The following article was written by Rev D.L. Helyar, in 1970 (links added, December 2014)and printed in Ashford A Record of 500 years, a few copies are still available at St Mary’s Parish Church in the centre of Ashford.
The history of the Congregational Church in Ashford goes back just over 300 year, years which have witnessed many changes. The first Congregational minister was the Rev. Nicholas Prigg, ejected from the Parish Church by the 1662 Act of Uniformity. History cannot be changed, but now, 307 years later, we are glad that we can rejoice with our Christian friends at St. Mary’s, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Parish Church. Although Congregationalists retain much of their tradition of independency under the Headship of Christ, we are increasingly conscious of our oneness with all Christian people.
In 1863 two further congregational chapels were opened in Beaver and Kennington, thus strengthening the Nonconformist witness in this area. In 1967 the members of the three Congregational chapels covenanted together, and under the present ministry now share a greater sense of unity and fellowship. Regular Sunday worship is maintained in all three places, and during the week there are activities, both social and spirituyal, provided for all sections of the community. Work amongst young people continues to develop, throught he medium of Sunday School, uniformed organisations and the Youth Club. Members of the church are also involved in community service and in this way the church seeks both to bring people into worship and fellowship and also to maintain a living Chritsian witness to the town. The Congregational Church takes an active part in the Free Church Council and in the Ashford Council of Churches.
What of the future? We are now engaged in discussion with local Methodists about amalgamation, and already we have shared in many United Services. We believe that God is calling us together in worship and in witness, all in response to the prayer of our Lord “that they may be one”.