“God chose Mary, Joseph and the shepherds - simple people - to proclaim the new kingdom. Once we have been blessed with the presence of Jesus, we have the responsibility to share that experience, to proclaim his Gospel”
A packed church heard these words from Ivonne Loján at the first ever London Cleaners Carol Service on 10th December 2022. Having worked as a cleaner, Ivonne is now on the team building a Guild Church for Workers at St Katharine Cree in the City of London.
As Ivonne explained, the Gospels emphasise the place of the poorest and most marginalised in the story of Jesus’ birth. The Carol Service included powerful reflections from cleaners and community organisers on passages from Isaiah, Matthew and Luke - telling the story of their faith in Jesus, and how it sustains their own struggle for dignity and justice.
The service was held at St Katharine Cree, in partnership with Clean for Good - an award-winning ethical cleaning company, founded by another City church and two Christian charities, after a listening process with London cleaners. The trilingual service included music from the Portuguese Choir of St Martin’s Plaistow.
The service came just weeks after Bishop Sarah visited St Katharine’s to lead the first ever Living Wage Week Service, which included testimony and reflections from London’s care workers. Both services had a strongly ecumenical element, with testimony from Pentecostals and Roman Catholics. In particular, they reflected the growing partnership between St Katharine’s and their Roman Catholic neighbours in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Tower Hill.
As Fr Josh Harris explains in his Lion Sermon, St Katharine’s ministry recognises the place of workers who are socially and economically marginalised within London's economy, but on whose work the prosperity and success of us all depends:
Prosperity is sustained not by building walls around our own kingdoms of comfort, but weaving together the many diverse strands of the modern City into seamless and strong relationships of trust and dependability. We all have our different vulnerabilities; but we all have strengths to offer; we all have a part to play. On the foundation of solidarity we can build a better future beyond crisis.
Workers who are marginalised stand - as in the New Testament - at the very heart of the Church alongside all those who long for a just and hopeful future. As the Guild Church for workers in the City, we want to play our part in reweaving the fabric of our City here, by supporting workers to gather together to share their stories, to encourage each other, to pray, to build relationships of trust and mutual respect and exchange.
Enjoy some pictures from the evening - and join us next year!