It all started early one Saturday morning in early Spring 2012 as I made my way “south of the river”, walking across the Battersea Bridge on my way to a Choral Workshop at St. Mary’s of Battersea. The beautiful church steeple was my guide along the well-developed riverside walk.
After “church shopping” over the prior year, I placed a lunch-break call to Warren inviting him to come over to see this hidden gem – the church, plus the town square and the gorgeous river views. Warren met me at the church later that day, we walked around the church sanctuary reading all the plaques, memorials and learning the history of each stained glass window. What struck us most, however, was the initial feeling as we walked in the church door – a very warm ambience. Would the people of St. Mary’s match this feeling that they seemed to have created? Only one-way to find out, so we jumped in with both feet.
Spotting a sign outside the church announcing an Alpha Course, Warren signed up to meet and experience St. Mary’s through the introduction of the basics of Christianity. He walked every Monday evening to the church and we occasionally attended Sunday services, where each time we walked through the doors of St. Mary’s we were greeted with warm smiles and name recognition. By June of 2012, we decided to search for a flat to rent in Battersea; we had found our church home.
The reason we initially moved to London was because I had been accepted into a post grad program for Marimba Performance at The Royal College of Music. It was quite an honor to be invited to attend the RCM, especially since I was the token “mature” student. With a prior Masters Degree in Music Education and Percussion Performance, I had only recently returned to playing the marimba after a 20-year pause to raise a family and work full-time in the corporate world.
We moved to Battersea in August of 2012 and began attending St. Mary’s on a regular basis. Warren volunteered to help facilitate the Alpha Course and I offered to perform in the church service. Through the Alpha Course Warren’s faith deepened and he so enjoyed sharing with the Alpha group each Monday evening. We developed friends through Alpha, through music and just by walking through the front door.
I have always felt that my faith speaks best through music and I so enjoy playing the marimba in the church setting. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to perform in church and in the Summer Concert Series. Warren & I also greatly appreciate the opportunity provided to rehearse in the sanctuary during the summer and over the past few weeks. I will forever cherish the early mornings when I came into the church sanctuary alone – able to have quiet time to pray and play to the Lord.
Warren & I will be moving back to Seattle, Washington soon because my student visa has expired. We do hope to return to Battersea and our family at St. Mary’s in the future. Meantime, thank you for opening your church home and your hearts to us. We had no idea how the Lord would lead us while in London, but He led us to you.
What is a church? Probably the most common answer is, “A church is a building in which Christians meet for worship”. Warren & I believe church is a community of people gathered around love – the love of God and the love for each other. God’s voice spoke to us through the church of St. Mary’s. It is a community of people gathered around love, the love of God and each other.
Remember the nursery rhyme “Here is the church, Here is the steeple, Open the doors, See all the people”? Warren & I have improved the rhyme: “Here is a building, on top there’s a steeple, Open the doors, the church is the people!”
May God bless you and keep you, until we meet again.
Judi & Warren Spencer