlady Karen Barrett and her partner Steve Worrow

The Rev Jones said: "The village of Aldington has moved since St Martin’s was built in the 12 century and the church is now about a mile outside. The aim of holding these services at the pub is to meet people where they are, instead of expecting them to come to us.

"The last session we had was attended by 18 people, which is fantastic and more than I expected."

He said the sessions are less formal than a traditional church service and people are encouraged to ask questions and share opinions. 

The Reverend Martin Jones at the Walnut Tree
The Reverend Martin Jones at the Walnut Tree

Licensee Karen Barrett, who has been at the pub 13 years, said: "When Reverend Jones approached me with the idea I was delighted to get involved.

"Everyone has busy lives and it can be difficult to find the time to go to church. I was brought up as a Christian but I am working all day on Sunday so don’t get the chance to go along for a service.

Shepherd Neame
Shepherd Neame

"Getting together at the pub on a weekday morning is not only more convenient for lots of people but also a comfortable, familiar environment. I provide everyone with tea, coffee and biscuits and it is a really relaxed atmosphere.

"It is a great way to bring the community together."

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