Lewisham Churches United

The Lewisham Churches United (LCU) prayer and praise evening on Sunday, 2 June, saw 800 Christians from churches across Lewisham join together at the Broadway theatre in Catford, south-east London. The event was organised by the Tabernacle Church and supported by the Love Lewisham church leaders forum and Ecumenical Borough Deans. 

The aim of the event was to celebrate and promote unity among Christian churches in the London borough, highlight Christian initiatives currently operating, raise awareness of specific concerns in the community and look to increasingly work together to positively and practically impact the borough. 

Pastor Michael White, senior pastor of the Tabernacle Church, said: “As churches with a range of diversity we gathered from across the borough for a night of unity, stating that we are one people, worshiping the one God, with one goal of building greater relationships with each other that impact our city for the greater good.”

Before the service began leaders from faith communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and Christians gathered outside the town hall chambers next to the theatre, along with Lewisham’s Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and local police. This was organised when Lewisham faith and community leaders met with borough police commanders on 24 May. They decided that in response to the recent Woolwich attacks in the neighbouring borough of Greenwich, leaders from different faiths should gather as a symbol of community cohesion and solidarity. The leaders united for a minute’s silence to remember Drummer Lee Rigby, and then put their purple handprints on the 10,000 Hands Making Lewisham Safe banner as a sign of unity. This banner is part of the Young Citizen’s City Safe Haven campaign, working to make neighbourhoods safer and more welcoming.

During the service one of Lewisham’s police commanders encouraged churchgoers to focus on what they can do outside the walls of their church buildings, saying that just like good police officers Christians need to spend time on the streets and in the community. Rev Les Isaacs later encouraged all Christians to become Street Pastors, showing the love of Jesus when people are often vulnerable on the streets late on a Saturday night. People were also encouraged to join School Pastors, which will begin soon in the borough.

The multicultural worship team with representatives from six churches rocked the theatre with vibrant praise and worship, interspersed with prayer on topics including peace, welfare reforms, young people and church leaders. 

Caro Swan, a local street pastor, said: “Lewisham Churches United was an expression of unity and partnership, not only between local churches, but between churches and the community, in particular the Police. Brilliant. More Lord!”

Pastor Michael White added: “The social and spiritual challenges we face in our boroughs and city are too many for any one local church to address by themselves. It is of course when churches work together that the greatest impact is made. However, working together is often achieved when churches can first of all worship together, and it is to that end the LCU event will have its greatest effect.”

About the Writer

Lucy Olofinjana is a graduate of International Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of University of London. She also loves baking, travelling and watching chick-flicks, and is advocacy administrator for the Evangelical Alliance. Married to Israel, a Nigerian Bapti-costal, they aim to live out and encourage unity-in-diversity. Lucy is born-and-bred in Catford, south-east London, where they attend Catford Community Church and she leads Active Communities against Trafficking Lewisham.

An article from the Evangelical Alliance website.

About israelolofinjana

Rev Israel Oluwole Olofinjana is an ordained and accredited Baptist minister and has pastored Crofton Park Baptist Church (2007-2011) and Catford Community Church (2011-2013). He is currently the pastor of Woolwich Central Baptist Church, a multicultural church in south east London. He is Nigerian coming from a Pentecostal background. He holds a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and MTh from Carolina University of Theology (CUT). Israel is the editor of “Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the Global South in the UK” and author of “Reverse in Ministry and Missions: Africans in the Dark Continent of Europe” and “20 Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria” He has spoken in a number of conferences regarding reverse mission and Black Majority Churches (BMCs) and has also contributed to academic journals and Christian magazines on the subject of Black Majority Churches (BMC) in Britain. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at Queens Foundation, Birmingham and a trustee and visiting lecturer at Redcliffe College. Israel is also one of the Directors of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World an initiative design to train and equip pastors and missionaries from the South. He is a member of the Global Connections council. When he is not preaching or writing he is playing with Lego! He is happily married to Lucy who works as the Media and Communications Officer with Churches Together in England. She is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), earning a BA in Social Anthropology and International Development. Lucy loves baking and watching movies! They are blessed with one son, Iyanuoluwa (God's miracle)
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