Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair

I called at Grosvenor Chapel in the autumn. It is situated in London’s Mayfair, which most people will know as Monopoly’s most expensive property square, as well as one of real London’s most expensive neighbourhoods. Indeed, it is one of the world’s dearest places to live. Its church, as one might expect, is suitably beautiful, elegant and sophisticated. Built in the 1730s, it is constructed in a tasteful classical style which reminds me a little of New England. Indeed, the church was popular with Americans during the last war. Internally, there are tastefully apportioned columns with ionic capitals, symmetrical windows and a beautiful gallery with gold-bordered panels. If you want a neat and elegant expression of Christian faith, here it is.

The list of former patrons and congregants is impressive, and includes Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Florence Nightingale, the Duke of Wellington, John Wilkes, the first Earl and Countess of Mornington and General Dwight Eisenhower. Although the current church’s leadership talk about how inclusive it is (‘within the liberal catholic tradition of the Church of England’), there are few members of the lower classes who live within the sound of this particular church’s bell.

I contrast the great and the good who have called, and still call, this church their spiritual home, with those of little Salem Chapel. How many great ones have attended our place of worship? Which great figures of history, or even church history, have darkened our doors? Certainly, our vernacular architecture cannot compete with Grosvenor’s, even though it was designed a century later. Ours is a poorer place for a poorer people. Yet, for having gathered in His name, the Lord Jesus somehow deigns to join us each week, by His Spirit. I cannot feel him, much less see Him, but I believe it because He promised it. I cannot vouch for the evangelical fervour of Grosvenor Chapel’s upper class congregation, but I can categorically state that the farmers, pensioners, students and manual workers of Salem Chapel are ennobled and dignified by their Saviour, if not by their titles, honours and architectural surroundings.

For brethren, you see your calling, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. 1 Corinthians 1:26, Geneva Bible