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Ephesians 4:11-12: And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Psalm 133:1: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!

It is estimated that there are over thirty-three thousand Christian denominations in the United States alone. While most of these would be an off shoot of a denomination there were enough theological and practical differences that people felt they either needed a new version of their parent organization, or an entirely new organization to properly express their faith. This tendency to splinter and fracture makes what is happening between several north west London churches precious.

Gateway, West London Alliance, and West Park churches have been quietly coming together on various parcels of common ground and forging relationship for several years now. This ongoing process was the topic of the last Christian Churches Network of London leadership lunch.

Blair Mercer, lead pastor of Gateway Komoka and former youth pastor of Gateway Church in London hosted the event and described some of London’s former efforts at unity. He spoke of “The Collective,” which was a group of youth pastors who got together for lunches and to pray for each other and their ministries, “The Epicentre” which was the Billy Graham Associations efforts to evangelize and disciple in the London area, and “The Collide,” which was the youth pastors of the three churches getting together. Mercer said they agreed that they were “better together,” but he posed the question to the crowd: Why is working together with other churches important?

Some of the answers the crowd worked through at their tables were classic reasons for unity, such as accomplishing more together than apart, the ability for efforts to gain traction quickly, and mutual respect and peace. One participant said he believes it important for Christian churches to work together is to show unity to the community at large. It was pointed out that there is an assumed unity for Muslim and Jews, but if you ask someone what a Christian is there is no uniform answer.

One area this unity has grown is in worship. Worship pastors Tim Schwindt of Gateway, Jordan Elgie of North Park, and Corey Brown of West Park began to meet, along with others in the city, to pool resources, build relationship, and to accentuate the positives and similarities between them rather than dwelling on the differences. It eventually led to the “We Are Worshipers” event at Forest City Community Church which had over a thousand people show up. Elgie called it a great unifying experience in which the unity was created by lifting up the name of Christ. There will be another “We Are Worshipers” event in May.

Graham Buchanan, Director of Community Connections for West London Alliance church, says that his part in helping to unify the churches was due to his experience at Banting Secondary School where he is a basketball coach. He said that the as the churches had Banting in their neighborhood they were all on campus reaching out to students, but school officials were confused because the churches were there independently. Buchanan and the other churches began to forge relationships to form alliances. He stressed that the goal is not to become another social service in the area, but to spread the gospel of Christ.

Carole Verdun of West Park, who has been an integral part of this forging of relationship, described how they have begun holding a potluck in conjunction with (and at the church building of) Trinity Presbyterian church which is situated in the middle of one of the neighborhoods the churches want to reach. The churches have begun to establish relationship with members of the community and have been able to introduce worship to the events as trust grows.

The Bible has much to say about the relationship between Christian brothers and sisters. It stresses longsuffering, humility, unity, and loving one another throughout the word. While achieving unity in the faith is a difficult and uncertain path these churches are showing that it is possible with a little humility, a little relationship, a little “want to,” and a lot of grace. We pray this unity that started in the North West corner of London spreads throughout the city, and we can worship as one Christian body.