Pilsdon Community

       The Rev Peter Barnett

The Rev Peter Barnett developed the Pilsdon Community in West Malling in 2004. He said, “We community planted! We took four Community members from our previous Community in Dorset - my wife and I and two others - together with three of our long stay residents. 7 years on, we are full to capacity and are looking to develop and grow the Community by creating more accommodation and facilities on the site.”

Long stay residents in the Community are referred to as guests. At any one time there can be 20-25 guests living there contributing to the life of the Community. Peter said, “Everybody cooks, cleans, carries out maintenance and repair and looks after the grounds.”

Guests can stay from 10 minutes to 30 years and come to Pilsdon for different reasons. Often people are looking for some respite after an emotional or financial crisis. They can be homeless or recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. Peter said, “We claim no expertise in rehabilitation, our skill is to bring a sense of loving service and community through the work that is available.”

There are three core principles while living in the Community: voluntary prayers four times a day before every meal, hospitality as everyone is welcome as long as they are sober, and communal dining. Peter said, “We always eat together, it is absolutely fundamental to community building. We have a large vegetable garden, greenhouses and breed pigs, sheep and poultry. We produce half of the food we consume and it is very satisfying if you have been working in the garden or working with the animals and then you see it on the dining room table. However those who work with some of our animals tend to go vegetarian!”

Guests in the Community vary: they can be men and women, the elderly, those from all ethnic backgrounds and all faiths and none. Peter said, “We can have people who have PhDs and people who can’t read or write. People can be vulnerable no matter what their circumstances.”

The Community is funded from donations, which enables Peter and his volunteers to offer open hospitality and extra treats such as birthday and Christmas gifts and outings.

Peter said, “I get great satisfaction and enjoyment out of being very close to the Gospel imperatives in practice. We are ministering to all those people that it seems Jesus identified in the priorities of his ministry and those people who are on the margins. It’s not just those of us who are running the Community who minister to others - everyone ministers to each other. For example a long-term, recovering alcoholic could offer advice to a young dropout from college with a drinking problem and could speak with authority. I couldn’t because I don’t have that personal experience”

If you would like more information about the Pilsdon Community in West Malling please contact pilsdon.malling@tiscali.co.uk

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