Listening to the community: Why Charlton’s C of E churches have launched an action plan

St. Luke's Church, Charlton
There has been a church dedicated to St Luke in Charlton since the 11th century

Charlton’s two C of E churches, St Luke’s and St Thomas’, are pledging to do more in the community over the next few years. REVD LIZ NEWMAN, the rector of the Benefice of Charlton, outlines its new action plan, which includes setting up a youth cafe and schemes to combat loneliness and social injustice.

What is mission? In the Church, one short answer to that question is that it’s “finding out what God is doing and then joining in!” But before we can join in, we need to listen to what’s happening.

At St Luke’s and St Thomas’ churches, we’ve been doing a lot of listening over the past year. Listening to our community, to ourselves and to God. As a result we’ve come to some conclusions about what we believe God is calling us to be and do. And we’ve decided on our priorities for the next three to five years.

So what is top of our list? Where are we going to put energy, time and love?

  • Engaging and nurturing children and young people
  • Sharing our faith confidently
  • Reaching isolated groups
  • Better community engagement

The recent United Nations report on poverty in this country highlighted shocking statistics about the impact on our poorest communities of living with little. Knife crime and gang culture is taking and ruining far too many young lives in our city. We live in challenging times of injustice, and that is a concern to people of all faiths and none.

Jesus was on the side of the poor and dispossessed, and following his example means we need to be as well. We are already part of Greenwich Winter Night Shelter, which houses 15 homeless people through the coldest months of the winter. And we have plans to start an open access Youth Café, to strengthen and extend our existing Schools Project, to run fun activities for children during school holidays, to develop a mental wellbeing project and a social justice project and to grow a project that will combat loneliness.

Charlton is a place that is set to grow hugely in the coming years. We need to be able to live together well, so that everyone can belong and flourish. St Thomas’, St Luke’s and St Richards Church Centre want to work with our local communities for the good of all.

We have plans to make connections with people and places in our local area that we haven’t had relationships with before, to develop our churches as community hubs and to continue to work with other local people and the council to ensure that Charlton Riverside becomes a true community where there is plenty of affordable and social housing.

Our faith motivates who we are and what we do. Because we believe in a God of love, in whose sight we are all precious, we want to meet people where they are and help them discover that good news for themselves. So we’re building our own confidence and aiming to grow new congregations at St Luke’s, St Thomas and St Richard’s. They won’t necessarily look like traditional church, because traditional church isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But that’s fine, because if church listens and adapts, there is room for everyone. And of course, we’ll be aiming to grow traditional church as well!

The teachings of Christ underpin all that we do. We’re striving to be people who are joyful, live in loving relationship with God and our neighbours, are good listeners, forgive, work for justice and celebrate diversity. We have a lot of plans and we know we’re being ambitious! But we are trusting and living in hope. And on the way, we’re expecting to discover what we’re here on this earth for.

We believe Charlton is the place that God has given us to love and we look forward to doing just that over the years to come. If you want to know more, please visit our website at www.charlton.church. And, whoever and whatever you are, you will always be welcome at our churches and to join in the adventure that lies ahead.


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