The small town of Purfleet on Thames sits on the northern edge of the river, next to the Dartford Crossing and at the western edge of the borough of Thurrock There has not been a Baptist witness in the town since ‘Purfleet Baptist Church’ closed its doors more than 15 years ago.
Taken from August 2022 update
Hi, my name is Erica, and I have been living and working in Purfleet-on-Thames for the last year (Sept. 2021-August 2022) as a Missional Listener and Community Chaplain.
It’s been a real privilege to be here and become a part of the community, joining in with what’s already going on, meeting people and building up relationships: doing ’little things with great love’. I arrived with no church and no agenda, simply seeking to listen to the people of Purfleet and to God. I have visited existing groups and organisations (from baby and toddler groups through to coffee mornings for the more mature!) and worshipped in Purfleet churches where possible. I have helped out with events and community initiatives (e.g. litter-picks) organised by various local community groups/organisations, volunteered at the Community Hub and with kids activities, and joined up with the local CVS Community Builder to knock on doors and chat about community facilities. I have also organised and run some one-off events for Love Purfleet: kids’ activities in the school holidays and Wellbeing Walks for all.
Some highlights of the year include:
During this time, I have been listening to individuals and to the wider community, listening to organisations and to Christians already working here, listening to the culture and how its shifting, and listening to God: discerning what God is doing here, and how he is asking Love Purfleet to join in. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to walk every street in Purfleet-on-Thames, praying for every resident.
I have discovered that the community is wonderful: I have been welcomed and shown great kindness here. There is also a wealth of history, and the town’s location on the north of the river Thames means that there are areas of great beauty. But its Docks and location right next to the M25 also means that there are many industrial areas, warehouses, and HGVs! The town has grown rapidly over the last 20-30 years, but the infrastructure is not there to support this. Although there are almost 13,000 residents, there are no supermarkets, no leisure facilities except a couple of bars, few community facilities, and a few small churches.
I have discerned that there is a real need for more community provision alongside an incarnational Christian presence here. I have identified four areas where Love Purfleet could begin something that would be of real benefit to people in this community, and where there would be space for those who are curious about faith to encounter God. The trustees and steering group are now praying through these proposals, discerning which God wants them to start with, and gathering the resources needed to get it started. The biggest resource needed is a new Pioneer Minister and Community Chaplain to live and work here, because my Missional Listening period is ended and, sadly, I have to leave.
So, watch this space! God is already present and active in Purfleet-on-Thames, and He has promised that He is bringing abundant new life and growth to this community. I am excited to see what God will do through the new Chaplain – what great spaces for community and for exploring faith will begin to emerge over the next few years.
I love Purfleet, I can see the potential that is here for Love Purfleet to make a real difference, and I am excited to see what will develop. Will you pray with me for God’s will to be done, and His Kingdom to grow here in Purfleet-on-Thames? Thank you.