John 4.34 ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.’
The parish of St Paul’s with St Saviour’s has had a mixed history over the years with people faithfully sowing and reaping. Some seasons have seen the church full with new people joining and the Sunday school brimming with children. At others times people have moved away and the congregation has been in decline. Many people have been coming to St Paul’s for over 20 years. They have been faithfully sowing, faithfully praying, cheerfully welcoming new people.
Sadly St Paul’s was in steady decline from the 1970s up until 2009. Numbers were so low that they did a building swap, in 1980, with the local Seventh Day Adventist Church.
In 2008 Ben Goodyear was invited by the Archdeacon of Lambeth and the PCC of St Paul’s Church to consider a graft, from the Ascension in Balham Hill, to St Paul’s in Brixton. Ben met with the PCC and both congregations prayed about it and decided to go for it.
September 2009 Ben arrived with the graft team of 18 from Ascension to join the existing congregation. St Paul’s 11am congregation has since grown from an average Sunday attendance of 28, to 60, with about 90 adults and 35 children now part of the 11am congregation. In October 2016 we started a Messy Church at the community centre. Our Monthly Messy Church congregation averages 55 each month, with 38 adults and 52 children part of our Messy church congregation.
This is thanks to God, first and foremost, and the willingness of both old and new members to work and pray together in order to love God, love each other and love Brixton.
Vibrant Community Groups are now up and running, each having an upward, inward and outward focus. Many have food, prayer, Bible Study, singing and social events. Some are in the daytime and some are in the evening.
We started a foodbank and a CAP debt centre with other churches.
We have also started a toddlers’ play group in our community centre, based on the Blenheim Gardens Estate.