A recently-published report, Being Built Together, produced by the University of Roehampton, has investigated the problems Black Christians in the London Borough of Southwark have experienced finding suitable premises to hold worship services.
It’s estimated that over 20,000 congregants gather in Southwark every week to attend services in approximately 240 different churches but, because of a lack of suitable buildings, many Black church leaders have established churches in settings that don’t fit the local authority’s definition of a place ‘suitable for worship’.
The Report lists a number of recommendations to help churches in Southwark overcome these problems, including a call for the Greater London Authority (GLA) to address the issue of premises and planning for faith groups at a regional level, and for BMCs to build closer ties with their neighbourhood and raise awareness of the good they do.
The Report’s author, Dr Andrew Rogers (pictured), said “The new Black-majority churches are a gift to the Church and to the city of London. We hope that by highlighting the problems they face, the Borough of Southwark and, on a regional scale, the GLA; the new Black-majority churches, and the Church as a whole will take on board our Report’s recommendations to work towards finding innovative and lasting solutions to address these issues.”
Pastor Lincoln Serwanga, from Liberty Christian Fellowship in Camberwell, welcomed the Report’s recommendations: “We all – new churches and old – need to learn from each other and acknowledge our mutual strengths and weaknesses. The Report should help us to develop plans for working together to build God’s Church in a lasting and harmonious way.”