One of the goals I had for studying abroad was to consistently attend a church on Sundays. I thought that if I went to a service each week, I’d be able to make some connections within the London community and see how other Christians around the world worship each week.
Now, this didn’t exactly go as planned. In England, most the churches are affiliated with the Church of England. There aren’t as many options for those who attend Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, etc. churches in the States. Most of these services are traditional with organs, a choir, and priests dressed in robes. While I enjoy this kind of service from time to time, it’s not my favorite way to worship. This made it more difficult to find a church that I wanted to go to week after week.
Additionally, I planned most of my trips over the weekends so I wasn’t in London most Sundays. I should have scoped out churches in the area where I was traveling, but most of the time, going to a service did not fit into my group’s itinerary.
Of the services I did attend, I was able to worship in some pretty cool places. I went to a traditional service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and a Hillsong service at the Apollo Victoria theater. Talk about a change in service style, and in venue! While I enjoyed my experience at these churches, they weren’t quite for me.
Too late… I remembered that Holland UCC, the church I attend at Hope, streams their services every Sunday. This would have been so useful for when I was traveling outside of London. If your church streams their message online, use it! Then you can get the service you love anywhere in the world.
On the Sunday of Finals Week, I noticed a bunch of people gathering around the Ethiopian Church across from my apartment building. Everyone was wearing Christmas hats and welcoming people into the church. It turned out that Kings Cross Church held English services at this old venue every Sunday, and that today was their series of carols services. I decided I would take a break from my final paper and go see what it was all about. Boy had I been missing out all semester! Most of the congregation was made up of people who were my age, the message was wonderful, and the music was a healthy mix of a classical and modern vibe. I absolutely loved everything about this church — and to think it had been right in front of my nose this whole time!
If you are studying abroad soon, do some research about churches in your area. You may be surprised by what you find! Like my home church, see if any of these international churches stream services, and watch them before you go. That way you know which church you would like to attend before you arrive. And if anyone is studying in London, check out Kings Cross Church at the Ethiopian Christian Fellowship Church on Pentonville Road. I know that’s where I will attend when I find myself back in London!