The Bridge Battersea Move
by Tom Dowding, Pastor
After 11 years at 120 Battersea Bridge Road, The Bridge Battersea is on the move. Our landlords are redeveloping the building we’ve had as home since our first service in 2011; we will now be meeting in a local school on Sunday, another for youth work, and two community buildings for midweek events. After a legal curveball in December meant the building we’d been working towards decanting into was now off-limits, we are very grateful to our Father for providing four different buildings for our ministry in a fairly hectic last few weeks. He knows what we need!
The move will mean lots of changes in how we do ministry. We’ll be off the estate and out of the building where missionaries have ministered for 50 years. We won’t have a church building to run events, store property, and meet to have a cuppa with neighbours. We’ve needed to reschedule the time of our service, redesign ministries, and seek to continue relationships with locals – some of whom are angry at the creeping push of gentrification onto their estate.
But, having concluded a series on the life of Abraham in our last service in the building, it is warming to think that the same Lord who guided a nomadic, tent-dwelling Abraham is our Shepherd too. On our first Sunday in our new school home, we’ll be looking at Acts 11, where Christians displaced from their homes and gatherings in Jerusalem see this upheaval only advances Jesus’ gospel. Many Antiochians come to meet Christians and believe in a gospel they wouldn’t have heard without all this relocation. (Yes, I realise their move was due to persecution, and ours due to a plush, upmarket renovation, but we still didn’t choose the move...)
And the Lord is already dangling new opportunities before us. Our old youth group is no more – but the local school wants our excellent youth worker to mentor 20 of their trickiest kids. (As it turns out if you offer support for the worst behaved kids around, schools are very receptive.) Our seniors’ lunch club is moving to a new home that runs the local sheltered accommodation – and they’ve informed us of the 30 vulnerable, elderly people they look after snapping up any events with food and chat. Our community coffee-morning-cum-food-bank is moving to a neighbouring estate – to a very visible new hub, with big clear windows to tempt in onlookers who may not have stepped into a church.
In Acts 11, the geographic displacement (that none of the Christians would have chosen) meant the saving of many eternal lives through the gospel: ‘The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord’ (verse 21). Would you pray his hand would be with us too?