Annual Report Summary 2021-2022
Covering the period 01 August 2021 to 31 July 2022
Covering the period 01 August 2021 to 31 July 2022
Christ Church London currently has five services on four sites across the capital and we are excited to be preparing for the start of our sixth service in September 2022. This will be a Cantonese speaking service in Sutton.
This report summarises a vast array of activity that Christ Church London has done over the last year. At the heart of all of this is our services and the Connect Groups that are part of them: it is through these that we build community, make disciples and from which the energy and strength to serve the city emanates.
These services are undergirded by our pastoral team who are available to those in need across our services, as well as providing high quality online seminars and resources.
Many individuals have also experienced personal change and growth through our STEPS Courses and we continue to be encouraged by the great feedback we receive from individuals at Christ Church London and from churches around the UK and further afield who have also been hosting STEPS Courses.
This combination of services, Connect Groups, Pastoral Care and STEPS courses provide the springboard for the more explicitly mission orientated work of our Alpha Courses, social action ministries and the Everything Network.
We are also very thankful for the annual Gift Day which raised £179,000 including Gift Aid and future pledges, surpassing our target of £150,000. We have been overwhelmed with God’s goodness and people’s generosity.
None of this would happen of course without our staff team. They have worked tirelessly again this year, maintaining a faith filled outlook in all they do. It was a real highlight to go away together as a staff team in February for our first staff retreat.
In a similar vein it was wonderful to spend the August bank holiday weekend together as a church at Ashburnham Place for our church retreat. The more services we start, the more important it is that we also have these times of being together.
We look forward to the year ahead with great anticipation and are grateful for the privilege we have in joining God in all that He is doing in this city.
In closing, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the incredible generosity of the staff, volunteers, and trustees of Christ Church London, who have contributed their time and resources to the life of the church over the past year. None of this could have been done without them, and their love for God and desire to serve His church is an ongoing source of inspiration.
In the year, we encouraged our congregations to come back together as the government restrictions were lifted following the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased that our Sunday services have continued to provide a place where collective worship, learning and discipleship takes place, and ultimately help people to grow in their faith. We aim to present a rounded Bible teaching programme, as well as meet the needs and challenges of this unique moment.
In the year we had multiple sermon series including our Advent Series ‘A People Waiting’ and ‘Living Hope’, which explored rediscovering our identity and purpose, using 1 Peter as our guide. A highlight of the year was the series in the lead up to Easter called ‘Jesus the King’, focusing on the kingdom He initiated. The series began by looking at the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and then focused on what happened next; the ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.
This year we have focussed on building our community. We did this through DIY Sundays at our Coborn Street building, and by creating spaces in the building where the community can gather together. We had several weddings in the building this year which helped build the sense of family amongst the church community. It is wonderful to see God working through the Mile End congregation by having the building as a foundation point.
In the spring we invited Adnan and Jessica Khan to our leadership team – they both play a big role in the running of the evening service. We also began a research project called ‘Know your neighbour’, where a group of us are studying the social, civic and cultural dynamics, organisations and institutions of Mile End to prayerfully discern where God may be opening new opportunities for mission and social action.
In Autumn 2021 the Central and Covent Garden services formally merged and gathered in-person again at the Old Theatre each Sunday morning. During the year, there has been a continued emphasis of regathering and strengthening the core of the service. This was mainly accomplished through a regular midweek gathering for the whole service to eat together, worship and fellowship together, which helped to develop a spirit of community. On the back of these gatherings, we launched three new Connect Groups. This has proven to be instrumental in growing the service again following the lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions which made travelling into Central London for church difficult for many.
This has by comparison been the most challenging year for the Stockwell service. Many have been struggling finding a good rhythm in getting used to life after lockdown. We have said goodbye to a beloved service leader and family, and on the back of COVID more than 30% of the service have moved out of London or chosen a church within walking distance to where they live.
The service has responded amazingly to these challenges with strong engagement in a renewed vision process, times of prayer and fasting and taking on more responsibility. There is a sense that the Autumn term will mark the beginning of a new, exciting chapter for the service.
The Sutton service has grown significantly over the last year. We are now gathering at least 140 adults plus about 90 children on a Sunday with a crowd of about 250 adults and 150 children. Of this number, we’ve had up to 100 Hong Kongers (adults) attend church, and about 2/3 would call CCL their church home. We are now planning to start a weekly Cantonese service in September to both serve those who are still learning the language and the culture, as well as those who are yet to move to the area – over 400 adults are expected to arrive in Sutton over the summer alone.
Even with a weekly Cantonese service, the space is limited in our current venue, and we are exploring starting another English-speaking service as well.
In October, the Church at Home model wrapped up and CCL began a live stream service, based at the Central service. The live stream requires relatively low technical needs on a Sunday and is able to go directly onto the CCL website. While the intention is to gather most people in-person to build community, the live stream has proved useful to reach those not yet comfortable traveling into church, or for those further afield who call CCL their home.
In November 2021 we re-opened the Vauxhall centre for clients to attend in-person after a long period of being closed due to COVID. We are partnering with Hope Church Vauxhall to provide a free hot breakfast for all who come along. Our Wednesday morning sessions have grown into a flourishing social space, where those from the local community can come and enjoy each other’s company as well as accessing signposting advice and food parcels. We also are partnering with National Energy Action to provide in-person energy advice during our sessions which includes access to fuel vouchers and applications to Warm Welcome Fund. We have a wonderful team of volunteers who are able to signpost our clients to local services in order to address their needs. We also partner with St Luke’s West London Mission to refer clients to a digital inclusion session which runs close to the Foodbank on Wednesdays after our sessions.
We have been successful in winning joint funding to provide an in-house Debt and Benefits Adviser through Brixton advice centre. This adviser will be based in our sessions from October onwards and will help those in need to tackle the root cause of their crisis. We have raised £58,000 through our Crowdfunder and other external donors. A further £30,000 was raised through food donations. The Foodbank model has grown successfully and is almost entirely self-funded.
The Sutton service also launched a Community Project in the Thomas Wall Centre in Central Sutton, where they give out free fruit & vegetable boxes to people in the need in the local community. They are serving between 90 and 100 families per week, and providing a community cafe, as well as support and prayer for those in need. As well as engaging over 60 volunteers in this project, Christ Church London has also covered the rent for 6 months, with the other half being donated by donors in the local community.
We have continued our support of two Child Survival Programs in Rwanda through Compassion UK, as well as our partnership with International Justice Mission’s Field Office in the Dominican Republic. We also supported Big Kid Foundation, 222 Ministries, Growth, Refugee Education UK, and Tearfund’s disaster relief.
Over the year we have seen 418 people participate in a STEPS course, of whom approximately 7 were church leaders. 17 English-speaking churches ran STEPS in tandem with Christ Church London or on their own. The online format continued to be accessible and efficient, allowing us to run dedicated STEPS courses in the USA and Canada, and we launched the role of the STEPS Coaches to support external courses.
We launched an Online Training Day in June 2022 where we had representatives from 5 churches interested in facilitating STEPS. We continue to receive enquiries from churches and organisations from the UK and other countries regarding running STEPS. Our Resources website is actively used in helping facilitators run STEPS with 240 sign ups; and our termly Facilitator Training has been well-received by external churches who are running the courses. Over the Spring, we initiated the design of a STEPS Digital App, which will include an online version of the course book as well as the films and an audio recording of the course book. Initial preparations were taken with regard to the rolling out of STEPS from CCL, and we engaged a Fundraising Consultant to do a Strategic Review of STEPS.
"I have come to peace with my circumstances. The sting of anger has been replaced with thankfulness. I have released my family to God. I have released myself to His care."
This year, the pastoral team was run mainly by volunteers, overseen by a staff member. We have four pastoral team leaders overseeing the teams across all of our locations.
We created and released three filmed discussions on singleness, marriage and parenting, and collectively these have been viewed on YouTube 1150 times. We also ran an online seminar on mental wellbeing for children in an online world and 52 people joined this discussion, many of whom were from outside church.
The CAP Money Course was run three times and had 19 people attend over the course of the year. The Pre-Marriage Course ran in June 2022 with six couples taking part. We also trialled the Marriage Course, which had 9 couples take part. We also ran a pastoral training session for anyone interested in learning how to support others more effectively.
The pastoral team have continued to meet people one-to-one either in-person or on zoom to listen to and pray with people who have requested pastoral support.
In August 2021, we employed Erin Bradbury full-time as the Director of the Everything Network to expand our work in this ministry area. We have intentionally increased our fundraising efforts for Everything as part of this expansion, including bringing on a part-time fundraising consultant in March 2022. By 31 July 2022, nearly £70,000 was raised to support our growing work.
The 2022 Everything Conference was held in February as an in-person and online event at KXC’s Kings House, in partnership with World Vision UK, our global development partner for Everything. 288 tickets were sold with over 180 joining in person in King’s Cross.
David Stroud, Philippa Stroud and Pete Hughes delivered keynote talks, with contributions from historian Tom Holland, artist Joshua Luke Smith, Tim Campbell, Vanessa Morse of CEASE, the founders of Yes Friends, and members of the UK Race Equality Commission.
The Movement Leaders Everything Roundtable convened twice online during the year, to facilitate continued connection and allow for international participation. In November 2021, representatives from the families, legal team, and advocacy groups joined us to talk about efforts to support age-verification for commercial pornography sites. In June 2022, Rachel Gardner and Peter Lynas joined us to speak on how the church can navigate and lead well on issues surrounding sexuality and identity.
We also started convening monthly events for senior leaders and piloted a leadership training cohort, which has created great momentum for the growing work of Everything.