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Wine reintroduced at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Yalding

By Claire McWethy

A village vicar is turning grape juice into wine, by reintroducing the traditional Holy Communion.

St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Yalding became one of the first in the UK to go teetotal in 2013, a decision made due to its close association with the Kenward Trust which runs an alcohol and drug rehab centre in the village.

All communion wine became non-alcoholic so recovering addicts could fully participate in the Holy Sacrament, where wine represents the blood of Christ and the bread his body.

St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Yalding
St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Yalding

It was a move introduced by the church’s former vicar, the Rev Paul Filmer, who retired in 2015.

But now, Father Paul Kish, who took over as vicar last year has announced the High Street church will be altering its stance on altar wine.

Instead, those who cannot drink will only receive bread as the institution falls back in line with canon law.

That dictates wine served at communion must contain fermented grapes.

Wine where the alcohol is subsequently removed still qualifies, but still retains some of its proof meaning it is unsuitable for recovering alcoholics.

Rev Paul Filmer
Rev Paul Filmer

Grape juice, which is what was being served used at St Peter and St Paul’s however, is not permitted by the bishop.

Fr Kish said: “We can’t use grape juice.

“The point being at the Last Supper when Jesus says ‘do this in remembrance of me’, we need to do the same.

“We thought we were making communion more accessible, but currently that means no one gets to share in it.

“I think a lot of people will be pleased we are complying with the law.

Father Paul Kish
Father Paul Kish

“But there will be some concerns we are not being hospitable to people who are particularly vulnerable which is why we have spent so much time considering it.”

As part of the trust’s programme, residents at Kenward House, in Kenward Road, are encouraged to get involved with the local community and go to church.

Fr Kish said: “It has taken a fair bit of time, hand wringing, careful questioning and discussion with the bishop.

“We are not making a decision, simply falling in line with what we should be doing.”

A spokesman for the Kenward Trust said: "We respect the decision of the church leaders and understand that things change. We can accommodate this change with our residents and don't see this as a problem.

"Our relationship with St Peter & St Paul’s Yalding has never been better; indeed we will be holding the Kenward Trust Christmas Carol Service in the Church on Saturday, December 16 at 3pm.

"Kenward residents also attend other churches in the village from time to time."

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