“All this sounds great… but are you going to stay?”
So came the resounding question from a friendly but cautious voice of a resident of Gurnell Grove as The Grove team began to scope out the lay of the land for planting and being church community amidst this estate.
Mark and Laura Tate lead The Grove Missional Community, in Ealing, with a collection of six other team members. Pulled together by a mutual love for sharing Jesus and a heart for otherwise unreached places in London – particularly estates, this team felt a calling to be a missional community in the heart of the Gurnell Grove estate in West London.
The Grove team took part in the Church Planting course at the Centre for Church Planting and Growth, and are a plant out of St Paul’s Ealing, remaining a part of the wider church family there. Plans were made early in 2015 to plant into the estate and minister to the people living there, and as part of their vision, six of the eight team members plan to move on to the Gurnell Grove estate, with two already moved in. Their desire is not just to be an external entity sent in to bless the community, but to become a part of the community itself and bless it from the inside.
Mark and Laura moved to the estate in summer 2016, just prior to launching as a missional community in September. The team aim to be around for the estate to meet as many people as they can, often prayer walking during the week and meeting people as they go. They also meet on Thursday evenings to gather for fellowship.
The Grove exists to create community and share Jesus amongst the residents of Gurnell Grove estate, with a keen desire not merely to attract Christians already living in the area, but to gather a community of non-believers and lead them towards a relationship with Jesus.
They have now started more public gatherings, rather than just meeting in people’s homes. Including their once a month pop-up events, normally involving food, as a time to invite anyone from the estate to come and get to know each other. At Christmas, they set up on the estate green and handed out brownies and hot chocolate. They are also exploring what a once a month worship gathering on a Sunday in the community centre might look like.
Just through living in the place, the team have already seen the blessing and provision of God through meeting and getting to know members of the community. Two months after his initial encounter with the cautious resident curious if they were going to stay, Mark was nominated by the same resident to be the new Chair of the Resident’s Association. And as of this week – he’s been elected!
The team are looking to start up a Parents and Tots group in the community centre, which will be helped along by being part of the Resident’s Association, and these kinds of opportunities seem to keep falling into place for the team as they begin their mission here on Gurnell Grove. There are stories of people that God is bringing literally right to the front door, and The Grove team are welcoming them in, in the name of Jesus.
The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.
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