First new purpose built Church in London in 40 years opens in Tottenham
St Francis at the Engine Room, the first new purpose-built Anglican church in London in 40 years, opened in Tottenham Hale earlier this month.
The opening of the new St Francis Church building and adjoining Engine Room community centre in Hale Village offers state of the art facilities for a new worshipping community and the wider Tottenham population.
The church provides a modern and flexible space for regular worship, and the community centre hosts a 36-place nursery, a space for community activities and workshops, and a café, Loven Bakery, run by local pizzeria Loven Presents.
The opening of St Francis reflects the Diocese’s approach to the evolving and growing needs of the Capital. For new housing developments like Hale Village, where St Francis is located, the Church can offer a social and a spiritual heart for the community.
As part of its vision for London, the Diocese is aiming to establish 100 new worshipping communities by 2020, alongside partners like London City Mission. Each of these new worshipping communities will be locally-led to best serve the needs of their area, and in some cases, such as with St Francis Church, will emerge alongside new housing estates being built across the capital.
The Rt Revd Rob Wickham, Bishop of Edmonton said: “I am delighted to see that God’s vision for Tottenham has a new face, a fact made possible by years of hard work from the parishioners of St Francis at the Engine Room, London City Mission and a host of partners. St Francis is a shining example of God’s desire for all Londoners to flourish, and one that will inspire many imitators as we continue to love and serve through worship, prayer, listening and play, energised by the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Martina Kwapong, Church Community Worker, St Francis at the Engine Room said: “St Francis at the Engine Room has become a busy place for making friends and exploring each other’s cultures and faith. A vibrant community is growing together here, and we are making a unique contribution to life in Tottenham.
Fr Andrew Williams, Priest Missioner at St Francis at the Engine Room said: “After four years working from our temporary space it is wonderful to move into our permanent home, a community centre and church from which to base our work in the wider community of Tottenham Hale. The response of the local people has been incredible as we have sought to foster relationships and build trust.
“In over 20 years as a priest I have never worked in a place where so many different people and groups are so determined to improve the quality of life for all local residents. St Francis is a young church in every sense, and our task now is to use our new building and facilities to continue to serve God by serving our community.”
St Francis Church in Tottenham Hale will provide a permanent home to the existing congregation who for the last few years have been temporarily based at the old Engine Room community centre in Hale Village.
Founded only in 2013, the congregation at St Francis Church has since grown rapidly and plays a vital role at the heart of Hale Village life through its regular pop-up cafes, activities for young people and other community projects, such as the ReAct performing arts workshop, and annual Hale Village Summer Festival. The Engine Room already has up to 500 people using it each week.
The church congregation reflect the youth and diversity of the local area. Some key figures in the life of St Francis at the Engine Room include:
• Obi Onyido – Obi was brought up in Tottenham, and works at the London Academy of Excellence as a Student Enrichment Coordinator, where he helps to involve pupils in clubs, sports and other activities. Obi has been part of the team at St Francis since the very beginning, and helps to lead on fundraising activities for young people, most recently taking part in a fun run at the Lee Valley Velopark where the St Francis team succeed in raising over £2000. Obi has spoken of how proud he is to have helped make St Francis Church such a vibrant and important part of community life in Hale Village.
• Nailah Daley-Allen – Local artist Nailah Daley-Allen has run an art workshop at the Engine Room since 2014. Nailah believes that her creative family and an interest in art helped to keep her out of trouble as she was growing up, and now she helps the young people of Hale Village to channel their energies into art and creativity. The workshops have gone from strength to strength, building relationships with local makers and craftspeople and reaching ever-increasing numbers of young people. Nailah has found that the workshops help to convince parents that time spent creating is useful and constructive, and that it is possible to make a career of creativity.
The St Francis at the Engine Room project has been made possible through the close partnership established between the Diocese of London, Lee Valley Estates, Newlon Housing Trust, London City Mission and the London Borough of Haringey. Their recognition of the value which a new church and community centre would bring to the young community living in Hale Village is a reflection of the important role which the Church of England plays across the Diocese, and at the heart of many London communities.