CofE's floating church to take the Gospel to London's canals

The Church of England has launched a pioneering new initiative to bring its message to a sometimes forgotten demographic – those who dwell not on land, but on the water.

The Diocese of London has commissioned the construction of a church-boat that will sail through East London's canal network, according to The Telegraph.

Diocese of LondonConcept art for the new church vessel, showing its expanding 'concertina' roof.

The ecclesial vessel, designed by the architects Denizen Works, will operate in the area's canal network near Newham's Olympic Park. It is designed to look like a conventional barge, but will include an expanding, concertina-style roof akin to the sleeping berths in a VW camper van, which will give the 650 square foot barge extra space.

The diocese said that plans for a floating church community have been under consultation during the summer. They have sought planning permission from Newham Council to moor the boat at various points along the canal, from the River Thames to the Olympic Park.

The Bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, told the East London Advertiser in July: 'A floating church in East London shows the way the diocese is seeking to spread its ministry and support communities. The design is a "vision" to become a reality.'

The vessel is yet to be constructed. But while it awaits completion another famous boating venue, West London's 'floating classroom' Elsdale II would be used instead.

Elsdale II is an electrically powered barge used for schools and community events, and has been active for more than a decade.