White Eagle, the well known spirit guide of Grace Cooke is claimed to be the instigator of Kenton Spiritualist Church.
White Eagle was said to have once described himself as a "builder of churches" and made his wishes about Kenton Church known and actually specified the venue. The claim is made in a letter from Grace Cooke to Len Russell, who in 1972 was the Church President.
Grace wrote from the White Eagle Lodge at Liss, Hants. It revolves round Grace and her husband Iver settling down in Ruislip after their return from Australia in 1925 and actively involving themselves in Harrow Spiritualist Church affairs.
In addition to public work, Grace started a private group for spiritual development and it is from this source that the legend stems.
It was during this time that the concept of establishing a Spiritualist Church at Kenton was first talked about. The Oak room in Churchill Hall at Northwick Park was specified and in 1928 the Church was officially inaugurated. Services and meetings were held here every week as well as fundraising events such as bazaars.
The first President was Major Milne. After Major Milne came Mr. Islip as President with his brother Walter as treasurer and Miss Islip as secretary. Aided by a small committee, the family ran the Church for many years and as membership grew, a building fund was set up and intensive fundraising efforts undertaken.
Soon over £500 had been collected (a lot of money in those days) and in 1932 a plot of land was purchased at Woodcock Hill and fenced in. It was about this time that the Cookes pulled out and set up the White Eagle Lodge in Kensington. There are now many White Eagle Lodges around the world and the main one is at Liss, Hampshire.
In 1950 Mr. And Mrs Bower took over as president and secretary and looked after the Church for nearly 14 years. During this time, the Oak room at Churchill Hall was still being used; as the plot of land earmarked for the site became the subject of complaint from the local council. This concerned the condition it was in. The property was then transferred to the Spiritualist National Union. It was then sold and the proceeds held in trust. By doing this, the hard work, devotion and efforts of the previous workers were not wasted.
The couple, however, had to leave the area and in the absence of a committee and the looming prospect of closure, the then London District Council stepped in with an offer of help, which was gratefully accepted.
In January 1964, Len Russell was appointed President and Lesley Davey (at that time London District Council President) became treasurer. Lesley held this post until 1968. Soon the search was on for a suitable property and after many disappointments and planning refusals, Len finally found the present property at 35 Churchill Avenue near main bus and train routes.
Before the house deal could be completed, permission had to be obtained from Brent Council and a three year temporary planning permission permit granted. The Spiritualist National Union surveyed the property and allowed the Church a mortgage; which together with the cash held in reserve, allowed the deal to go through.
This was early 1967 and a date in April was arranged for the official opening. This meant that everything had to be done very quickly. Mr. Russell undertook to get the structural work done, Mr and Mrs Brooke saw to the interior decoration and curtains.
After all this activity, the work was completed in time for the opening. "A credit to all concerned" said Len "including our spirit helpers". About 70 people attended the opening ceremony and owing to a lack of seating, many had to be turned away.
The upstairs part of the house was converted into a flat and let to suitable tenants; initially they were people that worked for the Church. In 1978 the mortgage was finally paid off thus ensuring that Kenton has its own Spiritualist Church for all time. Len was President for 12 years and Mrs Russell was a committee member also.
There is a thriving committee. Services take place twice a week - Thursday evenings at 7.45 and Sunday evenings at 6.30. There is also a dedicated group of healers and healing is on Wednesday evening from 7.30 until 9. The Church has a development circle on Tuesday evenings at 7.30.
The Church is a sanctuary for everyone that steps through the door and now as then we give out our love, concern, kindness and happiness to all that enter - striving never to hurt anyone by word or deed. All will be helped or refreshed and this will never change.
It has been said that the Church was built in the Spirit World first. The calm, peaceful atmosphere of our Church seems to support this.
Mr. & Mrs. Russell