Being present - St John the Baptist, Hoxton
Reverend Graham Hunter joined St John the Baptist Church in Hoxton in 2010. Quickly, he began to involve the church in community action and building relationships with other local groups, from schools, to parent and toddler groups, to local businesses. He believes that churches should be committed to “rooting all action in listening”, and these relationships within the community grew as the church discovered more about the needs in the area. Together they focused on activities that would generate hope, build new connections and address local concerns.
The church works with local young people and families, through building a new community playground, being present in schools, and running football clubs. Immanuel first came into contact with the church through football, and because of this relationship, “his faith has grown and he himself has become a leader in the church”. This relationship is just one example of how the church has been present in a young person’s life over many years, and this has resulted in both growth in the church and personal growth for Immanuel.
Hoxton has had issues with drugs and crime, but the church has become known for being “a hub for the community” where “any person can come from all walks of life”. Youth worker David describes the church as a place where people feel safe, and where parents are happy to send their children.
The work that the congregation and leadership at St John's has been doing in Hoxton shows the importance of being present in your local community, listening to their needs and concerns, and persevering with these relationships over the years. As Reverend Graham says, the social outreach and community work they have done “has lent credibility to the claim that God loves Hoxton”, and they have seen people join the church, “not because they were Christians looking for a church to join, but because they wanted to belong to a community, they wanted to belong in a family of people who care about the neighbourhood”.