St Luke’s is part of the Church of England. Our parish is within the Diocese of London and our Bishop (Richard Chartres) has recently retired, but his brief covers 277 square miles and 17 boroughs of Greater London north of the Thames, from the massive Staines in the West to the Isle of Dogs in the East and as far north as Enfield.
Although the Church of England is going through some difficulties in the current era, notably in relation to its finances, declining numbers and running disagreements on controversial issues like sexuality, at St Luke’s we think the Church should be an inclusive one – “celebrating the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life opens the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation”. Go to Inclusive Church to find out more about the movement.
The Church of England already has an inclusive Archbishop, he is called Justin Welby.
A place to visit for a five minute meditation, favoured by several friends of our community, is Sacred Space, a site hosted by the Jesuits. Another intriguing and stimulating web stop-off is Moot, the online home of an ‘alternative’ worshiping community in London, which has strong links with St Luke’s.
Although the church building at St Luke’s was established in the C19th, a century or so later, interest had waned amongst local people to the extent that its future looked in doubt. When we entered a creative new partnership with a Christian Arts Festival called Greenbelt, things began to turn around.
Around about the same time, elsewhere in London, another alternative Christian community was being established, this one led by former house church leader and theologian, Dave Tomlinson, who these days is Vicar of St Luke’s. This community of people who have lost faith in the mainstream church continues and is called Holy Joe’s.
Each month at St Luke’s, we host a stall selling food and other products that are ‘fairly traded’ – for which the original producers in developing countries have received a fair price for. If you are visiting St Luke’s then the stall is on the first Sunday of the month – otherwise you can buy online here. Traidcraft is the UK’s leading Fair Trade organisation, helping poor communities work their way out of poverty.
Many people in our Church try to do a little bit to make the world a fairer place for the people who live in the poorest countries. One small development trust that we regularly support is The Amos Trust and some of us have spent time in Central America, Israel-Palestine and South Africa seeing the work of the partners of this small trust. Those partners in turn try to visit us when they are in London.
Two other agencies we try to work with are Christian Aid and The Trade Justice Movement, a new organisation which campaigns for trade justice – not free trade – with the rules weighted to benefit poor people and the environment.
Our parish of St Luke’s West Holloway has a dramatically contrasting mix of social groupings and each winter we are part of the Islington Churches Night Shelter project to provide meals and beds for homeless people in this part of London. It makes a difference for a while, but the work of combating poverty and hardship in the UK is year round and requires political change. One of the leading groups in tackling this is Church Action on Poverty.
Over the years, we have made good friendships with other Christian communities worldwide, people who drop in on us for a Sunday – or perhaps a decade – when they are in London. Some of our friends include Cityside Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand and Mike Riddell, writer and thinker, who often drops by.
As St Luke’s includes a healthy cohort of people involved in media and arts, there are lots of websites that members are involved in. More to follow…