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Sharing God’s love in the estates of Camberley

Chris Richardson is vicar of St Martin’s, a church in Camberley, Surrey. He spoke to CCX about his experience of witnessing God’s love spread throughout the local estate, seeing their congregation double in three years.

‘I’m Chris and I’m a vicar at St Martin’s church in Camberley. It’s my honour and privilege to lead an estate church where God has been at work powerfully, particularly in the last three years.

‘Someone asked me “How do you evangelise?” I responded that we just love people. They were surprised that we didn’t drop leaflets through people’s doors or things like that. The way we’ve been able to partner with Jesus in seeing him grow his Church is through showing sympathy, loving people, grounded in relationships. 

‘For example, when COVID hit, we immediately delivered free food parcels across the estates. And we picked up prescriptions and we did people’s shopping. And so people started thinking, okay, St Martin’s is getting involved.

‘As we continued to deliver free parcels to the estate, we then decided to do more. We just put some tables out in front of our church and partnering with a local community group, we gave away free food. People looked at us as if to say “What are you doing?”. When people took food they asked how much it cost and we were able to say that it was free. In week two we had about four people; in week three, 20 people and then suddenly we’re serving 50 people a week, suddenly they were queuing the length of the car park.

‘We found that as people were accessing free food we were just able to love them practically. We still operate the free food store which allows us to have conversations and we build relationships too. Seeing this led us to think more about hospitality and so we started a free community breakfast which we now offer every Sunday. We sit down around a table and we have conversations – it’s a way of building community but at the same time we’re trying to fight food poverty because we’re in a disadvantaged area.

‘On average about 75 people have breakfast with us every week. And what I love about it is people know that we’re there because we love them. There’s no agenda, it’s just “come and have breakfast with us!”. We have a real mix – all sections of society, some churchgoers and some not. Having it before the service means that some people come next door and join in worshipping with us as well. Not everyone, of course, but the church has grown because of that. Our Sunday congregation has now doubled in three years and we’re now averaging 100 a week. 

‘And it’s just beautiful. Because all we’re doing is being there. And when we sit down with people, they say thank you so much.

‘And I think, “Why?” And of course, they say to me, “Well, you listen, so thank you”.’

If you are inspired by the story of Camberley, find out more about the support CCX can offer for estates mission, including details on Become – an accessible theology and leadership course with a creative, interactive approach to teaching. Helen Shannon and Ash Chafe of the CCX Estates Mission Team would love to hear from you. Email them at