Two-minutes’ walk from Bank station in the City of London, St Clement’s Eastcheap claims to be the church immortalised in the opening words of the famous nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons…’, though St Clement’s, Danes further west on Fleet Street may have other ideas!

The earliest record of a church on Eastcheap is found in a deed written in the reign of Henry III (1207–72), which mentions ‘St Clement Candlewickstrate’.  The mediaeval building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666 and its rebuilding attributed to Sir Christopher Wren.

After centuries as a parish church, services ceased in 1988 and the building became home to modern offices for charitable organisations. But in recent months an emerging Sunday service for young people and students is restoring worship to St Clement Eastcheap for the first time in 35 years.

The St Clement’s 5pm gathering is one of four services now offered by Imprint Church, overseen by the Revd Wole Agbaje and commissioned by the Bishop of Islington.

The leader of the new congregation, Luca Martini, doesn’t underestimate how surprising, even unlikely, the story of this new service and growing community is.

‘In September, we spread the word about a new service,’ says Luca. ‘A worshipping community for students and young adults. Before the first service we didn’t know what to expect – we had a surprise!

‘Students were bringing their friends along and that week without even asking, young people were coming forward after the talk to follow Jesus. The service went on for three hours!’


Young speaker at the front of church
Worship at the front of church

Since then, the Sunday service has gone from strength to strength, with newcomers attending each week. It offers worship, prayer, and Bible teaching – with each element of the service incorporating dynamic media, using technology to aid their creative expression.

Alongside Sundays, Imprint Club meets on Thursday afternoons at St Clement’s, with young people coming together to join in prayer and Bible study. Luca and his team are intentionally investing in those who want to develop their faith, offering a Discipleship Year to students, which sees them become part of the Imprint team for a year, joining core meetings and gaining discipleship training with the wider team while continuing their studies.

The community recently celebrated its first baptism – someone who had previously no Christian background and had never been to church before attending a St Clement’s service. ‘His friend brought him along,’ explains Luca, ‘He kept coming even after the friend had left London – and then he followed Jesus.

‘Each Sunday, we welcome new faces; alongside students and their friends we’ve had whole families coming along. And because of St Clement’s central location, people pop in – visitors to London from all nations, and those who are just passing. St Clement’s is a place where we relate, where we welcome, where we want people to feel they can come and be at home.’

So how does Luca account for what they are seeing at St Clement’s, the growth of this new community of students and young people from almost nowhere, whose numbers are increasing each week?

‘What is happening is little to do with us’, he says. ‘It’s all to do with God’s favour. He has given us the gift and the responsibility of reaching a new generation and we feel so blessed to be part of God’s plan. We were ready with everything; we had a team, but we needed a building and God opened the doors.

‘Reaching out in his grace, his hand had prepared a place, and he cleared a path in the heart of London to a historic church where there had been no services for 35 years – so that a bunch of young people could go in to celebrate and to worship him.’

Archdeacon of London, Fr Luke Miller agrees: ‘This is a new chapter for St Clement’s in a long history. It’s good news for today and so wonderful to see the life and joy that the new community of Imprint has brought to St Clement’s!’

Imprint Church 5 pm Student & Youth Service meets at St Clement Eastcheap every Sunday

Imprint Club meets from 4.30 pm – 6.30 pm on Thursdays