For a while now I have been aware of a group called “The Bear Church”, who celebrate Easter on Hilly Fields by the Brockley Stone Circle. I can’t remember where I first heard about this event, but it struck me as a somewhat pagan location for a Christian group, especially given the well known connections between the Easter traditions of buns, eggs and chocolate bunnies and pagan customs. I am also not aware of any connection between Christian doctrine and bears. It set me wondering about them. So this Easter I decided to go to the service and find out a bit more, and satisfy my curiosity about what sort of church they are.
I met their pastor, Paul Adlington, before the service. He was kind enough to answer my questions. It turns out the “Bear” of their name refers to the Brown Bear pub in Deptford High Street, where they were based when they were founded in the early 90s. They were then an example of the house church movement. However, about 10 years ago they merged with the Shaftesbury Church, and from then on had a dedicated building in Deptford. They decided to hold the Easter service at Hilly Fields because it is an outdoor location that a lot of their members can easily get to.
In short, they are really quite a normal church. They hold regular services every week, and give support to the community in various ways, such as running a mother and babies club, and a food bank. You can find out more about them here.