46 reasons to be thankful for Christians in Croydon

By - Monday 21st March, 2016

Jonny Rose sings the praises of his fellow believers in Croydon

Grace Vineyard Church, Purley.
Photo author’s own.

Every year since 2012, in advance of Lent, a small green booklet entitled 46 Days of Prayer is circulated in Croydon churches which details a few of the ways in which local churches are working together to serve and bless Croydon and its people.

Apparently in London you’re never more than six feet away from a rat. Well, in Croydon, it seems that you’re never more than six feet away from a Christian doing something to serve the wider community either!

A very public religion

A brief perusal through the booklet shows that Christians in Croydon are involved in a wide variety of activities and ministries for the benefit of the wider community:

Croydon Street Pastors operate around Croydon at school exit time to make sure pupils get to and from school safely – and don’t cause a nuisance. Croydon Club Angels are out every Friday and Saturday until 3AM making sure clubbers are safe and providing flip-flops to revellers that have lost their shoes.

Croydon Refugee Day Centre at West Croydon Baptist provides hot meals, food parcels, and specialist advice to asylum seekers and refugees every Tuesday. The Link at East Croydon United Reformed Church is a weekly drop-in for homeless and vulnerable adults.

Purley Food Hub has provided over 50,000 meals to people in crisis since its inception in January 2013. Ment4 is an ongoing mentoring scheme for troubled youth.

Welcoming chaplaincies with ever-genial chaplains litter the borough and can be found in the Whitgift Centre, in hospitals, and – surprisingly – at Crystal Palace Football Club stadium.

Oasis Acquila Foyer is a Christian housing scheme that provides temporary supported accommodation for 47 homeless young people between the ages 16-25. Similarly, Langley House Trust is a Christian housing project for 43 Croydon ex-offenders which currently ‘boasts’ a 2.6% reconviction rate.

Croydon Churches Floating Shelter is an annual event where for the past ten years, twenty churches and forty volunteers have provided shelter for the homeless from the winter cold, from November until March.

These are but a smattering of all the activities Christians in Croydon are involved in – be they leading or merely participating. Whilst all of them can be neatly listed, merely noting these endeavours does not do justice to the sheer amount of effort, organisation and perseverance needed to make each one happen, day in, day out, every single year.

A cause for thanksgiving

It’s widely-acknowledged that when the public sector money and the charitable donations dry up it’s the faith groups that continue to turn up and do the jobs that nobody wants to do. About 10 million britons get help from a church-based group every year. If you see a queue of homeless people in a town centre at about 6 o’clock in the evening, you can bet that there is a bunch of God-botherers handing out sandwiches at the other end of it. Where there is poverty, physical illness, mental illness, unemployment, the people who see it and respond are disproportionately likely to be Christians; realistically, the social fabric of the country would collapse without them.

That’s not to say that Christians have any kind of unique claim to moral rectitude (by definition, Christians recognise themselves to be “the worst”) or a monopoly on acts of service (they clearly don’t), however, the sheer number of activities that Christians in the borough do should at the very least lead to a pause for thought, if not be a cause for thanksgiving – during Lent, and throughout the rest of the year.

To get a free download of this year’s ‘Transform Croydon’ Lent prayer book, go here.

If you’re interested in investigating a local church this Easter that isn’t too weird or too drab, then join me at Grace Vineyard Church, Purley, Sundays at 10:30am.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • Anne Giles

    How wonderful. I never knew that they offered so much help. I have also heard that Muslims in Croydon do a lot of good work too.

  • http://thefailedatheist.com/ failedatheist

    Great article!

  • Sean Creighton

    Jonny you are right to praise the social action work of local Christian groups, but you also need to recognise the contribution of believers of other faiths.

    As a non-believer I have worked closely over the years with people across many faiths. I have always had deep admiration for the faith motivation behind their social action involvement.

    Quakers in particular have had an enormous impact despite their low numbers from anti-slavery, and founding campaigns such as Child Poverty Action Group. Unitarians played an under acknowledged role in the anti-slavery movement. The different Methodist groups played a leading role in the development of the labour movement, as did a wide range of people who identified themselves as Christian Socialists.

    One of the downsides of faith action is the division into and rivalry between different groups, The Methodist splits from the death of the founder John Wesley were largely about differences over how democratic governance should operate.

    Since the 1950s the Black churches played an important role in providing an anchor in a racist environment, where many Christian congregations did not welcome the newcomers from the West Indies.

    Mosques etc also play that role.

    Then there are the ideological differences that are particularly tearing the Anglican Church apart: over sexuality and women clergy, and the way in which Muslims and Jews have treated women differently from men. There are too many religious groups that have deep prejudices that limit their effectiveness in working in the multi-faith and diverse neighbourhoods we have in Croydon.

    Fear towards their religion and culture can force adherents of minorities such as Moslems into being inward looking and detach themselves from being partners in social action. Inter-faith working can help to over this.

    Inter-faith activity needs to be undertaken at Borough wide level but also at neighbourhood level.

    We are not an integrated multi-cultural and faith society. We are a society of people who live in silos fearful of a wide range of others whether it is people of different faiths, from different parts of the world, different life-styles, different socio-economic groups,

    For ten years or more Governments have fuelled prejudice against lone parents, people on benefits, disabled people, immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. How many people who profess themselves to be Christians have supported the political decisions of Governments to victimise the people at the bottom of society?

    Charitable activity is important but it only alleviates some of the worst effects, it does not solve the problems. Many Christians who support charity often do not ask the question WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR SUCH ACTION? WHAT CAN BE DONE TO RECTIFY THE CAUSES?

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      Hi Sean,

      I fully take on board your point about including other faiths (and those of none). Please re-read the last and penultimate paragraph.

      To your point: “Many Christians who support charity often do not ask the question WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR SUCH ACTION? WHAT CAN BE DONE TO RECTIFY THE CAUSES?”; I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest I know the inner-most thoughts of every Christian, but what I will say is that both present-day Britain and history is *replete* with examples of Christians taking on huge, structural challenges – whilst also being on the ground ‘point’ solutions as reflected in my piece above. Whether they are successful – or even going about it the right way – may be up for debate, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest they don’t think about the wider structural causes.

  • Romans10

    It is thoroughly worrying that the proclamation of the gospel isn’t mentioned once in this article, you could write one simply replacing the word “Christians” with “secular humanists”.
    As for “a cause for thanksgiving”, to whom should thanks be directed for the non Christian reader?

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      Hi Romans10,

      I think that’s a really fair criticism – and one I thought (worried) about myself as I wrote this.

      By way of restitution, I hope you (and other readers) will enjoy this full gospel presentation explaining the sinfulness of Man, the wonder of substitutionary atonement, the reality of Hell and the supremacy of Christ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KLYI5yUXXc

      • Romans10

        Excellent! Thanks Jonny

      • Anne Giles

        This man is not speaking the truth. He says there is one God. There isn’t. We have Allah and the Gods from other faiths – Hindu, etc.

        • Romans10

          Did you engage your brain before making that comment Anne? Driscoll, rightly, is making the biblical claim that there is one True God, who made himself incarnate in Jesus.
          You simply stating the that other religions make similar claims DOES not make Driscoll’s (better yet, the bible’s) claim false.

          • Anne Giles

            Ha! Ha!

    • http://idioplatform.com/ Jonny Rose

      And regarding to whom one should be thankful – that is indeed a good question to ask the material naturalist.

      As is, why *feel* ‘thankful’ to anything at all – if we are all just random pieces of carbon with no objective value in a purposeless universe. However, those are probably issues to be addressed in another article on another day :)

      • Romans10

        Spot on!

  • Susan Oliver

    An incredible booklet! Beautiful. Thanks for publicizing it.