Church of change

Latchett-C1950Left: Latchett Hall, circa 1950 Right: 'current' Latchett Church

More than 100 people gathered at Latchett Evangelical Church in South Woodford recently to mark the handover of the building to a new congregation. Church elder Tim Smith explains why

Nearly 90 years after Latchett Evangelical Church was founded in Maybank Road, the building has been handed to The Bridge Church, a group which has been worshipping in Woodford and Buckhurst Hill for many years.

Older readers may well remember the original ‘Tin Tab’ in Latchett Road, then known as Latchett Hall. This was bought in 1933 by Dr David Smith to be a place of worship and community action. In 1961 the rebuilding scheme we see today was completed with funds raised entirely by the congregation.

Over the years, the church has had its ebb and flow of growth, and in 2017 the elders decided that, at their age, they could not lead a vibrant, growing church into the 2020s. So, we decided to seek change. We prayerfully decided to manage change before change managed us!   

In 1984 the trustees had put the freehold of the premises into the hands of the Church Growth Trust, a charity committed to ensuring, as far as possible, that churches do not close down and revert to commercial properties, but instead are reinvigorated by new Christian groups.

The trust made enquiries and announced earlier this year that the premises would be leased to The Bridge Church.

So, at the end of September, over 100 friends from the past and present came to a celebratory handover event at the church – over a hog roast. A small jazz ensemble from the well-known All Souls Orchestra added great music to the occasion. The founder of The Bridge, Dr Jeremy Franklin, and Edwin Smith, son of the Latchett founder, were also there to lead the prayers of commitment for the future ministry of the church.

Chris Scott, pastor of The Bridge Church, said: “The Bridge Church started life in South Woodford, just around the corner, so we are excited to be coming home! We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to the local community once again, to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and build on the rich legacy left by Latchett Church.” Local councillor Stephen Adams of Churchfields ward added: “ It’s good to know this is happening, and I’m sure many people will be reached by the future ministry.”

A symbolic giant ‘key’ of the church was handed over to Chris Scott, as well as a relay baton, symbolic of the continuing role of the church.

In the coming months, the name and appearance of the church in Latchett Road may change, but the founding beliefs and community service will continue with renewed vigour.

The premises used to date by Latchett Evangelical Church is located on Latchett Road, South Woodford, E18 1DL. For more information, visit thebridgechurch.org.uk