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West End boost for East End church

08 August 2014


"We want to engage with younger people": the Revd Phil Williams, who will be one of the leaders of a new service at Christ Church, Spitalfields.

"We want to engage with younger people": the Revd Phil Williams, who will be one of the leaders of a new service at Christ Church, Spitalfields.

THE website that announces a new evening service at Christ Church, Spitalfields, highlights the fact that, despite church growth in London, less than one per cent of East Enders attend a weekly church gathering.

The invitation to "be part of the change" is a call to join a congregation that comprises members from Christ Church; Holy Trinity, Brompton, with St Paul's, Onslow Square, and St Augustine's, South Kensington (HTB); and St Paul's, Shadwell (a church-plant of HTB).

The partnership has been welcomed by the congregation of Christ Church, the Rector, the Revd Andrew Rider, said on Monday.

"The PCC is excited about people coming to join us who have some real growth experience," he said. "In the past ten years, we've seen a fair amount of growth in the church, but it really should be much bigger than it is, given its position and that God has been very generous to us, and all the building works that have been done. . . , we have to push through that boundary and be bigger."

On Tuesday, the Revd Phil Williams, Assistant Curate of Holy Trinity, Brompton, who will be a co-leader of the evening service, with the Revd Darren Wolf, said that the partnership had emerged from friendship. Both he and Mr Wolf have lived and worked in the East End. He said that half the population of the parish was under 29, including 2000 students.

"We want to engage with younger people in the area, including the student demographic, and that is something that HTB and its network churches have got great experience of doing," he said. "There is a lot of good news about church growth in London, but there is a lot of work to be done in east London."

Christ Church's existing congregation numbers 130. Mr Rider expects that it will grow to 400 to 500 in the next two to three years, and is praying for growth beyond that. A launch service will take place on 14 September.

Last week, Mr Williams was commissioned by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, at Focus, an annual summer holiday organised by Holy Trinity. Its other church-plants and partnerships include a church-plant in Kuala Lumpur, to be led by an Assistant Curate of Holy Trinity, the Revd Miles Toumlin.

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