Read / Feature

Watching God work on the Stonegrove estate

Pioneer Minster Simon Rea from the Stonegrove estate in North London has learned that sometimes God speaks to those we might consider the most unlikely people to draw people close to him.

‘I’ve been the pioneering minister of the Stonegrove estate for the last 13 years. It’s a place that has been unloved, unwanted, and right on the edge of everything.

‘In recent years, Stonegrove has changed from being a sink estate to being one which is no longer in the bottom 9% of the indices of multiple deprivations but in the top 20%. Despite massive social changes the church is still very much the church of the poor and those from global majority heritage backgrounds.’

Speaking to CCX at the Multiply Estates Mission conference of 2023, Simon expresses his own calling and his ministry simply: ‘I’m on the estate. I do what God puts in my path.’

He admits that this means he is sometimes taken by surprise, describing how one young person started coming to church, then brought others to find out more about Jesus.

‘She seemed to stick out a bit because she was young and white, and the majority of our members aren’t either. After a couple of weeks she bought her mother, then her boyfriend and then another friend. And suddenly there were students from the local school who were actually showing an interest in finding out more about Jesus; it was nothing to do with us because we can’t get into the school. But God now spoke to her and she is now drawing people in.’

‘At the end of one service, she asked for a Bible and we took one of the battered old church ones and gave it to her. After that her boyfriend and another friend came and asked for one too.

‘We know how this started,’ reflects Simon. ‘It was God; but we had no idea where it was going. Suddenly we had someone who was from quite a different background, wanting to serve in the church, wanting to get in there early to make a toast and tea, and bringing her friends in from what could be quite a hostile environment.

‘We just thank God for what he’s doing, working in the most unlikely places through the most unlikely people, even in those in our connections who we think are unlikely, he is there. He’s right there, and he’s drawing people to himself, for which we thank him.’

If you would like to find out more about the support CCX can offer for estates mission, including 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