Our history begins with members of the U.S. military gathering to worship at Grosvenor Chapel during the Second World War led by U.S. Navy chaplains. After the war, the congregation grew from the ranks of State Department and Defense Department families while still relying on military chaplains for leadership.
In 1969, the church launched independent of that support, enacting by-laws as the American Church in London and calling its first settled minister, Rev. William Schotanus. After worshipping in several different church buildings, the American Church landed at the Whitefield Memorial Church on Tottenham Court Road in 1972, where we have been ever since.
Whitefield Memorial Church was built in 1957-8, after the previous church on the site was destroyed on Palm Sunday, 25 March 1945, by one of the last V2 rockets to hit London. The church was built for the famous preacher George Whitefield in the mid-18th century. Whitefield, a contemporary of John and Charles Wesley, was renowned for drawing crowds of thousands when preaching in open fields and for his many missionary tours of the British colonies in America. Whitefield was the first Anglo-American celebrity, preaching the grace of Jesus Christ for all people. The Whitefield congregation, part of the United Reformed Church, disbanded in the late 1970s, and the American Church joined the United Reformed Church and has occupied the sanctuary ever since.
In 1986, the church launched The Soup Kitchen, serving a hot meal to people in need. Still housed in the church, The Soup Kitchen now serves meals five days a week, serving, on average, more than 80 meals a day. There is also a clothes closet and other outreach ministries, all supported by 5-6 daily volunteers. Our community outreach has expanded to include a seasonal night shelter staffed by volunteers from the congregation in partnership with C4WS Homeless Project.
In the new century, our congregation has become more international, bringing together people from every continent who share a desire to unite as one Body of Christ. In 2012, the congregation voted to change our name to the American International Church to reflect the broad range of our membership and engage people from across London and across the world.
We imagine our future as the American International Church will invite us to grow both broader and deeper in our diversity and challenge us to make the love of Jesus real in service and worship.