Willesden Adventist Church Awarded Centre of Influence

Willesden Adventist Church Awarded Centre of Influence

Sharon Platt-McDonald & BUC Communications

Sabbath 4 March marked a milestone for the Willesden Seventh-day Adventist church as the British Union Conference (BUC) recognised and awarded them a 'Centre of Influence' status.

With a membership of 670, over half of them are active members volunteering in the varied outreach services of the church. The impact of this Total Membership Involvement is far-reaching and has enabled the church to run multiple services catering for various members and community needs. They open the church daily to give access to the public to its ten outreach ministry areas:

  • Centre of Help and Hope
  • Foodbank
  • Clothes bank
  • Steps Up Education and Empowerment programme
  • Daily Community Kitchen
  • Weekly Golden Age Club
  • Bi-weekly United Drop-in Centre
  • Weekly winter night shelter
  • Barber service
  • Partnership with local Community Action Team

Reflections on Award

Speaking with Sis Norma Elaine Whyte, Manager for the Centre of Help and Hope (CHH), she expresses her delight for the Centre of Influence status. She gushed:

"What a privilege and an honour for Willesden church to gratefully receive, from the BUC, a certificated recognition of excellence with its inauguration as a Centre of Influence

"This achievement has been shaped by the strengths of the foundations set by the Community Ministries Department, as a result of the BUC's Power of 37,000 initiative, in October 2016, from which the Centre of Help and Hope was conceived."

Reflecting on the centre's inception, Norma further explains:

"Who would have thought this would have been the result when the CHH opened its doors to the community on Tuesday, 11 October 2016, six years later? Of course, this would not have been possible without the support of our dedicated team of volunteers, church members and sponsors such as The Felix Project, City Harvest and Tesco. Additionally, significant recognition and financial support from the London Borough of Brent above £30,000.00 for the centre is noteworthy. This assisted in providing food aid for our service users and facilitating our Steps Up community education and empowerment initiatives. To God be the glory. Great things He has done."

Outreach Testimonials

Several human-interest stories have emerged from the various ministries run by the church. We share a few here with you:

United Drop-in Centre

It began as Dr Mario Phillip, the Willesden church's pastor, and the varied ministry volunteers dropped off their outreach leaflets to the surrounding businesses. One employee picked up the brochure advertising the church's United Drop-in Centre left at his place of work. He asked his manager for permission to attend the centre. On arrival, he was welcomed by the clinician providing health checks, who subsequently undertook his health screening. Due to the readings that became evident, the clinicians referred him to his GP for urgent follow-up and further tests. This situation was later escalated, and a specialist referral was made. Had he not visited the centre, he would not have realised his wellbeing was in jeopardy.

Golden Age Club

Penelope Thompson (affectionately called Penny) has led the Golden Age Club from its establishment to today. I spoke with her about some of the highlights over the years. Here is her story:

"The Golden Age Club (GAC) began in 1989 by myself when I became a member of Willesden church. I was a qualified generic social worker and saw that nothing in the church was meeting the holistic needs of seniors/older members outside of being members of the senior choir. As such, this GAC came into being and would provide them with psychological, social, physical and spiritual support for wholesome living to enhance their holistic wellbeing. It has helped to prevent the isolation that can lead to forms of ill health and challenging life issues.

"The formulation of the GAC, which was aptly named, began in the upper room of the church (Community Services room). Although referring to the 'golden years', the GAC welcome and include everyone, including catering for those with disability of any sort. We are open and inclusive and have had several residents from the community in attendance. Our inclusive action reflects our ethos. We praise God for the positive impact this has had."

Speaking of the specific support and management of the club, Sis Penny gives credit to a valued co-worker Brother Dennis Murray. She states: "Thanks and commendation to Brother Dennis Murray. We have worked together at the GAC for many years. He is also the cook, steadfast, dependable, and reliable."

Further outlining the broader support from external members, Sis Penny explains:

"The GAC members are supported by their children, grandchildren and family, who ensure they attend the club. The GAC members themselves realise how essential this service has become for them. On occasions where situations arose that attendees could not access the club for whatever reason, I take responsibility to liaise with them, their carer or family, to keep the line of a continuum going."

I was intrigued to ascertain the age range of the club attendees and thrilled to learn of the most senior members. I was made aware of Sister I Stoddart, who attended the inception of the GAC and will be 100 years old this August 2023. She is now no longer able to participate.

Brother U Esson is now the oldest GAC member at the age of 98 years and currently attends regularly, fully participating in all the activities.

I enquired about the scope of what is provided at the club. Sis Penny lists the following:

  • Provides spiritual nurture
  • Friendship group
  • Physical exercises
  • 3-course lunch & elevenses
  • Confidentiality
  • Caring atmosphere & support
  • Honour birthdays and anniversaries
  • Undertake talk therapy
  • Reminiscing moments
  • Psychological and emotional support
  • Knitting, arts & crafts, sewing, needlework.
  • Games – e.g. card games, dominoes.
  • Three day trips and outings annually to various seaside and other historical and educational places

We continue to pray for the impact and reach of the Willesden Adventist Centre of Influence as lives are transformed, and God's name is glorified.