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Church, Brixton, London
© R.Sones and used under license
Church, Brixton, London.
Independent, linked to the Newfrontiers
family of churches.
Having moved around a little, the church currently meets in
the café of Lambeth College. Its humble modern glass and blue
panelled appearance is in stark contrast to the grand Roman
Catholic church next door. This makes it very easy to miss for
the casual passer-by. Though it is not well signposted, just
follow the sound of the music as soon as you walk in the door.
Beacon Church was set up in 2007 as a daughter church of Kings
Church in Catford. They are also part of Brixton Churches
Together and contribute to the local food bank. They sponsor
an Alpha course as well as a variety of spiritual and social
Brixton is one of the liveliest areas in London. Situated
at the southern end of the Victoria line and serviced by a
number of bus routes, it’s very easy to get to. The area had
a bit of a bad reputation based on past troubles, but that
is being dispelled. Brixton is now considered quite fashionable,
with rising property prices to match. There’s always something
going on there; just walking down the road, I passed a nightclub
that was turning people out at 10.00am on a Sunday morning!
There wasn’t much information given, even when I asked. Though
I did catch that the preacher was Dan Frammingham. The pastor
and elders were away on the day I visited.
The date & time:
Sunday, 22 September 2013, 10.30am.
What was the name of
How full was the building?
The café was fairly full and extra chairs had to be pulled
out. At a quick count, I think there were about 50-60 people
in total, though this dropped when the children went out for
Did anyone welcome you
Yes. There was a small welcoming team who all had their names
on lanyards. I was given a couple of very professional-looking
leaflets and introduced to some of the congregation.
Was your pew comfortable?
We had standard college café chairs, which are cheap medium-density
fibreboard on metal legs. They were more comfortable than
a standard pew, but not exactly plush.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Very friendly. They serve breakfast up to the start of service,
so I had a cup of coffee and a chat with some people. There
were also crumpets and croissants on offer. The early birds
here don’t so much catch the worm as catch the pain au
chocolat. The only interruption was the worship band
practicing, which occasionally got so loud you couldn't hear
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"Good morning all. We welcome you here to Beacon Church."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
There were no books. All the songs were on screen, as were
most of the scriptures used. The New International version
of the Bible appeared on screen, though the preacher read
from a different translation, possibly the New King James,
though I’m not certain about that.
What musical instruments
Keyboard, a rather impressive-looking nine-string bass guitar,
Did anything distract
Being in a college café, there were lots of things stuck on
notice boards and walls that one could read and look at. Nearest
my eye-line was a picture of a rather tasty-looking trifle.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Modern and meditative. There was nothing particularly happy-clappy
here, but rather modern hymns. It was actually a lot more
peaceful than the pre-service warm-up led me to expect. There
were also impromptu prayers of praise from a few members of
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
9 Dan Frammingham had clearly researched his material
well. He presented it in a down-to-earth manner, sparingly
using visual aids to good effect. He was also refreshingly
honest about his own regrets and mistakes.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
What it means to be a new creation. His text was 2 Corinthians
5:11-21 (the message of reconciliation), especially verse
17 ("Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation
has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"). He used
a pair of coats to illustrate what Martin Luther called the
"great exchange": Christ "has emptied himself
of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill
us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he
might deliver us from them."
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
As part of a promotion for a forthcoming Alpha course, which
was being run by a number of churches in Brixton, one lady
gave her testimony of how she ended up going ten years earlier
as part of dare from her friends, in spite of thinking that
it was a reading course for adults. It was a great encouragement
to hear how God uses the most unlikely of people.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The songs on the projector were littered with spelling and
punctuation mistakes. Initially, it wasn’t lined up correctly
either, cutting off the right hand edge of some lines, which
resulted in one line being altered from "Praise your
name" to "Praise your nan."
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people came up to me and say hello. We had coffee
and biscuits and chatted for quite some time. Topics varied
from the benefits of living alone vs sharing a house, the
history of the local cinema, and reasons why we weren't Anglicans.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
It was largely help yourself,
though a member of the welcome team poured me a drink. It
was fairly low-budget instant coffee, served in polystyrene
cups, a slightly tasteless combination. This was made up for
by a decent selection of biscuits, including the shortbread
finger I had.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
8 Though the leaders were all away, there was a great
mix of worship and teaching, in a very informal, relaxed atmosphere.
The only thing that put me off was one person I spoke to afterwards
trying to "sell" it to me, which never has the intended
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. It was marvellously welcoming, and not meeting in a traditional
church building often helps those who are less comfortable
about walking into a church. If I were a regular here, I would
be happy to invite non-Christian friends along.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Probably the very stimulating conversations that took place
at the end of the service.
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