The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, this week joined the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the Lieutenant for Westminster and the Mayor of Brent at a special service to mark the 175th anniversary of the opening of St John’s Church at Kensal Green.
Preaching at the service, Bishop Sarah blessed a new art initiative and celebrated the £70,000 received by the church in donations to anniversary projects. One such project – the installation of six new bells in the church tower – has been made possible by a £35,000 donation by Tony Fernandes, the owner of Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club and CEO of Malaysian airline AirAsia.
During the service, Fr David Ackerman, the Vicar of St John’s, presented a gift from the church to Tony’s daughter Stephanie. Tony and his family plan to visit the church later in the year to hear the bells ring. The service also saw a special musical commission – Ring out wild bells – sung for the first time.
Fr David Ackerman, the Vicar of St Johns, said:
“Tony’s donation is particularly special because of the role played by our church in the formation of Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club. In 1882, our first Vicar, the Revd Arthur Pemberton, helped to establish the Christ Church Rangers – the team which would later merge with another local church club to become the Queen’s Park Rangers we know today. This year, we recognised this historic connection with a £1000 donation to the Queen’s Park Gardens Community and Sports Hub, hoping to help inspire the next generation of sportspeople.”
A further anniversary project will see new hedging and trees around the church as part of a major project to protect green space, made possible by contributions from Westminster City Council, TFL, the National Lottery, and the Edward Harvist Trust.
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, the Bishop of London, said:
“St John’s has been at the centre of its community for the past 175 years, and these anniversary projects will help local parishioners, families and pupils to continue to enjoy and thrive in that community for many years to come. It was fantastic to see Joziah Bignall, one of the youngest members of the congregation at St John’s, involved in the special service this weekend. As a church with many young families in its congregation, as well as a playgroup and a school in its grounds, it is particularly pleasing to see the work St John’s is doing this anniversary year to reduce the effect of traffic pollution and protect green space. It is a time to celebrate the faithfulness of the church in the past and present but also to look to the future and what God will do”
St John’s has further plans in store for next year’s 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, alongside exploring a renewable energy project and the expansion of its community activities, including a weekly art project beginning next year.