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Pastors who serve churches in London lend insights into life there

By Ed Evans

Almost 60 people gathered on Labor Day weekend at Fauntleroy UCC in West Seattle to share English afternoon High Tea with Ana and Tod Gobledale, mission associates with Global Ministries. 

ana and tod gobledale

Tod and Ana Gobledale share at Fauntleroy UCC.

They are serving  two congregations in London, England—St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church Brockley and St. Michael’s New Cross, a small congregation shared with St. James, a local Church of England congregation. St. Michael’s meets in a community center on a housing estate.

They have been serving in London since 2010. 

“Mission associate” is a designation given to a UCC or Disciple person who has been hired by and serves a church, ecumenical institution or project outside the United States in a ministry that is in accordance with the mission principles of Global Ministries.

The hiring church pays salaries of mission associates. Ana and Tod were not sent by Global Ministries, but were selected through the search process of the United Reformed Church of Great Britain, which Ana said strives to have a social witness in a predominantly secular society.

St. Andrew’s is a diverse and global community. On a recent Sunday, 32 countries were identified as countries of origin for worshippers, the majority from the West Indies, mainly Jamaica. Members of the Board of Elders hail from Jamaica, Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi, and some are British born. She said the congregation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence in a big way last year.

It serves Brockley in various ways.  Members recently organized a health fair in the church hall.  The St. Andrew’s Community Centre and Preschool serves as many as 1,000 people each week.  The congregation is active with CitizensUK, an interfaith citizens action group representing unions, schools and faith groups.

Ana and Tod have found expression for their faith through political action events, such as protesting the announced closure of part of the local hospital.  The protest started with about 500 people and swelled to more than 10,000.  A year later, the hospital remained funded and functional. 

Ana was the only Christian minister, to their knowledge, donning a cleric at this year’s London Pride Day parade.

Since their arrival three years ago, the Gobledales have celebrated 120 baptisms and more are lined up for monthly services through next March.

Before being called as co-pastors at St. Andrew’s Church, Ana and Tod served as Global Ministries missionaries in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. They also were interim co-pastors of Kirkland Congregational United Church of Christ east of Seattle.

“Mission in urban London looks different from mission in rural South Africa or Zimbabwe,” said Ana.  “Whether we are in rural Zululand, the plains of Eastern Washington, the heart of London or Seattle, it is our responsibility to hear the cry of God’s people and to witness to God’s presence.”

The Afternoon High Tea was hosted by the Global Ministries Committee, a combined team from the Pacific Northwest Conference UCC and the Northwest Region of The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Tea hosts were the Fellowship Committee of the Fauntleroy United Church of Christ in West Seattle. 

The Gobledales were briefly in the states to attend the ordination to the Christian ministry of their daughter, Thandiwe, on August 25 at First Christian Church in Greensboro, N.C.

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Copyright © September 2013 - Pacific Northwest Conference UCC News


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