Diverse and Holistic Urban Ministry in London (including preparation for ministry during the 2010 Olympics)

April 4, 2009
This report was submitted by WRF Board member John Nicholls who serves the London City Mission as its Chief Executive. John may be contacted at john@lcm.org.uk
 
 
The London City Mission was founded in 1835 and currently has over 200 salaried staff, and 220 registered volunteers. It has a wide variety of ministries which are run in seven Groupings, as follows:
 
  1. Community Ministries, reaching out to local communities and based on LCM-owned “Christian Centres”;
  2. Church-directed Ministries, with LCM team members placed on church ministry teams with a specific role of enabling the church to undertake a more thorough evangelistic outreach;
  3. Workplace Chaplaincy Ministries;
  4. Caring Ministries, to the elderly, whether in Care Homes, Nursing Homes or their own homes, and the hospitalised.
  5. Ministries to Special Communities – ethnic groups, followers of other religions, etc;
  6. Schools Work Ministry – mainly in Primary Schools across the city.
  7. Ministries to the Marginalised – including homeless people, those engaged in prostitution, and the imprisoned.
 
Some of the significant developments in the past year are as follows:
1.  “Departure 
Opened on May 1st 2007, and using arts courses, gallery, café and bookshop to establish and develop ministry opportunities with the local population, Departure has continued to develop successfully throughout 2008.    By the end of the year, weekly footfall figures had risen from 600 to between 1,500 and 2,000.    Several local churches have become enthusiastic supporters and users of the Centre.
 

2.  "The Hub”, Becontree
 
The refurbishment plan for the building housing this youth club has been carried through successfully, between July and December 2008, and has provided a virtually new, enlarged location.    More than two thirds of the funds for this work were raised by the local team, whose initiative and professionalism is highly commendable.   Numbers attending the re-opened club have risen encouragingly, with some 150 people now being registered members.   The Hub continues to receive plaudits from local organisations, including the Police, the Employment Service, and local churches. 
 
3. In addition to the Centre in Becontree,LCM’s presence on the Dagenham Estate (which has many social problems, including the highest rate of teenage pregancies in the European Union) includes the Dawson Centre further south.     The team here are running a range of ministries among all age groups, building good links with the local community, and (like the Becontree Centre) drawing volunteers and support from many local churches.    The Dagenham Estate is a good model of how the LCM can develop its traditional ministries in a way that engages, strengthens, and draws support from churches of various denominations.
 
4. One other centre’s ministry that should be singled out from among the many that are doing consistent and thorough work is the Randall Centre in Greenwich.    The team in this Centre has developed a unique ministry to the families of children who attend their clubs.   A family event is held every week, and has become a recognised feature of the local community.    This has led to co-operation with local community-policing initiatives on knife crime.
 
5. Ministries that are showing continued progress include Café Eterno in Covent Garden, with an increasing clientele and continuing co-operation with two local church initiatives;   the church-directed missionaries working with St Anne’s Church, Tottenham, on the Broadwater Farm Estate and elsewhere in the parish (this ministry was specially visited by the Bishop of London during 2008); and St James Church, Clerkenwell, which has 2 LCM staff attached to its team (this ministry is visited by student groups from Anglican theological colleges, as a model of inner-city ministry).

The work of LCM’s Workplace Chaplains continues to be appreciated, and the Mission’s experience in this field has been acknowledged by its representation on a committee for the selection of a senior chaplain for the Metropolitan Police; and the work in conjunction with Mission Care, Bromley, which provides residential care for the elderly for Bromley Borough Council, has been appreciated to the extent that discussions are underway to develop a wider ministry involving local churches, as a pilot scheme for ministry to senior citizens – something that is of great strategic significance, given the growth in the elderly population.
 
6. Webber Street, LCM’s ministry to homeless people in Waterloo has continued throughout the year, in close co-operation with ASLAN, the volunteer scheme run by All Souls Church, Langham Place (ASLAN provides the Saturday ministry at Webber Street).   Numbers attending have been high, with an increased influx from eastern Europe.   This has created some problems, as the current influx is more dysfunctional than the earlier one from Poland, and there has been a worrying increase in the level of violence within the homeless population in general, and at the Centre itself.    Local residents have expressed concerns about the impact this has on their streets, and the LCM is currently in discussion with local representatives to see how this situation can be effectively addressed.   Up to 2,400 cooked breakfasts are served each week, and the enlarged facilities at Webber Street enable twice as many men – and women – as previously to have regular showers and obtain fresh clothing.
 
7. Tamil Partnership   This is a completely new venture, in which the LCM is working closely with the Chelmsford Diocese of the Church of England and the mission organisation known as South Asia Concern.    The partnership has been established to support a church-planting ministry among the Tamil population of London, from both Hindu and Christian backgrounds, beginning with a work in East Ham.   Most of London’s large Tamil population are refugees from the on-going civil war in Sri Lanka.
 
Links with London churches
 
Urban Plant Life is a new venture in which the LCM is partnering with the South East Gospel Partnership (an inter-denominational grouping of evangelical churches) and with Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, which is in the forefront of church-planting initiatives in the USA and around the world.    An initial conference in November, 2008, was attended by over 300 church leaders from London, the rest of the UK, and several other parts of Europe.    This is being followed up in 2009 with a series of monthly consultations, hosted by LCM, each for 120 church leaders. Urban Plant Life has attracted much favourable publicity, and usefully presents LCM as an agency which can assist churches and denominations with their church-planting throughout the city.
 
“A Passion for Life” is a church-based Mission being planned for Easter, 2010 by Gospel partnerships across the UK.    LCM has been involved in preliminary consultations and is making available ideas, resources for training, and evangelistic help, to any churches which wish to make use of it.
 
Olympic Games, 2012   The LCM continues to be involved in discussions and preparation for Christian ministry before and during the Olympic Games.   
 
For more information, see our web-site at www.lcm.org.uk
 
We value your prayers and encouragement!