Ships Ahoy! Floating church moors at the Olympic Park

28 OCT 2020

A bespoke floating church will provide a new place of learning and wellbeing in East London and provide a new worshipping community with a permanent home.

Christened Genesis after the first book of the Bible, the boat is moored on the River Lee Navigation alongside Here East (technology campus) at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where it will remain for three to five years, as a base for St Columbia East, before sailing off to support other canal-side communities.

The Diocese of London’s vision, run in partnership with the churches St Paul Old Ford and St Mary of Eton and ‘kept afloat’ with the help of £10,000 funding from Allchurches Trust, Genesis will help serve growing communities living around the canal in East London, welcoming people of all faiths and none.

As well as providing a venue for Christian worship, the boat will provide a place of learning and well-being, and be available for hire for community development programmes, children’s theatre, art exhibitions, business functions and inter-faith celebrations.

St Columba gathering in the church
The innovative boat was developed in close collaboration with Turks Shipyard and naval architect Tony Tucker, and takes inspiration from church organ bellows!
The Revd Dave Pilkington, who was ordained in June 2019 and served on Genesis’ predecessor, will captain the ship and steer the new worshipping community:
“The sight of Genesis on the banks of the River Lee Navigation is fantastic. With so many changes happening in Hackney Wick and Fish Island, we must constantly seek ways to help build community, so I am pleased to report that St Columba East is a community going from strength to strength. With Genesis now in situ we can look forward to the next phase of growth, now with a space to support our desire for action, reflection and contemplation.  
“St Columba East met for the first time aboard Genesis a few weeks ago and we can all look forward to a time when we, the whole community, can utilise this vessel to its full extent.” 
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, said: “The delivery of the vessel marks the completion of an ambitious four-year project to create a unique resource that will inspire new and creative ministry in communities throughout East London. It is only the beginning for the vessel, Genesis, which starts its journey in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will move along the canals of East London in the years to come, inspiring dynamic religious growth across this diverse and ever-changing city.”
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, added: “Genesis is the perfect example of innovation and creativity, demonstrating that church can take many forms as long as there is a strong community behind it. We’re excited to follow the floating church on its voyage across the canals of East London, and we’re delighted to have contributed towards this inspiring project.”
The Genesis boat lit up at night
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