ST HELIER CENTRE OF MISSION
North Sutton, London
Built as a garden city in the 1920s and 1930s, the St Helier Estate in Sutton is now recognised as having high levels of deprivation, unemployment, single parents, elderly people and people with long-term disabling illness. 31% of all households with children are lone-parent households. Large parts of the parish are amongst the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. The centre of mission’s focus is to bring Christian hope and life to the community.
Rev Tracy Marlow has been appointed as Lead Evangelist and vicar of the parish and will focus on building community and Fresh Expressions. In February 2022, Hayley Humphries and Rachel Marlow were welcomed to the team as Pioneer Evangelists.
Update: October 2022
The newly renamed St Helier Centre of Mission (formerly known as North Sutton CoM) has been reaching out to the St Helier Estate in London since it was launched in April 2021 with the licensing of Tracy as Lead Evangelist. In November she was joined by Hayley and Rachel as joint Pioneer Evangelists. After spending time getting to know the community and listening to their needs, the team have launched an exciting array of activities. These activities are under three streams: Active St Helier, Social St Helier and Spiritual St Helier because the team believe God is calling them to meet people at their point of need and to be the fragrance of Christ amongst them. You can keep up with all they are doing on their Facebook Page
Active St Helier
Mobility and obesity are significant issues amongst people on the estate and so in partnership with Sport England the team have launched weekly Zumba classes. One of the women who attends came along to a service and said to the team, ‘If it wasn’t for Zumba, I would be sitting indoors, crying’. They are also planning a bicycle project in partnership with Community Action Sutton, where bikes recovered by the police will be restored, teaching skills and encouraging cycling for fitness and better mental health.
Social St Helier
Every week the team run two free coffee mornings, where partners from the local council and NHS also attend to give free health and money/benefits advice. After the death of Queen Elizabeth they held a short prayer service after a coffee morning and it was well received so will now happen regularly. The group are also exploring how they might run a bereavement group in conjunction with one of their coffee mornings. St Helier Voices is a newly launched community choir with a choir director employed thanks to a grant from the NHS. This group is a chance for fun, friendship and joy with singing with others being a known way to improve mental health.
Spiritual St Helier
A monthly Messy Church and weekly youth group for 10-14 year-olds are reaching out to children, young people and their families, as well as a monthly addiction recovery group which is exploring faith using The Recovery Bible. A recent Alpha course has also had 20 people take part. God has been working in the lives of people through all these activities and has been drawing them with their friends and family into a new worshipping community. Much to the surprise of the team they have found that this new worshipping community has been gathering on a Sunday Morning in a church building! This has been a great joy as they recently celebrated 14 new believers being baptised or reaffirming baptism vows.
Some quotes from new Christians:
“I have never felt accepted until I came here” – Gary
“St Peters and God has changed us all in some way. The Alpha course opened a new world to us and created a church family bond I didn’t think possible.” – Teresa, who was baptised along with her daughter, her foster daughter and granddaughter.
“I never dreamed I would join the God squad!” – Emma
“I feel like I’ve been born again” – ScottDonate now
Evangelists & Leaders
Tracy Marlow (Lead Evangelist)
Hayley Humphries (Pioneer Evangelist)
Rachel Marlow (Pioneer Evangelist)
Image (left to right): A Church Warden of St Helier, The Archdeacon of Reigate, Tracey Marlow (Lead Evangelist), Rachel Marlow (Pioneer Evangelist), Deputy Mayor of Sutton, Bishop of Croydon, Mayor of Sutton, Hayley Humphires (Pioneer Evangelist), Emma Sivyer (Church Army Regional Development Officer for the South and East of England) and a Church Warden of St Helier.
Diocese of Southwark
The Diocese of Southwark is a rich vibrant mix of Christian witness across South London and East Surrey comprising churches, schools, chaplaincies and missional communities.