Torch relay provides poignant occasion for City Gates congregation following building collapse

Sunday’s events as the Olympic Flame travels through Ilford will be particularly poignant for the staff and congregation of the City Gates Christian Centre.

In January, their church, which was under construction in Clements Road, Ilford, collapsed.

Though no one was seriously injured, the work has not resumed since.

But as part of the borough’s Olympic celebrations, a choir from the church will sing at the development site.

It will be the first time most of the congregation have been to the spot where it is hoped building will start again in a “few months”.

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Pastor Stephen Derbyshire said: “We only got the keys last week to see if it’s going to be all right to use it.

“There is excitement about going on the site.”

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The choir and dancers will also take to the Rise and Shine Redbridge stage in Ilford Town Centre, while members of the congregation will hand out balloons, bottles of waters and Danish pastries in Oakfield Road.

Mr Derbyshire said the Torch relay was “an opportunity to get people out on the streets who wouldn’t be out on a Sunday morning”.

The church will hold two services at its current home in Cineworld in Clements Road at 10am and 11.30am.

They will be joined by Tough Talk, a team of “ex-bouncers, ex-football hooligans and ex-East End hard men” and “keen powerlifters” who promote the Christian faith.

A barbecue will also be held in Clements Road at 6.30pm.

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