We have been well served by previous worshipers of Donnington Evangelical who left detailed records of church life. They form an impressive archive, which we hope to examine over the next few years.
In 1930, a small group of local Christians came together to constitute a new church. It was originally known as the Willesden Christian Fellowship. It would later become Donnington Evangelical Church.
The desire was for a church that emphasised Word and Spirit. They believed the Bible was God’s word and the sole authority for Church life. There was also the convicting, driving work of the Holy Spirit bringing new life to the spiritually dead, making each believer more like Christ.
The original land for the building was provided by the Moss family, who were part of the fellowship for over 40 years. The work was completed in January 1931.
Permission was given by the local council to commence a children’s work in the King Edward’s Park, next to Donnington Hall. God grew this work dramatically and within a short period of time, there were around one hundred children who attended. Most of the church was mobilised to meet this new demand.
Mr Ernest Grimwood became the first Minister of the new church and served for almost three years. Miss Hilda Pastrone, of Deacon Road Willesden, became the first person baptised at Donnington in 1932. In the 89 years that followed, over hundred people have followed, giving testimony to the forgiveness of Christ and their desire to serve Him.
The Second World War had a devastating effect on national life. Donnington appears to have largely been spared from this, although due to evacuation, the Sunday School was reduced to a handful of children. There was also a German bomb that landed less than 200 metres from the church building. There was no lasting damage to the property, though homes were destroyed.
After the War, regular services and the children’s work re-started. Over the years, there has also been outreach in the parks and sports centre. There were visitations to hospitals (the old Willesden General), care homes and to nearby residents.
A number of faithful men have served in the pastorate of Donnington over the years. This has included, Murdo Gordon, Bev Savage, Grahame Johnstone, Claudio da Fonseca Amaral and now Andrew Gordon. The church has also been blessed by itinerant ministry when the pastorate was vacant. Those who have ministered at Donnington include Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Westminster Chapel) and Rev. Dick Lucas (St Helen’s, Bishopsgate).
In the early days of the church, Rev. Grimwood regularly prayed that God would make Donnington, ‘a watershed of blessing to the ends of the earth’. How was that prayer answered?
People have left Donnington to serve as pastors, elders, deacons, missionaries and passionate members. One member became leader of the British Evangelical Council (now Affinity), while a former pastor was General Secretary for the FIEC.
Donnington has had a long history in Mission work overseas. The church presently partner in Mission work in Japan, Pakistan, Burkino Faso, Nigeria, Thai speakers in the UK, Middle East and also in London, with LCM.
‘May Donnington be a watershed of blessing to the ends of the earth.’ Perhaps the most fascinating development is how the nations have come to Donnington in recent years. People from over 35 nations have come to teach, study, confess and serve Christ. The prayers of Rev. Grimwood have been answered in a remarkable way.