London's huge mission acknowledged as a big success though 'superchurches' criticised.

BRITAIN'S BIGGEST ever Christian mission, Soul In The City was hailed a resounding success by its organisers. The fortnight-long mission, run from 26th July to 6th August and spearheaded by the Soul Survivor youth movement, received praise from the Metropolitan police commissioner Sir John Stevens and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Across the capital young people from as far afield as Argentina worked on a wide range of community-based and urban regeneration projects. Alongside that, evangelist J John spoke at a series of services at St Paul's Cathedral. Numerous Christian musicians played throughout the mission including worship leader Tim Hughes, rap team The Tribe, and dance group Meeker. Most of the delegates lived in three "tent cities" situated in Chingford, Mottingham and Uxbridge.

Soul in the City's associate director Matt Bird said: "the challenges to get this going have been many: raising £3m developing trust with the government, the police and other authorities getting 10,000 young people to London getting 800 churches on board. It's all been a big challenge - but a very exciting one." Matt's sentiments were echoed by Bishop Graham Cray, chairman of the Soul Survivor board of trustees. "I've seen partnerships between churches in areas that they haven't always been there," he said, "I've seen partnerships between majority white and majority black churches, to a degree I haven't seen for a awfully long time. And I've seen quite a lot of young people come to know Jesus for the first time. And that thrills me more than anything else."

Criticism was levelled at the numerous London churches which did not participate in the mission. In his column in Christian Herald newspaper, Rob Frost, director of Share Jesus International, lashed most liberal churches and some conservative evangelical churches for their failure to support Soul in the City. His most stinging criticism though was aimed at the large-membership 'superchurches' who didn't support the mission. Said Frost, "five of the largest churches in our area are having nothing to do with London's biggest mission in living memory! The e-mails of resignation make painful reading, "our church's summer programme is such that we have no spare capacity" "our policy is to work on our own strategies of mission and [we] find it difficult to work with other churches locally" "our leaders are on holiday" "our church is at camp" "our building is being redecorated". Shame on you! I say. Here is an opportunity to go the extra mile, to support weaker churches nearby, to engage in mission with other you rarely speak to, to use your plush premises and big bank accounts to support something further than the work in your own back yard." CR

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