[Skip to Content]

21 June 2017

One week on: bringing God's love to the Grenfell Tower community

One week on: bringing God's love to the Grenfell Tower community

In the hours and days following the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington, Latymer Community Church has been at the heart of the community response. Jamie Sewell, part of the leadership of the church and lead worker for London for The Message Trustshares what the last week has been like and what the community is planning for the future.   

Latymer Community Church sits at the foot of Grenfell Tower, right at the heart of the Ladbroke Grove estate. Almost every member of the church lives on the estate, including the Eden team - sent by The Message Trust to work with young people on the estate - who were evacuated from their flats in the blocks next to the tower at about 2am last Wednesday.  

As the extent of the emergency became clear, the church community began to respond, openning the doors of the church to the public during the early hours to provide a place of refuge for those both from the tower and the surrounding homes, meeting the immediate physical needs and providing pastoral care. The church stayed open during Wednesday as volunteers and donations poured in from around the local area. By the end of the day, as the networks of community centres, churches and mosques became more coordinated, LCC was responsible for feeding those who still had nowhere to go. The doors were shut at about 8pm, with those needing a place to sleep heading to the Westway Project. 

On Wednesday evening, the LCC team decided to put up a prayer wall – an image that’s been shared on the news and social media. It was established as place for people to write their thoughts and express their feelings, as well as a place of prayer. In the moments immediately after it was set up people from the community began to gather to write prayers and messages about those they had lost,  taking the opportunity to grieve. The LCC team were joined by friends from London City Mission who offered to pray for them and as the group stood with their arms around each other on the streets, they were joined by other members of the community in prayer; a community desperate for hope and ready to pray. 

By Friday, the atmosphere on the estate had shifted to one of deep sadness as the reality of the situation began to hit home. Many LCC members had lost friends and acquaintances, even the loss of familiar but unknown faces from the estate hit hard. The church family itself has been devastated. 

On Sunday morning, LCC hosted an open air service in the church car park in a deliberate act of proclamation over the community. Supported by The Message Trust, and with the help of Frog Orr-Ewing from the local Latymer Minster community, the service was an opportunity for the those on the estate to gather in worship and prayer. Gospel singers Rachel Kerr and Lurine Cato joined the team, alongside worship leaders from nearby Kensington Temple

During the service the Fire Brigade made their way through the crowds that had gathered on the roads around the church, and were clapped and cheered as they drove through with Frog Orr-Ewing speaking out scripture over them as they went. The footage has been shared widely on the national and social media

A week on from the tragedy, attention is beginning to turn towards the long-term plan for the community. As well as those very directly impacted by the deaths of the victims, no one from the estate has escaped being impacted by the fire. LCC is already putting in place support for long-term care. 

In collaboration with Will van der Hart from Mind and Soul Ministries, they are looking to support the community with mental health care, while Latymer Minster are continuing to help resource Sunday mornings. They are also looking to support parents as they journey with their children, talking through the events together and are partnering with Kids Matter to equip families to process the tragedy. 

In the midst of deep pain, LCC has seen God’s provisional work first-hand. Many of the connections that were needed in the initial hours were already established through community links and networks which have been being established over decades of community engagement. Partnerships have come together quickly and effectively because local Church unity has been sought out and nurtured: God has gone before us. Prayers said before the fire for more workers have been answered in abundance as thousands of people visited the community in the last week to talk and pray with those in grief. 

LCC also knows that there is a deep need for peace and godly justice, and it is this that they are asking the Church across the UK to pray for. Grief can turn to rage, but violence will not help the community get the answers they need to move on. In the coming weeks, months and years, please join the Church in Ladbroke Grove by praying for peace and for God's own justice to be established in the community. 

 

If you would like to support the work that is going on, please visit the Latymer Community Church website. If you would like to support the mental health work, please get in touch with Mind and Soul

Image: Latymer Community Church