This article was originally published in February 2017, when we sat down with Ian and Heather Rushton to chat all things Sutton.
Heather, you and your husband Ian are part of the community down in Sutton. Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? Ian and I are both from the Wirral and met in a youth group. When we went to university we moved apart – Ian went to Leeds to study to be a teacher, and I came to London to study speech and language therapy. I’ve actually been coming to Christ Church London pretty much since it started! Ian moved here in 2005, and in 2007 we got married. We have three wonderful boys: twins Ethan and Caleb who are five, and one-year-old Zachary. We lived in Bermondsey for 7 years before moving to Sutton a couple of years ago
So there a bunch of exciting stuff happening. What is it that you’re trying to do? Well essentially, we’re building up to becoming another Christ Church London service in Sutton. At the moment there’s about twenty adults who all live here and are committed to creating a community. We’re aiming to get that number up to forty, at which point we think we’ll have enough people to run a regular Sunday service. The next year or so is a period of experimentation to see how things work. Lots of us are families who’ve moved to Sutton for a bit more space, so we’re really focused on providing a great atmosphere for kids and an authentic community for our friends who don’t yet go to church.
How are you hoping to achieve this? Once a month we’re meeting in Sutton instead of at the Mermaid. We’ll have a time of worship, and then one of the Christ Church London preaching team will come and share a talk with us. Additionally, we’re gathering once a month on a Sunday to focus on creating a welcoming community in Sutton. Last Sunday we went to the park for a few hours, followed by inviting everyone to lunch at our house. We’re also running Alpha in Sutton, men’s and women’s discipleship evenings, football games, prayer evenings, and curry nights. We want to create fun events that people are able to bring their friends along to. A lot of us have families who live quite far away, so we’re trying to be family for each other.
Sounds like there’s loads going on at the moment. What’s your vision for the future? What are you dreaming for? We want to build real friendships and real community out here. We’d love to see people being open and honest with each other, and help them on their journey of faith. We’re already starting to establish partnerships with other churches in Sutton, because we think that we’re strongest when we work together. Our families are hugely important, so we’d love to make this a wonderful place for our children to grow up, which has a really thriving youth ministry. We’re totally invested in Christ Church London’s vision, and we want to be on the frontline of helping it happen locally. Essentially, I suppose, our dream is that we are people who love God and love one another.
How can we get involved? Pray for us! It would be great if people could pray for our next steps, particularly that we would find more passionate people who want to be part of our community here. Pray for us to remain looking outwards – we really want to be bold and courageous when inviting our friends to come along to events. But also, please consider moving to Sutton! Especially if you have young children and are looking to leave central London for somewhere with a bit more space. If you aren’t able to move here, come and visit! Come and hang out with us one Sunday at one of our socials, we’d love to have you.
Finally, if we ever do find ourselves in Sutton, where should we go? There are so many good places to hang out around here! The parks are beautiful, and the best part about Sutton is that it’s twenty-five minutes to Central London but is also super close to the countryside. There are some excellent country pubs – The Hope in Carshalton is one of the best. Make sure to bring your wellies!