Started in 2010, Churches Together London provides a discussion forum for sharing ideas and experiences about helping in London's neighbourhoods. We believe that churches are making a positive difference in our community, and that by listening and collaborating we can help good things happen in London. We've had 10 great meetings, attended by over 500 people in total, sharing ideas and building Christian community. Check out our photos and meeting minutes, and sign up for notices about upcoming events.

Adding Value in St Thomas

by Rob Hueniken on April 28, 2016

We are blessed at Destination churchAdding value is a key requirement in business, and the corner stone for Destination Church in St Thomas. Started in January 2011, Destination has grown from 17 people in a rented storefront to a respected “spoke in the wheel” for the city of St Thomas. Led by pastor Beth Fellinger, an Alpha course in a local restaurant has spun into a spacious and welcoming venue at the corner of Talbot Street and Ross.

As their “We are blessed” attitude proves, relationships are the strength of community, both within the church, and beyond. Right from the start, they have actively listened to what St Thomas needs in a church and as a valued partner with both city and service organizations. Looking past the tendency of churches to duplicate services, the leaders of Destination church are finding ways to add value to their city, and to do it with excellence and integrity.



Karen and her husband help out at Destination Church, and bring
artistry to the hospitality.

The windows give beautiful
light to Destination church.

One of the weekly community activities at Destination church is Stone Soup, named after the shared contribution story by the same name. Thanks to its professional-grade kitchen (added by the venue’s former restaurant owner), the volunteers at Destination are able to create large and delicious meals.

There is lots of seating, and the round tables are an encouragement for conversations and getting to know each other. The round tables are also used for the coffee time and the service on Sunday morning, which is helped by the clever placement of large TVs. At Destination the experience and focus is wide and inclusive.

helping-with-the-food stone-soup-on-thursday

On a recent “Go-See” visit to Destination, Londoners got to learn about the church and participate in the Stone Soup evening. Members of Churches Together London, and conference-goers to the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), recognize and encourage the community involvement and Christian walk happening here.


Pastor Beth Fellinger (on the right) shared
the amazing real estate story of how they
came to finally own this beautiful venue.

Christians Against Poverty

Christians Against
Poverty works with
Destination to help
people get a handle
on their finances,
and to build a solid


This spacious church has lots of room for
special purposes, including a quiet place
for family, and break-out rooms for
discussions and youth.

When I visited Destination I felt very welcome, and was soon happily in conversation. Their Vision Statement includes this poignant line: We link arms with anyone who tells the story of Jesus. Just that one part of their philosophy brought value to my day at Destination.

vision-statement-for-destination rob-and-sharon-at-destination


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A desire to help in our communities

by Rob Hueniken on January 19, 2016

Each year the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) holds a major conference, attended by 3,000 people from across the world. For the latest conference, 16 Londoners traveled to Memphis to experience and share new ways to help in our communities. The group got together at the Navigators’ office recently to talk about the CCDA conference, and to share how it has affected and influenced them.

CCDA discussionJulie Young-Marcellin has attended 3 CCDA conferences, which changed her life-focus to include mentorship.


Julie Young-Marcellin has been to 3 CCDA conferences so far, and likes their deliberate focus on community issues and shared values. Julie is finishing up her PhD at Western University, and uses her speaking and organizational skills to develop awareness and solutions for community support, including for Opportunity International. She has seen, first hand, the need to recognize and value diversity — including for women and persons of colour — and to give voice to those experiences and needs. She feels that the CCDA conferences and community message are so strong that non-Christians can benefit from attending, and wonders how we can bring something similar to London.

Maggie, Carole and Sue
Maggie Harsanyi, Carole Verdun and Sue Huson enjoying the snacks that Beth Fellinger brought from St Thomas.


Maggie Harsanyi is a nurse. She went to her first CCDA conference 5 years ago in Chicago and “got totally hooked” by the atmosphere of helping in community. “It is the most inspiring week of my year,” says Maggie. “It is not just talk: you see people humbly doing amazing work.” For Maggie it is very important for people to preserve honour, respect and dignity.

Carole Verdun is the director of Connections and Local Outreach at West Park church. She is passionate about helping families who have young people with special needs build relationships and connections in the community. She said her first time at CCDA was fabulous, with lots of great people and ideas. Carole is collaborating with Dennis Funk on the Northwest church-community initiative and the NW Resource Centre, both of which are advancing and rethinking the role of churches in London.

Sue Huson attends Village Green Community Church, which is very active in the Southwest neighbourhoods. It was her first time at CCDA, and found it “thrilling to be in a room with 3,000 people with a passion for neighbourhoods”. Over Christmas, Sue helped with the Christmas Joy Store, which provided clothing and toys using the new approach of having people pay for the goods rather than being given them. She was told by the immigrant settlement workers that the men particularly appreciated being able to keep their pride in providing for their family. Sue is also organizing a tutoring program at Village Green, and as a former teacher feels education is vitally important.

Dan, Michael, Beth and David
Dan Schaefer helps at North Park’s Life Resource Centre.


Dan Schaefer volunteers alongside Tendayi Gwaradzimba at North Park, and helps at the Life Resource Centre. His work with rental properties has encouraged him to explore ways to provide employment for people living in poverty. He found his first visit to CCDA to be very inspiring.

Michael GoodmurphyMichael Goodmurphy is a long-time community volunteer, who has helped at the Life Resource Centre, chaired the human services area at Fanshawe College, and worked with the Carling-Thames Family Centre. He sees the importance of looking at the basic needs of families living in poverty here in London. On his third visit to CCDA he learned about the amazing Oasis of Hope organization in Memphis. “They make it clear that they care and want to get to know you and your family. There is a very high emphasis on relationships.” Michael likes how the city there let Oasis use a public centre free of charge, and acknowledges the value of faith-based partners in raising social and economic standards.

David CottrillAs the Director of Community Outreach at North Park, David Cottrill is a dedicated advocate for under-resourced communities, helping newcomers to London and those with economic and social challenges. He and his family have recently taken in 2 Syrian refugees, and are helping them adapt to life in London and to learn English. A major feature of the CCDA conferences are the “Go See” experiences, which provide real-life insights into the motivations and methods of successful community outreach organizations. “Go Sees” are very inspiring, says David. “You see how things run, and get ideas for how to implement similar ideas here in London.” David has lead various community walk-throughs in the past, to help raise awareness and understanding of the real people and issues of neighbourhoods. “They show how important it is to engage with the community and to build relationships.” He has seen positive results when churches and municipal groups partner, and the successes that happen when churches find alternatives to trying to do it all on their own. Said David: “There are new ways to give God opportunities to work in us.”

Beth FellingerBeth Fellinger is the Pastor at Destination Church in St Thomas, whose tagline is “a ragtag collection of surrendered and transformed people who love God and others.” Spending any time with Beth will show you how caring she is, and how committed she is to adding value within community. “My brain has really not stopped since I went to the CCDA conference,” says Beth. Destination Church is a hotbed of community partnerships, including with the YMCA and the St Thomas Food Works, a welcoming space for people to grow, cook and share good food. Every Thursday evening Destination has a Stone Soup dinner, in which people bring one ingredient and make a meal together. They have also introduced the Christians Against Poverty program, which is helping people out of personal debt through over 120 churches in Canada.

CCDA has learned about Beth’s church and has invited her to put on a workshop at the coming CCDA Conference, to be held in LA starting August 31st. Way to go, Beth!

The London group was very inspired by Beth’s activities, and accepted her offer to visit her church this spring, most likely on a Thursday afternoon for Stone Soup. Churches Together London will be organizing this, and posting the plan in the near future — our own Go See! As Julie Young-Marcellin said: “There can be new ways to partner, and a great starting point is to invite each other to visit our organizations.”

Leslie Damude

Leslie Damude has been to previous CCDA conferences, and has encouraged many people to learn from good examples of community development, wherever they are found. As one of the founders of Churches Together London, Leslie is a determined advocate and connector for churches helping together in neighbourhoods. At Gateway Church, Leslie is part of the long-term GPS program, which is guided by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Dennis FunkDennis Funk organized the meeting, which was held at the Navigators‘ office in Arva. Dennis heads the Resource book store there, and is very up to date on the latest books about community and neighbouring. At the meeting he referenced “The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community“. He said it is important for churches to have a faithful presence in the community over a long period of time. Our society, he says, has a tendency to lose the feeling of “place” because we rarely see our neighbours. “We need to relearn how to be best at building relationships in our neighbourhoods.” At CCDA he was struck by the Shalom Zones in Memphis, where churches decided it was better to work together, and to build relationships based on trust. “They saw the needs in their city and purposed together. We can see similar needs here in London”, says Dennis.

Dennis summarized the meeting well by saying “The main thing is to influence the people around us, and to highlight for them the joy of Christian community development.”

CCDA group photo 2016-Jan-11
The CCDA travelers include Dennis Funk, David Cottrill, Beth Fellinger, Maggie Harsanyi, Sue Huson, Julie Young-Marcellin, Leslie Damude, Carole Verdun, Dan Schaefer, and Michael Goodmurphy.







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Northwest Churches are working together

by Rob Hueniken on December 11, 2015

Three of London’s churches in the northwest are working together to create a shared community and to help in the area. Beginning in the spring of 2014, churches there began coming together to establish an active relationship that is focused on working together and building unity. The results have been very positive, and good things are getting done together.

3 pastors from the NW got together to shoot an encouraging video
Seated are pastors Jude St. John (WLA),
Rick Boyes (Gateway) and Charles Stone (West Park).

In August of 2015, the senior pastors of West London Alliance, West Park, and Gateway gathered to pray and brainstorm ways to move forward together. The resulting plan included:

  • Creating a video that affirms the group’s unity, including with the residents of the area.
  • Presenting the video at each church on Sunday, November 15th.
  • Creating a prayer card that asks church attenders to pray for each church, and for our shared community.

The participation has been growing, with lots of excitement and interest at each of the churches.

In October of 2015, there were 6 townhouse fires in the Limberlost area. The three churches — who were already involved in this area — were now even more able to respond. Working with the North West London Resource Centre (NWLRC, located in the Sherwood Forest Mall) the churches have been able to serve these families and to help rebuild lives.

These northwest churches are continuing their efforts, and will meet again in January to map out their next steps for working together.

Here at Churches Together London we applaud these good, shared efforts, and encourage all churches to reach out to other churches in their neighbourhoods.

[Thanks to Dennis Funk at the Navigators of Canada for providing this article, and for helping to establish this northwest success story.]

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On Saturday, March 7th 70 people came out to the Churches Together London event held at West Park Church in London. It was a great morning of exploring and discussing the wave of relational neighbouring that is changing churches across North America.

Dave Witt speaking at Churches Together London

Rob Hueniken welcomed the guests, and referenced Together LA, an organization in California much like Churches Together London and True City, whose purpose statement reads very similarly: ” To transform the conditions of those living on the margins, to live missionally within community, and to develop cross-cultural and multi-church relationships”.

Steph Card warmed up the group and got them thinking with her paper clip exercise. There are a lot of things you can use a paper clip for, and in 30 seconds many people thought of 2 to 4 things. But together, as a group, there were 77 things – showing the strength of inclusiveness and community.

Steph Card and the paper clip exercise

Dave Witt, from True City Hamilton, was the keynote speaker, and shared stories and encouragement from his 11 years of experience. He referenced Nehemiah 3 and the rebuilding of the wall, in which each person – regardless of status or position or job – was helping to make things better together. Dave encouraged us to really know our neighbourhood, and to recognize the importance and potential we have by being relationally present.

Graham Buchanan speaking at West Park

Our second speaker was Graham Buchanan of West Park Alliance in London. His work with youth and as the Community Connections leader has helped bring a strong new sense of community involvement, both within the church walls and especially outside – within the neighbourhood. When Graham said that he starts each morning with a prayer for the neighbourhood you could see people pause and then nod in recognition of having that mindset.

Lots of group discussions

As with all Churches Together London meetings, there were times for discussion and sharing ideas. It is great seeing and hearing so many people talking about neighbouring and the roles and challenges for churches.

Panel discussion at Churches Together London

We wrapped up our morning with an excellent panel discussion, including Jay Gurnett of Vision Ministries, Sue Gowan of Youth for Christ and CCNL, Graham Buchanan from West London Alliance, and Dave Witt of True City Hamilton. David Cottrill of North Park posed questions to the panel, and there was also a time for questions from the attendees.

Jay Gurnett said that people want to do something meaningful, and that often translates into doing something good in their community. He encouraged us to get out of our comfort zone, to take the risk of getting involved and to work together.

Sue Gowan described her various roles as a Board member as being more hands-on than people often think. She reminded us that churches, traditionally and historically, have played vital roles in society and within community, and that we should be recreating that history daily.

Graham Buchanan talked about getting involved in community using the analogy of marrying his wife. He didn’t propose to her on day one – he got to know her, to understand what is important to her, and earned her trust. Relationships take time and effort to build, but great things come from them.

Dave Witt said that the community would love for church members to be engaged, but we need to recognize that only some of the people in a church have those gifts. The idea is to also use the many other gifts in a church so that everyone can be involved. One of the beauties of collaboration is that we don’t each have to do everything. And one of the beauties of neighbouring is that even a bit of participation can be good, so even small churches can get involved in their community.

Thanks to all of the attendees for making it such a great morning of fellowship and sharing. And thanks to Carole Verdun and West Park Church for providing such a beautiful space for us to explore and discuss being part of community.

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Come hear Dave Witt on March 7th

January 30, 2015

We are looking forward to an amazing morning together, hearing insights about True City Hamilton.  Dave Witt spoke at our first Churches Together London meeting, and we are excited to welcome him back. Special link: Click here to read the Faith Today article on how True City Hamilton is “turning Steel City around.” We’ll also […]

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Noel Castellanos talks about Community Development

March 4, 2014

  Noel Castellanos leaned into a great presentation at North Park on March 1st, delivering a very personal and engaging overview of Christian community development. He reminded us that we are called to care about the widow, the orphan and the stranger. We don’t want people living in the margins of society to feel left […]

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We’re excited to hear Noel Castellanos on March 1st

February 11, 2014

Christians are called to be salt and light and to bring transformation to our society. The Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) has years of experience with an effective model for “helping without hurting” people in need. For church leaders and fans of community development, getting to hear Noel Castellanos in their own city is fantastic! March […]

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North Park has 2 Conferences to attend

January 14, 2014

North Park is pulling out the stops with 2 conference dates this winter: February 1st and March 1st. The team at Churches Together London is looking forward to participating, and encourages you to attend one or both of these days. Registration direct link   Global Outreach Conference On Saturday, February 1st, North Park has the […]

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We shared a lot at our November meeting!

December 12, 2013

Group discussions were the centre piece of our latest meeting, with lots of great sharing of ideas, challenges and opportunities. Hosted in the beautiful atrium at the Talbot Street Church, Steph Card lead us in an exploration of key needs in our neighbourhoods. We had great participation in the discussions about community, including with Deb […]

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Here comes our November 30th meeting!

October 10, 2013

Churches Together London is putting together another meeting on Saturday, November 30th, 2013, from 9:30 until 11:00 am.  We'll be at the Talbot Street Church, 513 Talbot Street. We'll be focusing on connections, with opportunities to meet people with shared interests, challenges and communities. We'll also hear about the strategies and successes from this summer's CCDA […]

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