Woodford Baptist Church’s new pastor shares story of ‘dramatic conversion’ and aims to help vulnerable residents
PUBLISHED: 14:45 26 February 2019
“What should we be doing to help people living on the margins?”
That is one of main questions on the mind of pastor Jonathan Somerville, who takes up the reins at Woodford Baptist Church this month.
He comes to the George Lane church from Wolverhampton, where he spent 10 years as a minister, and succeeds Neil Spencer – who led the congregation for the past 17 years.
The Recorder spoke with Jonathan to find out more about his story and his vision for the church.
“Our heads are still spinning a little from the move but we’re really enjoying it,” the 46-year-old said.
He and his wife moved to Woodford Green with their two children and golden retriever Maddie just last week.
Recalling his introduction to faith, he said: “I had very a dramatic conversion experience.”
“My family were not churchgoers – my dad had been in the Royal Air Force.”
He spoke of how, while growing up in east Yorkshire, he fell in with the wrong crowd and would get into trouble with the police.
One day, aged 15-and-a-half, he and his friends were on their way to have a fireworks fight.
“We walked past a church and thought ‘lets make some mischief and throw some fireworks inside’,” he said.
Suddenly, Jonathan was met by a pastor who shared with him a “simple gospel” which had a profound impact.
“Later that evening, lying in bed and thinking about all this stuff, I had what I can only describe as an experience with God,” he said.
Two years later Jonathan went on to become youth worker and then a pastor, aged 19.
He said that his priority for Woodford Baptist Church is to continue practising its motto: “Being a loving family united in Jesus, sharing the kingdom of God.”
Last week, he shared a meal with a rough sleeper named Paul who he met begging outside Woodford Station. “He told me that people are very kind in their donations of food, clothes and money, but that there was not a lot available for people on the margins,” he said.
This is something he is keen to address, he added, speaking of previous experience supporting night shelters and soup kitchens in Wolverhampton.