This initiative began with four local church pastors in the Woodford and Wanstead area of NE London who were working collaboratively for mission. There was a good relationship of trust between leadership teams and churches.
FIEC`s Mission Director, Andy Patterson at the 2014 Leaders Conference, identified a ‘gospel map’ of the UK identifying 50 of the most least reached towns for the gospel. This began to sow the seeds for more ambitious plans.
The four men, two of whom pastored FIEC churches in the Woodford area, subsequently got together to draw their own map to identify where the `gospel gaps` were in their locality. Whilst some areas were fairly well served, others lacked a vibrant gospel centred church. Barkingside and the wider North Ilford area of the London Borough of Redbridge was identified as an area that had changed, become more diverse but lacked a gospel centred church.
Representing Woodford Evangelical, Grace Church Wanstead, Salway Evangelical and Grove Hill Evangelical, the four pastors and their churches began to pray about this situation. They invited Andy Patterson to speak about the practicalities and potential pitfalls but more especially the huge gospel opportunities that a brand new church plant could offer. Andy emphasised the need to first and foremost find a leader to head up the initiative.
As the churches began to regularly pray for the Lord’s will and a clear leading, at the end of 2018 they were introduced to Rick Raja by respected leaders in London. For several years Rick, along with his wife Esther, felt more and more called to multi-cultural church planting in London. The 4 pastors met Rick and Esther, discussed the ‘vision’ behind the plant and walked them through the Barkingside area. Once Rick and Esther were in the frame, the whole initiative moved from being an idea to a real possibility.
The Raja’s existing links with Co-Mission introduced not only practical help putting together and providing a workable budget; at the same time, FIEC’s Church Planting support scheme and with London City Mission’s expertise, the knowledge, skills and experience required to get to a point of launching were in place.
Rick and Esther moved into the area in January 2020 with their family and despite of the pandemic, under God and with the guidance of the four pastors steering group, formed a core team from the four partner churches and established their own eldership. Earlier in 2021 a ‘soft launch’ began with a Sunday gathering and some mid-week ministries to engage the community.
At the end of September 2021, All Nations Church Barkingside & Clayhall was formally launched at an induction & commissioning service in the excellent central venue of Fullwell Cross Library. Rick was commissioned as pastor and praise given to the Lord for bringing all the strands together.
All Nations Church is a great example of churches and organisations working collaboratively together in partnership, giving generously time, resources, pledging finances and people. Our big prayer moving forwards is that this story would serve both as an encouragement and a catalyst for bold new church planting initiatives all through this city as churches work together in partnership and see they can do more together than alone.