Floating church on a barge gets Bishop of Stepney’s ‘Holy Water’ blessing
PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:07 17 September 2018
Parishioners joined faith and civic leaders on a canal barge yesterday to get the Bishop of Stepney’s official blessing for their new community.
Adrian Newman sprinkled Holy Water on the Elsdale II moored at Hackney Wick for the inauguration of St Columba East London church community.
He declared: “The foundation of the community is a clear sign that many here in east London share a vision for a church that is outward looking.”
It was one of his last major public functions before he is due to retire next month, when he met faith and community leaders who turned up for the launch, including Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier.
The new St Columba community is being run by the neighbouring parishes of St Paul’s Old Ford and St Mary of Eton at Hackney Wick.
It is catering for worshippers in Hackney Wick, the Fish Island end of Old Ford and in the emerging Olympic Park developments of Eastwick and Sweetwater.
Old Ford vicar James Hughesdon said: “The new community has the potential to play an enormous role, building on the 125-year presence that St Paul’s and St Mary’s have had in east London.”
But the barge used to launch the community is only a stopgap until a permanent ‘floating church’ commissioned by the Diocese of London is ready next summer.
The £500,000 vessel with its accordion-style roof inspired by the bellows of a church organ, first revealed in the East London Advertiser last summer, will also be up for hire for community programmes, children’s theatre, art exhibitions, business functions and interfaith celebrations.
Olympic Park missioner Dave Pilkington who has started an outreach programme in the new developments, said: “So many changes are happening in Fish Island and Hackney Wick, so it’s important to keep the sense of community and ensure it’s open to others. St Columba will become an important fixture in the area, bringing a connection between people.”
The floating church was aimed at extending the work of the established Anglican parishes in the area to reach the new Olympic Park developments.
Hackney Wick vicar Sue Makin said: “We hope the barge that has inspired the community will be a place where everyone feels welcome aboard.”
The inauguration of Columba East London congregation marks another step towards the Diocese of London’s vision to establish 100 new worshipping communities by 2020.