The London Inreach Project
A Reformed Baptist Church Planting Project in Inner London
The Early Years of the London Inreach Project
It was in 1978 that concerned Reformed Baptists gathered for the first time under the
auspices of the London Inreach Project Committee to formally begin to explore the possibilities
for church planting within the heart of London.
During the latter half of 1980 the conviction grew amongst the Committee members that the area in which initial work ought to be focused should be Soho, the area in London's West End bounded by Regents Street, Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Shaftsbury Avenue. On 17 January 1981 the then Chairman of the Project, Eric Holdstock, called together the first public meeting in Soho to establish the work. In October 1982 Michael Toogood was appointed as a full time worker and moved into a small flat in Marshall Street with his wife and family, in order to be among the people with whom he would be sharing the gospel.
Regular Sunday services began at the Charles Norton Centre, Broadwick Street on 9 January 1983 and after a further 4 years of hard work, by God's grace Immanuel Community Church was formally established in January 1987, subsequently with Michael Toogood as Pastor.
In the course of working in Soho, contacts were made with evangelists working for the London City Mission in the Covent Garden area (just to the east of Soho). An invitation was issued to the church at Soho to become involved with church planting work here, and thus the door was opened for the next phase of the work of the London Inreach Project.
On 1 November 1987, the first Sunday gathering took place in Covent Garden following
the formal decision by the London Inreach Project Committee to respond to an invitation
to the Soho church from the London City Mission to get involved with church planting
work in Covent Garden. This work was under the leadership of Brian Maidstone, working
in close cooperation with 2 workers from the London City Mission.
The focus of attention for the London Inreach Project gradually moved from Soho to Covent Garden as the church in Soho became more able to support itself, and on 1 March 1993 the Project appointed Mike Mellor as a full time worker in Covent Garden, still continuing to work closely with the London City Mission. In 1996 Allan Clare was appointed by the Project, with help from the London City Mission, as a helper for Mike.
By God's gracious provision, a freehold property was bought by the Project in 1995 to enable Mike and Gwen Mellor and their family to live right in the heart of Covent Garden. The work has continued under God to be a help to many residents of the Garden and is gradually gaining strength. On May 11th 1997 Covent Garden Evangelical Church was formally established, meeting on Sundays at the Covent Garden Community Centre in Odhams Walk.
Only the Lord knows what lies in store for the future work of the London Inreach Project,
once the objective of overseeing the establishment of the church in Covent Garden is
achieved. There are many who still have a burden for the planting of Reformed Baptist
churches in inner London, and there are certainly many areas in need of such a work and
witness. May the Lord guide his people into his will for the coming days.
The on-line version of the Bulletin of the London Inreach Project is now available - just click here!
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