09 July 2010
Are South Asians 'unwelcome' in mainstream churches?
Asian church and mission leaders meeting at a national conference last month pledged to work together with each other and the wider church and to engage more effectively with people of all faiths in the spiritual, social, cultural and political areas.
"We need to take the initiative both ways," said Ram Gidoomal, chairman of the South Asian Forum, responding to suggestions by the BBC Asian Network that Asian Christians have felt neglected by the mainstream churches.
"Asian churches would like to contribute to the wider church, while also gaining recognition for their particular concerns. This conference has addressed the very real issues that some have faced, by affirming different models and pledging to work together".
The sixth 'Jewels in His Crown' conference brought together Asian church leaders and members, mission agencies and mainstream UK churches. They affirmed the place of different forms including Asian-led and Asian-majority churches, multi-cultural churches, and the role of mainstream and traditional churches. They acknowledged divisions between language, community and denominational groupings and committed themselves to work together to demonstrate unity across boundaries within the Asian communities and with the church as a whole.
The conference also agreed to seek closer relationships with African-Caribbean and other Asian churches who have been on a similar journey and face similar issues.
Mainstream denominational leaders responded by emphasising their openness to people of all backgrounds. The Church of England drew attention to various initiatives to draw more ethnic minorities into membership and leadership, while Fr Adrian McKenna, a Roman Catholic priest, said, "in my own Parish we have 28 different languages spoken by people from 24 different countries".
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Notes to Editors
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