London City Mission Reception – Mansion House

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An uplifting and thought-provoking message, shedding light on the compassionate endeavours of the London City Mission.

My Lady Mayoress, Chairman, friends and supporters

I am delighted to have been asked to say a few words this evening and it is a real pleasure to be back at the Mansion House. Of course that has a double meaning in this context, because for those of us that have been here before it is indeed lovely to be back, but for the charity this is especially significant because it always was the case that the Lord Mayor and lady mayoress as the residents graciously allowed the charity to host an annual event here, which in recent years has lapsed – so it is lovely to see the charity back at Mansion House in the heart of the City for this reception.

In December I had the privilege to visit one of LCMs Day Centre projects at Webber Street, in Southwark, just a mile from where we are standing this evening. The Webber Street centre has for over 60 years been providing people who are homeless vital life-giving care, including cooked breakfast, hot drinks, access to clean showers, clean clothes and toiletries, help with form filling and access to help and other services. On the day I was there were also visits from two NHS mobile care services providing check-ups and care that visitors might not otherwise access.

The centre also has activities such as an art club, a board games club and a bible reading club. Whilst there I had the chance to chat with a few of the visitors and as is so often the case one is reminded that there is no them and us; some visitors are very well educated, some less so, there’s a range of career and work experiences and a range of family life experiences. Some visit regularly, some occasionally, some live on the streets close by, others come from far afield. I am sure there are some aspects of each visitor’s life that you and I would be able to identify with.

So, besides giving that vital life-giving care, on another level the centre provides humanity; many if not all of us have places we go, clubs, societies, activities where we go, that we know and are known, to be, to be ourselves, to relax refresh and recharge. And that is exactly what I saw at Webber Street; a place for those whose home is on the street, that don’t have access to a club or society, but somewhere they can go and just be. What a precious gift that is.

I also visited The Corner House, situated in the same building, which wonderfully provides accommodation and deep pastoral care for up to six months at a time for five men who are stepping out of homelessness.

In some ways, it might seem incongruous to be here in the Ballroom of Mansion House talking about homelessness, and in some ways, of course it is, but I do think that it is good and right to celebrate and dare I say dance about, the amazing work that London City Mission is doing, and has been doing for 188 years, and in very practical ways showing the love of Jesus to those who are marginalised, living in the shadow of the City.

The Epistle of James reminds us that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress.” And I want to thank and honour London City Mission as they live this reality out.

Thank you