A Church with a History and a Future
Since becoming our London Director in April, Trevor Archer has been spending time getting to know the FIEC churches within the M25. His latest trip took him to Woodford Evangelical Church – he says it’s thriving.
Winston Churchill was Woodford’s local MP for many years. It’s a fact proudly marked by a splendid statue in his honour in the town. Yet Woodford, like virtually all the London Boroughs and Constituencies, is a very different place than when the great man was its local MP.
Today it is home to many different ethnic communities, in particular from Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. Woodford Evangelical Church (WEC) is part of this community – it’s a church made up of a mix of ages as well as people from different parts of the world.
So it was a joy for Val and I to join with the church as it celebrated its 31st birthday in April. Since its founding, the members at WEC have shared a common DNA of a deep missionary interest coupled with a prayerful desire to reach their own community.
Simon Percy served as the pastor for 24 years before taking up the post of Director of Pastor Training International, a UK based ministry that seeks to serve hundreds of leaders in developing countries through visits, teaching seminars and correspondence courses.
A wonderful testimony
Jon Drane took over as Pastor from Simon. Jon’s story is a wonderful example of the faithful tenacity of God and His praying people.
Jon’s wife Jan was befriended by Helen Percy (Simon’s wife) at the school gate and began attending the church. Though the son of a pastor, there was no way Jon intended to attend church – he was on the run from all that! However, grudgingly and reluctantly at first, Jon began attending the church and it was during a church weekend away that the Lord met with Jon in no uncertain way. As the saying goes: “the rest is history.”
“History”, in this case, was to see Jon soon leave his job as a postman to train for Christian ministry, initially at Oak Hill College and then at Cornhill whilst serving at the church. Little could Jon have imagined that within a matter of years he would be pastoring the church he came to Christ in – such are the delightful surprises the Lord springs upon His people!
Today, under Jon’s leadership, the church is continuing to grow in discipling its people and has a heart to reach out to the surrounding community. In the Lord’s goodness the local council have leased the church Prospect Hall – a suite of community rooms that also houses a pre-school – to run and to be their home.
Next year the church’s associate pastor, Keith Ferdinando—a missionary recently returned from central Africa who has served on staff for the past 3½ years—will be stepping down, and it is planned that a young assistant pastor will take his place.
Reaching Woodford for Christ
In the meantime Adrian Hodder, a student from Oak Hill College who is on placement at WEC, has been serving in the church by preaching, helping with the youth work and upgrading the website. He is one of 50 FIEC folk who have benefited from a grant from the FIEC Training Fund.
Adrian has also been involved in one of the most fruitful recent ministries which has been the rekindling of monthly door-to-door visits to homes in the streets immediately adjoining Prospect Hall. There is a heart to expand this work, and the church is in advanced discussions with London City Mission about partnering to reach a local council estate with the gospel.
Val and I came away really heartened by all that is happening at WEC. A warm, generous, gospel-hearted community of believers, faithfully determined to make Christ known at home and abroad.
We reflected that WEC is also typical of scores and scores of FIEC churches up and down Britain – faithfully praying and seeking to make the good news known in their localities. So keep going brothers and sisters!
Who knows, the Lord may yet have a few more like Jon and Jan Drane up His sleeve!