Farewell to Reverend Marcus Bennett, pastor of Elim Pentecostal Church in South Wimbledon

Wimbledon Guardian: Rev Marcus Bennett with his wife, daughters and congregation Rev Marcus Bennett with his wife, daughters and congregation

A much-loved pastor who served the community for 14 years has been called to a new church in Yorkshire.

At a farewell service on Sunday, March 23, the congregation of Elim Pentecostal Church in South Wimbledon paid tribute to pastor Reverend Marcus Bennett.

Mr Bennett, 41, sold security systems before he joined the church.

He said: "There's a real sense of calling about this so you just sort of know what you want to do.

"I wandered off to university an atheist at the age of 19 and one day I sat down with my friend and there was a warmth in the room that wasn't heat.

"So when she asked if I would become a Christian I said yes.

"People kept saying you should go into the ministry and when you get told by the 26th person you think well maybe God's trying to tell me something."

When he started, his congregation was primarily white, upper-middle class. In his final sermon he preached to 26 nationalities from a range of classes.

Mr Bennett said: "The diverse nationalities reflect South Wimbledon but we are also friendly and we make sure people feel welcome."

At the special service on Sunday, Rob Lewis, associate pastor at the church, preached a sermon speaking about all Mr Bennett has achieved.

From a small site in Montague road, the church moved to Pelham Primary School and then to the current, larger site in High Path, with a food bank and congregation of about 80 people.

Members of the congregation gave personal tributes to Mr Bennett before enjoying a meal prepared by volunteers.

Mr Bennett said: "I get to be there in the best and worst moments in peoples' lives and it is a privilege to be able to help."

Asked why he was moving, he said: "Once in a while you feel that God's calling you somewhere else. There's a sense of topography and mine just moved North."

Mr Bennett is moving to Elim Pentecostal Church in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire with his wife and two young daughters in early April.

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