They have worshipped together for decades on the pews of their parish church. Generations of their loved ones have been baptised, married and buried there.
But now a Church of England congregation is being torn apart by the Pope's offer to welcome disaffected Anglican traditionalists into the Catholic Church.
In a vote which has split the local community and left long-standing friends on opposite sides of a growing divide, 54 parishioners at St Barnabas Tunbridge Wells have indicated that they intended to become Catholics while 18 said they would remain in the established Church.
While the Kentish churchgoers are among the first to take such a stand, congregations up and down the country will soon follow suit as worshippers and clergy weigh up whether to enter the Ordinariate, the structure set up by Pope Benedict XVI to embrace defectors from the established Church.
At St Barnabas the move towards Rome is being led by the vicar, Fr Ed Tomlinson. He believes that traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women have been badly let down by Church leaders.
But he has been told by the diocese of Rochester that if he and his followers leave the Church of England they will no longer be allowed to hold services, even on a shared basis, at St Barnabas - a nineteenth-century red-brick church where Siegfried Sassoon, the First World War poet, was baptised.
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