2 AU graduates called to help establish evangelical church in England

LONDON — Britain, which gave the world the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, Messiah and Handel’s Methodism, was once a Christian stronghold, exporting the Gospel — and the Church of England – to the four corners of the globe.

These days it’s a mission field, say Seth and Megan Campbell.

University of Arkansas graduates, missionaries to the city of 9 million since August 2021, are helping plant an evangelical church, Redeemer Queen’s Park, in a neighborhood about 4 miles northwest of Buckingham Palace .

Nearly five centuries after King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church, the country’s skyline, in many areas, still looks Christian.

“There’s no shortage of churches. When you look around London you’ll see lots of steeples. You won’t see many people [in them],” he said.

Only 2% of Londoners are evangelicals and Christian organizations on all sides are struggling, he said.

“There are still some strong Anglican churches, some strong Catholics,” he said. “I think with each passing generation, there are fewer and fewer of them.”

The Campbells are working with other Americans to help change that.

The couple’s journey to overseas ministry began in October 2020.

Newlyweds at the time, they learned of the decline of Christianity in England after a video from Cross Church Northwest Arkansas highlighted Redeemer Queen’s Park’s efforts to reach people in London.

Watching him, she and her husband independently felt like God was calling them to join the effort, Megan Campbell said.

They believed, if it was God’s will, doors would open, she said.

And they opened it.

MOVING TO UK

In Fayetteville, Seth had studied broadcast journalism; Megan majored in math, with minors in teaching and Spanish.

The UK, they quickly learned, does not desperately need journalists, but it does lack maths teachers.

When the British authorities discovered that Megan had completed her education and was eager to become an educator, the barriers to immigration disappeared.

“It was crazy how fast everything was moving,” she said. “We watched this video the first weekend in October, then we moved here in August the following year, so it was less than a year.”

“Whenever we had doubts, we just brought them to Christ,” she said. “The Lord provided jobs, He provided visas, He provided finances.”

To help raise funds, they sold “everything we owned,” she said.

“TV, couch, shelves, plates,” said Seth Campbell.

“Anything you can think of, basically,” Megan Campbell added.

Even his red 2009 Nissan Ultima and blue 2016 GMC Terrain.

By the time they finished, they had little left.

Seth, a multimedia reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and Megan, a staffer at Cross Church, quit their jobs, packed up their few remaining belongings, and headed to England.

“Almost the only thing we brought here was clothes, shoes, photos and books, and that’s basically it,” she said. “We moved here with four suitcases, two carry-on bags and two backpacks.”

For Megan, finding work was easy. Seth’s job search took a little longer and his lack of employment the first month made things difficult.

“Two of us living in London with London prices on a teacher’s salary was unsustainable,” he said.

FIND JOBS

As he searched, he took any temporary work he could find.

After about six months, she was offered a position at Redeemer working with young adults.

“I love every minute,” he said.

Megan teaches at Langley Grammar School, about 8km west of Heathrow Airport. Her students range from sixth through 12th grade, so their needs vary widely.

They are required to wear uniforms, the kind of clothing worn by Hogwarts students in the “Harry Potter” series, she noted.

“They’re all wearing green blazers, black pants or skirts, white button up shirt,” she said. “Boys must wear green and yellow ties.”

“There’s no trigonometric class. There’s no calculus class. It’s just math. I teach all ages. I teach all day,” she said. declared.

It takes her an hour and 10 minutes to get to and from her school, she said last month.

“I leave the apartment around 6:30 in the morning,” she said. She comes home at “4:30 or 5 p.m. [p.m.]depending on traffic,” she said.

“I must daily depend on the Lord for my strength. Otherwise, I will be exhausted. I will be a bad [representative]. It’s definitely difficult,” she said.

In England, Seth said, “Everything is expensive.”

The entry-level teacher’s salary is around L26,000 – around $30,000, Megan said.

London is an amazing city, with some of the best museums and parks in the world. “You never get bored unless you want to be bored,” Megan said. But she’s there, she says, because that’s where she believes God called her.

“One of the easiest ways to show the Lord that you love Him is to simply say ‘yes’ to what He tells you to do,” she said.

Convincing Britons to embrace evangelical Christianity will not be easy.

FALLING FREQUENCY

Regular church attendance, as measured by the Church of England and others, has been plummeting for decades.

The vast majority of those who identify as Christian do not attend church, even at Christmas and Easter, statisticians say.

Many, said Seth Campbell, used to show up for “the three big events in life: when you get married, you get buried, or [after] you are born.”

These days, even that is diminishing.

The Evangelical Fellowship UK estimates that 6% of the population are ‘practicing Christians’.

The Church of England’s 2019 Statistics for Missions report illustrates the downward trends. See tinyurl.com/2pkwnjuy.

Between 2009 and 2019, average adult attendance on Sundays fell by 18% and children’s attendance on Sundays fell by 30%.

In a single decade, baptisms or baby showers, weddings or prayer and dedication services, and funerals fell 37%, 42% and 31%, respectively.

Many people have tried to reverse these trends; many have failed.

Megan knows the numbers, the enormity of the challenge, but that hasn’t deterred her.

“I just want to be here, live my life as Christ would have it and be able to share with people where my hope comes from,” she said. “It’s in the Lord, and the Lord has never let us down.”

Fellow American Thomas West, pastor of Redeemer, praised the Campbells’ faithfulness.

They both show up about an hour early to help prepare for weekly services, which are held at an area high school. They stay about an hour after to help restore the room to its original state, he said.

Megan conducts the music from time to time.

“Churches like this don’t start and sustain without people like the Campbells who love Jesus,” West said.

They “don’t seek the limelight or the spotlight,” he said. “[They] are just here to serve and help build the church. They are wonderful people. We wouldn’t be the same without them.”

He also expressed his appreciation for the entire Cross Church family, noting that they provide the Redeemer with prayers and financial support.

“Pseudo [Floyd, its pastor,] became a personal friend and encourages me, and I’m so grateful to him,” West said.

Cross Church’s goal, announced in late 2020, is to plant 10 new churches by 2030, according to Brian Dunaway, its director of communications and technology.

“God is calling us to go spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, so that is what we are doing,” he said.

So far he has helped launch three, including the one in London, Dunaway said. Details of a fourth will be announced next month, he added.


At Redeemer Queen’s Park, an evangelical church in London, teatime is followed by praise and worship. The congregation meets at a primary school about four miles northwest of Buckingham Palace. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Frank E. Lockwood)



Barry F. Howard