A barge designed to be a floating church for the communities of East London has been put up for sale by the Diocese of London.
The vessel, called Genesis, was commissioned in 2019, and delivered to its home on the River Lee alongside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in October 2020, but the pandemic meant that people were unable to worship on it because of Covid restrictions. After lockdown restrictions were eased worship services took place on board the barge for about a year, until the mission's leading vicar, Rev David Pilkington, left to take up a new post in the Carlisle diocese.
A Diocese of London spokesperson told the Church Times:
“Due to the restrictions in place caused by the pandemic, the new worshipping community was unable to meet aboard Genesis for the first 12 months of its being in situ, and instead relocated and grew in premises provided by local churches.
“Following the departure of the key lead, and having offered the use of the vessel elsewhere in the diocese, the decision was made to look to sell Genesis so that the funds could be redeployed to promote the growth of new worshipping communities elsewhere."
The Diocese said the project had nevertheless been a success in terms of achieving spiritual growth:
““The missional objectives of the project succeeded, and growing discipleship amongst the growing canal community around London remains part of the diocese’s missional strategy.”
The barge, which is up for sale for £650,000, has a roof inspired by organ bellows which could expand to allow around 40 people to worship together. It was hoped it would serve the parishes of St Paul’s, Old Ford and St Mary of Eton and the growing communities around the canal in East London, in Hackney Wick, Sweetwater, Eastwick and Here East.
As well as providing a venue for Christian worship, the boat was designed to provide a place of learning and well-being, and was available for hire for community development programmes and interfaith celebrations, among other activities.
The Diocese of London says it will consider offers for the barge.