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Reform Magazine | April 23, 2024

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Let there be Church - Reform Magazine

Let there be Church

The challenges and triumphs of starting a new church, by Sally and Andrew Willett

In 2016, the pair of us were called to plant a United Reformed, Anglican and Methodist church in West Thamesmead, southeast London. It soon became clear we were being asked to build something out of nothing, with no team, people, building or manse in area. Even our car gave up on us on moving day, expiring expensively on double red lines in the shadow of city tower blocks.

On first inspection, West Thamesmead seemed deserted. Population concealed behind front doors. Streets silent, save the rumble of traffic. Before church could succeed, community had to grow.

Election day provided an opportunity for conversation. As voters arrived, we stood outside the polling stations, introducing ourselves, inviting locals for coffee, cake and an opportunity to share their ideas.

In response, we organised a succession of community events – pamper afternoon, barbecue etc. At these, we shared our church planting dreams. We also began explicitly Christian events – healing service, multicultural harvest, gigs, impromptu nativity, Messy Church etc.

Ten months later, at the local school, Sunday worship began. West Thamesmead Community Church (WTCC), an intergenerational and intercultural church, was born…

Sally and Andrew Willett are ministers at West Thamesmead. Visit or view the nativity glow trail at


This is an extract from an article published in the November 2021 edition of Reform

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