Our Church Life
Glimpses of our wider life ...
Churches have a clear main purpose, which is prayer and worship and Christian fellowship. Our remarkable church building was designed purely with this brief in mind and this remains at the heart of our life and purpose as the Body of Christ in Bow Common.
However, to be true to our purpose we must be true to the One whom we follow and whose Spirit, example and teaching we are here to follow. In his time Jesus got into trouble precisely for keeping company with those who were not signed up members of the religious establishment, especially those on the edge of society and this disregarded by many. Jesus certainly had strong things to say to the religious people of his day when they were guilty of hypocrisy and double-standards. It is impossible to be an active Christian and not also to be embedded in the life and concerns of those who - indeed - we are here to serve inChrist's name.
In 1858 the first Church of St. Paul was built in Bow Common. At that time this area literally was Common Land and even as urbanisation spread steadily eastwards from London this land was protected for food and pasture land. The arrival of the railways line as well as two canals and improved roadways meant that food now had other routes into the area. Bow Common was, therefore, bought up by William Cotton. He was a property developer and also a Governor of the Bank of England. He was also a philanthropist and a Christian man of conscience.
He was aware of the deeply empoverished people already living in the area for whom very few cared. Long before a single one of his new housing was built, out of his own pocket he built the first St. Paul's, Bow Common, with the strong support of his great friend, Bishop Charles Blomfield, Bishop of London, a good and caring pastor.
As you can see in this picture published 50 years after the event, this great and fine church was built even before the main Burdett Rd. had yet been built and the surrounding rhubarb fields were about to diappear for ever! This was a man who believed that the needs of all were the concern of the committed Christian and this fine church ministered to those who were already there - both spiritually and physically, with a church school soon built - as well, latter, for those who were yet to come.
In the second decade of the 21st century enormous changes are taking place under our eyes inthis area with more cranes rising all around us than at any time since the 2nd Wordl War. William Cotton is a real inspiration to us - a very practical man with his feet on the ground and wise about all that regeneration involves. Yet, he deeply believed that all people matter and that the Church is here to serve all who are in the community and not just its own needs.
This we try to continue in that spirit, which is no less than the spirit of the Christian Gospel and actively to live a wider life as well as our primary life as 'The House of God, the Gate of Heaven.'
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