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What we do: Our churches

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The Church of England is made up of 41 dioceses. Each diocese is divided into parishes. The Diocese of London is a patchwork of parishes covering 277 square miles of Greater London north of the Thames from Staines in the west to the Isle of Dogs in the east and as far north as Enfield.

The parish is the heart of the Church of England. Each parish is overseen by a parish priest, usually called a vicar or rector. From ancient times through to today, they, and their bishop, are responsible for the ‘cure of souls’ in their parish. That includes everyone. And this explains why parish priests are so involved with the key issues and problems affecting the whole community.

To find your nearest parish church, see our directory. For churches outside of the Diocese of London, visit A Church Near You.

Other forms of church presence

Parish churches remain at the core of our understanding of how we serve our city. London is a series of small villages and neighbourhoods, and the concept of ‘parish’ still has real traction, even though people may commute across parish boundaries to attend their church of choice. Overlaying the parish system, and complementary to it, are other forms  (listed below) including chaplaincies, youth & ethnically-based congregations and ‘missional communities’.

1.1 Network churches

Churches which serve people who are not necessarily locality-based, and whose relationships are more network than neighbourhood. Such churches will usually cross parish boundaries.

1.2 Ethnically-based churches

For many of London’s ethnic and nationality based groupings, English may be a second language, and they may wish to worship in the style and culture of their mother tongue and ethnic group. We work with such groups and enable those who wish to give Anglican expression to their worship and mission to be incorporated into our parochial structures.

1.3 Youth congregations

It is sometimes appropriate to set up a separate youth congregation in order to evangelise and disciple young people within their own cultural milieu. Normally such congregations are attached to a parish or network church.

We continue to pursue a vigorous policy of Church Planting wherever mission opportunity arises, and wherever possibilities can be created.

Led by the Bishop of Islington, the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication (CCX) supports people across the Diocese in creating or renewing 100 new worshipping communities. Visit the CCX website for resources, stories and guidance.

The Church of England has written extensively about Fresh Expressions, defined as “a form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.”

They are:

  • missional – serving people outside church
  • contextual – listening to people and entering their culture
  • educational – making discipleship a priority
  • ecclesial – forming church.

Find out more about Fresh Expressions.

Other new ecclesial communities include ambient expressions of church – alternative forms of church worship and networks typically suited to a generation and culture for whom inherited church patterns of worship don’t work.

These communities may be marked by:

  • the exploration of new forms of worship and liturgical expression;
  • a desire for artistic expression;
  • a sense of shared community;
  • peer-to-peer evangelism; and
  • a deep commitment to justice and peace issues.

New areas of housing and major development will be places where we look to build Christian community, either through a plant, or by promoting grass-roots growth of a Christian community in situ.

Find out more about Strategic Programmes.

Our schools offer huge potential for developing new or parallel worshipping communities alongside the parish church. This may be key to resourcing churches in new developments.

Find out more about Schools.

Chaplains are the church’s face in the world outside church.

Our chaplains work in the armed forces, among Deaf and Deafblind People, in healthcare, international communities, prisons, schools, universities and the workplace.

Find out more about our chaplains.

Another significant development is that of Missional Communities, defined as communities constituted by a specific missional purpose in relation to a network or a place. These will normally be communities without buildings, defined by relationship, meeting in homes, cafes and pubs; designed to be places where those who would be highly unlikely to join institutional church might find faith and be discipled.

Image: St Pancras Parish Church by Steve Cadman used under Creative Commons licence.

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