05 June 2013
Lewisham churches unite for the good of the community
The Lewisham Churches United (LCU) prayer and praise evening on Sunday, 2 June, saw 800 Christians from churches across Lewisham join together at the Broadway theatre in Catford, south-east London. The event was organised by the Tabernacle Church and supported by the Love Lewisham church leaders forum and Ecumenical Borough Deans.
The aim of the event was to celebrate and promote unity among Christian churches in the London borough, highlight Christian initiatives currently operating, raise awareness of specific concerns in the community and look to increasingly work together to positively and practically impact the borough.
Pastor Michael White, senior pastor of the Tabernacle Church, said: "As churches with a range of diversity we gathered from across the borough for a night of unity, stating that we are one people, worshiping the one God, with one goal of building greater relationships with each other that impact our city for the greater good."
Before the service began leaders from faith communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and Christians gathered outside the town hall chambers next to the theatre, along with Lewisham's Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and local police. This was organised when Lewisham faith and community leaders met with borough police commanders on 24 May. They decided that in response to the recent Woolwich attacks in the neighbouring borough of Greenwich, leaders from different faiths should gather as a symbol of community cohesion and solidarity. The leaders united for a minute's silence to remember Drummer Lee Rigby, and then put their purple handprints on the 10,000 Hands Making Lewisham Safe banner as a sign of unity. This banner is part of the Young Citizen's City Safe Haven campaign, working to make neighbourhoods safer and more welcoming.
During the service one of Lewisham's police commanders encouraged churchgoers to focus on what they can do outside the walls of their church buildings, saying that just like good police officers Christians need to spend time on the streets and in the community. Rev Les Isaacs later encouraged all Christians to become Street Pastors, showing the love of Jesus when people are often vulnerable on the streets late on a Saturday night. People were also encouraged to join School Pastors, which will begin soon in the borough.
The multicultural worship team with representatives from six churches rocked the theatre with vibrant praise and worship, interspersed with prayer on topics including peace, welfare reforms, young people and church leaders.
Caro, a local street pastor, said: "Lewisham Churches United was an expression of unity and partnership, not only between local churches, but between churches and the community, in particular the Police. Brilliant. More Lord!"
Pastor Michael White added: "The social and spiritual challenges we face in our boroughs and city are too many for any one local church to address by themselves. It is of course when churches work together that the greatest impact is made. However, working together is often achieved when churches can first of all worship together, and it is to that end the LCU event will have its greatest effect."