St John on Bethnal Green is a Church of England (Anglican) church in the Diocese of London. It is part of the Anglo-Catholic tradition which, from the mid-nineteenth century, has sought to maintain the rich styles of worship and spirituality which have existed in this country from before Henry VIII's Reformation. We believe that, as a consequence of the birth of Jesus - God entering the world as a human being, we should celebrate the beauty of this world and human creativity so that our worship engages our senses as well as our heart and brain. Our church, then, has statues, candles, artwork and we use incense, colour, movement and music in our services.
Rooted in this tradition, we are committed to social justice and human flourishing and so we are a church that is enriched by the ordination of women and, frankly, is simply not bothered about sexual orientation!
We have an exciting arts programme and regularly host exhibitions, installations and concerts. In these engagements with artists we wish to challenge them with our religious tradition and expression, and we seek to be challenged by their perspective and originality!
The East End of London experienced a huge increase in its population after the Battle of Waterloo and the Commission for New Churches responded with a flurry of church building. The commissioners appointed the eminent architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837), designer of the Dulwich College Art Gallery, to draw up plans for St John on Bethnal Green. St John's was consecrated by the Bishop of London on 16 October 1828.
St John on Bethnal Green has now embarked on a comprehensive repair programme which seeks to restore the crisp, clean lines of Soane's original building and to keep it at the heart of community life in Bethnal Green.