Floating Church


A bespoke floating church, Christened Genesis, is offering a place of learning and wellbeing in East London, as well as providing a home for a thriving new worshipping community. 

Genesis will be moored at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for up to five years before sailing off to support other canalside communities. 

The Diocese of London’s vision, run in partnership with St Paul Old Ford and St Mary of Eton and ‘kept afloat’ with the support of £10,000 funding from the Trust, is serving St Columba East London – a new worshipping community for Hackney Wick and Fish Island.

As well as providing a venue for Christian worship, the boat is providing a place of learning and wellbeing, and is available to hire for community development programmes, children’s theatre, art exhibitions, business functions and inter-faith celebrations.

Over the past year, the St Columba community has been thriving. The boat has been hosting diverse activities that draw in people from across surrounding communities, and the vessel recently won a prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for its innovation, elegance and economical design.

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Some reflections from local people…

“St Columba has been accepting to people no matter what kind of background they come from…”

“Going to group has been a rebirth of myself…”

“As someone with no background of faith it’s changed what I thought possible about myself and my relationship with Christianity and religion. It’s changed how I want to be in the world.”

The many programmes Genesis hosts, includes: 

• The Journey – based on the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. A group of men and women who share their experiences, strength and hope that they may uncover and solve their common problems.

• Space for reflection and prayer – the boat provides a space for people to engage in reflective practices that help with ongoing growth and healing.

• Art on the Water – facilitated by resident artists and boaters from the community, Art on the Water gives young people the opportunity to get creative on the boat.

• Youth outreach – creating groups for young people to talk about life and wellbeing

• Retreats – visits to the countryside for young people, men and women to get away and reflect.

• Death café – group discussions around death and grieving post pandemic.

• Trainee RE teachers visits – an experience on the vessel for student teachers to learn about the boat’s work.

• Football and sports activities.

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