Book Review: Faith in the City of London

Faith in the City of London by Niki Gorick published by Unicorn (14th April 2020)

Faith in the City of London, by Niki Gorickshowcases over 200 photographs with well-articulated captions revealing the many different ways spiritual life is celebrated and enhanced in the City. This enlightening publication reveals how the Square Mile is not just a hive of business and finance, dotted with about fifty churches which are simply redundant historical relics. Indeed, St Bride’s Church is featured (we are thanked as a benefactor).

Pictures confirm that regular family services occur in the City. In “Circle of Light” children wait for their candles to be lit at a Resurrection Service on Easter morning at the Dutch Church in Austin Friars, which was founded by Dutch Protestant refugees in 1550. We see children from our Sunday Club enjoying the Easter tradition of egg rolling down Fleet Street at dawn with our Rector, Alison, at the fore!

Egg Rolling in Fleet Street after the Dawn Easter Sunday Service

The Indian Orthodox community holds their three family Sunday services at St Andrew by the Wardrobe. An image reveals the bowed heads of a mother and her young daughter reading their prayer books. We see the beautiful Bevis Marks, the only synagogue in Europe that has held regular services for over 300 years, celebrating a family wedding. The synagogue organises faith based events and services for students and people working in the City.

There are a range of services regularly held in the City by other faith communities. The Sikh business community celebrates weekday prayer within the Bedouin Tent which in set in a courtyard at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. The Centre, built on the site of St Ethelburga’s Church, which was nearly all destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1993, engages in projects promoting social understanding and tolerance and concern for our environment. One of its chaplains, Dave Tomlinson, is the author of How to be a bad Christian! Muslim Friday prayers are held in the livery hall of the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers.

Gorick’s work confirms that the visual and performing arts are showcased in many churches. We see children from the Sir John Cass Schools preparing to play their violins at a Foundation Day service at St Botolph without Aldgate. Another photograph shows the English Chamber Choir rehearsing for a performance at St Andrew by the Wardrobe. A colourful image, thanks to imaginative lighting, depicts an evening of Afghan music with some impromptu dance at St Ethelburga’s.

One may enjoy Shakespearian plays in the surroundings of quite a few churches. Gorick shows a one hour performance at St Mary Abchurch of A Christmas Carol being enacted. Another image reveals an interactive drama project taking place for children at All Hallows by the Tower.

Indeed, all is not quiet at night. Images reveal the City of London Pastors walking the streets offering practical and spiritual support to members of the public who appear vulnerable or in need of assistance.

The book beckons one to attend some of the services and special events. For now, alas, during lockdown, I content myself with private prayer.

Written by Jenny Kingsley

Posted On: Tuesday 23rd June, 2020

congregation sitting for service


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