The light of hope shines from St. George’s Anglican Church, not only from the sign outside, but from the community of believers within. St. George’s introduces Jesus Christ to the community of Holborn through George’s Café, local charity Hope for Holborn, college student ministries, and church planting.
“Our prayer is that people become Christians and that one by one, the people of London come to know Jesus,” John Valentine, Rector of St. George’s Church, said. “We see the church as a community of welcome within London and try to reach people from missional communities to play our part to combat isolation and loneliness.”
St. George’s is just a few blocks from the campuses of University College London, School of Oriental and African Studies, King’s College and London School of Economics. John estimates that there are 68,000 students within walking distance of his church and that few know anyone who is a Christian.
Through the weekly college ministry, the church creates a family for students away from home. St. George Students meets on Mondays for dinner, worship and conversation and on Sundays for breakfast and worship with the larger congregation.
St. George’s Café offers dedicated space for students to meet together for coffee and friendship, as well as for the larger community to connect with others. St. George’s is also near several major hospitals.
“We have lots of people going through significant crises in their life,” John said. “We offer a space to have a cup of coffee, a conversation and possibly a prayer.”
Prayer cards are available for guests and volunteers mix and mingle to build organic friendships. St. George’s is working to create a natural pathway from coffee to Christ.
“That is a big leap for people,” John said. “There needs to be something in the middle that takes you from coffee, to community, to Christ, so we always aim to have something people can stay on for, such as a film club or a course on family.”
This ministry doesn’t end with a cup of coffee. Hope for Holborn started from the café because the founder kept giving his coat away to those who didn’t have one. Now, Hope for Holborn gives away 5 percent of its annual congregational income to individuals who need clothes, appliances or furniture.
“We feel overstretched sometimes because there is always more work than people,” John said. “We do what we can and listen to the Lord. We can’t do everything, but we can do what he calls us to do.”
As a church plant themselves, their goal is to plant a church every three years. They have already planted two churches in 2005 and 2009.
“We want to introduce the hope of Jesus Christ through scaled church planting,” John said. “We are raising up missional leaders and our key role is around that mission and to keep that vision fresh.”
As part of this vision and John’s D.Min. studies, John is developing a church planting course to help people understand the value and purpose of planting new churches, and to equip them to be able to be part of a sustainable plant.
“We want to give some really good, healthy theology [to people] that will help their church plant fly,” he said. “We want to plant healthy churches that don’t blow up in five years time.”
St. George’s plans to plant its next church in 2020.
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