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From the FIEC Website -  Link for original article

A Witness in Woolwich - Written by Wes McNabb

On Wednesday 22nd May, Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in broad daylight in Woolwich, South East London. Wes McNabb, who leads one of the local FIEC churches, tells us something about the area and its needs.


The day after the recent brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, I was approached to be videoed for a local Christian perspective and response. I was more than happy to do it, but whilst the location of the murder was just over a mile away from my church (The Slade Evangelical in Plumstead), it was only yards away from Woolwich Congregational Church. Aaron Flanagan, a great friend of mine, has been working with Woolwich Congregational for fourteen years, and so it made much more sense to interview Aaron instead. It’s times like these that close gospel partnership is so helpful.



Fourteen years in one of the UK’s toughest locations is an exceptionally long time. During that time their church has seen some remarkable conversions. One baptismal service I attended will especially remain precious to me: On that occasion a few were baptised, but particularly memorable was Hazel; a soldier from the Woolwich barracks, who testified clearly to Christ’s saving grace. She is now employed by a church in another London borough helping addicts.

Recently Aaron has stepped away from being full-time Pastor. He, his wife Margaret and their three sons have started worshipping with us at The Slade while working in a local school, but he still supports Woolwich Congregational in an advisory capacity.

A needy area

Woolwich Congregational is still reaching local people, but over the years it has been very difficult to get Christians to commit to staying in the area. This is partly due to the tough social and economic conditions.

Often when people think of the South East and London they think of an excess of Bible churches. In reality, this densely populated South East corner of London is one of the least evangelised places in the country. Our borough (Greenwich) and neighbouring borough Bexley have the two lowest church attending populations out of all the London boroughs. Some estimates say evangelical church attendance among British born people is less than 0.5%.

Although challenging, SE18 is also an exciting place to be. The population is amongst the most culturally diverse in the whole of the UK and the last few years have seen millions of pounds invested into the area with the arrival of the Docklands Light Railway and the forthcoming Cross Rail Link. Thousands of new properties are being built as well as an increasing military presence, meaning that the dynamics of the area are changing rapidly.

Working together

The Slade has partnered with Woolwich Congregational over the last eleven years and we are very burdened to see a robust gospel work established. The need is for an injection of keen and passionate gospel-hearted people who will move into the area and be part of the work. We as an FIEC church are in discussions with EFCC (the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches, to which Woolwich Congregational are affiliated) to explore how we can further support the church and help them reach their community in new and culturally appropriate ways.

As a family we are in our eleventh year at The Slade and we love it. The gospel opportunities are vast and varied and we struggle to cope with all that God in his goodness is presenting us with. Although a joy, working closely with other local churches can also be a real challenge and dilemma. Our resources are severely limited and yet we cannot afford to leave these hugely populated areas without a clear Christ-centred and grace-filled gospel witness.

In your prayers for the family of Drummer Lee Rigby, please also keep praying for this often overlooked corner of London; that God in his sovereignty would use even the hideous events of last week to build a church as diverse as its community yet united together, firmly established and shining for Christ.

And if you’re moving to London and you are up for the challenge of living and serving in this area, or know of others in that position, we would love to hear from you.

Please pray with us that Woolwich – famous for its army barracks and arsenal that served and resourced our country against enemy attacks – will become a gospel stronghold, proclaiming freedom from sin and escape from Satan’s clutches to God’s Kingdom of eternal saving grace. Our God can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”.

Below is the video interview between Wes and Aaron. Feel free to share the video with your church to encourage prayer for the area.