Beside the railway lines, in the shadow of the gas works and nestled amongst a group of housing estates, Dalgarno is representative of many of the ‘forgotten estates’ of inner London. Every day hundreds of thousands of people whizz by at great speed as they commute in and out of London with absolutely no knowledge of its existence.
St Francis Community Church, in the heart of the estate, has been a place of prayer and worship for the community over decades and recently celebrated 75 years of being active in the community. In 2010, Rev Azariah France-Williams became the church’s new leader, with a desire to make it a place of shelter and empowerment, both for the members of the church and for the wider community.
We asked Rev Azariah recently what it means to ‘be church’ in partnership with Eden, from his perspective. “For me, church is the combination of these incredible human beings that God has put on this earth, made in his image, working together for his glory,” he said.
“Without the Eden team, we wouldn’t be who we are or where we are today,” said Rev Azariah. “They serve practically on a Sunday, through hospitality and giving technical expertise; they are really involved in the community, getting more and more involved with the youth services, getting involved with the secondary school. They are such an encouragement. In fact they are role models for the rest of us at church. I as a minister feel sometimes I am a step behind when they come forward with an idea, which we then adopt. So it’s brilliant, there’s a real sense that there’s a mutual love, mutual blessing and mutual resource between the church and Eden.”
“What gives me hope for the church? It is when I look out at the congregation and I see people that are so diverse, so excited, from every background and walk of life,” concludes Rev Azariah, “coming together under one roof, recognising that there is a power greater than themselves, that can give them the power for living. For me that gives me hope.”