A Tale of Two Churches

A Tale of Two Churches

A FEW weeks back, Lin and I visited the church where I had been christened. We were welcomed, greeted warmly by name and shown around. We were given lots of information about the church and encouraged to keep in touch.

Later that day, we visited the church where we had worshipped through the 1980s. All of our three children were born in the years that we had been members of the church and we were sad to leave it when my work took us to St Albans. Again, we were welcomed and shown around.

Both churches in Brentford, west London, showed the kind of friendly welcome that we would like everyone who comes to St Leonard’s to receive.

But here’s the thing. The church where I was christened - see photograph - is currently being converted into 20 luxury flats. We were given a tour of the show flat after I contacted the developers and explained my connection with the building. The flats range in price from £750,000 to just under £1.5million. The church had closed its doors in 1959, when it was integrated with two other local churches.

Exterior of Brentford churchThe building had been the home of a musical museum from 1963 to 2008, but had been empty since then. An enterprising developer took over the building and has transformed it.

What about the other church? That mission church, sited in a council estate, closed around 10 years ago and is now a Hindu temple. A dwindling group of Christians struggled to keep the church going but, sadly, it had to shut. It was strange to see the Hindu shrine where once we used to pray and worship.

We are fortunate that St Leonard’s is a thriving church, supported by the local community who value its presence. We have a PCC and congregation committed to seeing St Leonard’s remain as a lively place of worship and to grow.

But the visit back to my roots in West London showed me that no church can take its long-term flourishing for granted without deep commitment from all those who care about its future.

Rev Peter Crumpler

This article first appeared in the September 2017 edition of the St Leonard's parish magazine.