Windrush celebration at All Nations Baptist Church
Beverley Hillman reports on an uplifting spiritual service marking the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush
Our church, All Nations Baptist Church, held a special service for Windrush 70 in July. The SS Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury docks on 22 June 1948 carrying passengers from the Caribbean and other countries. We commemorated and celebrated the contribution of the Windrush pioneers and the Windrush generation to Britain. Our church, has a diverse congregation, but the majority are of African and African Caribbean heritage.
Prior to the service, you could feel the ‘buzz,’ in the air as our members volunteered, supported each other and bonded together in preparation for the service.
Our Windrush service was also an opportunity for outreach. We invited family, friends, past members and our sister church Raleigh Park Baptist Church (Brixton SW2). Christ’s Academy (which hires our church hall for their Sunday service), closed their church for the day and their members and pastors joined our service.
It was a glorious sunny day and more than 200 people attended. The congregation were informed of the contribution and sacrifice of the African and African Caribbean community pre-Windrush, and their response to the call after World War two to help rebuild Britain.
The legacy explored the challenges, achievements, resilience and lessons for the future.
Our pastor Paul Ogunyemi led the service and his sermon reflected on the diversity of life in Britain and the importance of Love (1 Corinthians 13:4–8 ). Five other pastors were in the congregation, and a reading was read by one of them. The children sang action songs and an interview enabled others to reflect on their own experience of ‘Coming to England.’
Poetry, prayers and the worship team, touched our hearts, minds and soul with their contributions. Prayers were said for those across the country, who had been affected and traumatised by the Windrush fiasco. After the service, the congregation networked and enjoyed mouth-watering refreshments. A special anniversary cake was donated, decorated with scenes from the Windrush.
It was an uplifting spiritual service of praise and thanksgiving to God. Many had been unable to attend the Windrush Service held at Westminster Abbey held at 22 June 2018.
We thank God for a truly spirit–filled, memorable day.
Beverley Hillman is a member of All Nations Baptist Church