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St Luke’s Millwall

St Luke’s Millwall is in the Diocese of London and is a traditional church plant. Founded under a temporary five year Bishops Mission Order, it brought 18 members of the St Pauls Shadwell congregation to the Parish of Christ Church and St John with St Luke’s on Isle of Dogs. This highly deprived area in the shadow of the corporate towers of Canary Wharf had seen its church demolished and the small existing congregation were meeting in a local school.

A 2012 development grant from the Church Commissioners provided space and financial security for the Vicar and his wife (who works unpaid part time) to focus on building the community, providing a variety of outreach from Pub Church to fun days, as well as regular services. St Luke’s has seen strong and sustained growth from an initial joint congregation of 30 to a regular Sunday attendance of 75- 90, plus a wider mission field within the community.

The church has outgrown its home in the school and now meets in the community centre while waiting for a new building to be finalised and built. The model works well but is very dependent on the vision and commitment of the minister. St Luke’s was, for the first three years, dependent on additional outside funding for financial viability: it is expected to run a balanced budget in year four with only a small amount of outside funding.

Lessons from St Luke’s

Success came from using the well-established pattern for planting: a committed group of planters, many of whom moved to the area, joined a small existing core of worshippers. A strong focus on families, on community and based on a relational approach to ministry saw steady and sustained growth in numbers.

Relational ministry is at the heart of St Luke’s: “It’s important to meet them where they are” and to ensure whatever intervention the Church provides meets the needs of the community as far as possible.

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