This year my grandmother turns 80. It’s a miracle that I know her age, as growing up this was often shrouded in mystery, a common trait amongst many of the women I grew up with in church! As the Windrush 75-year anniversary approaches, my heart swells with a sense of pride, reflecting on the women and men I grew up with in church and the lasting impact they’ve all had in shaping my identity as a young Black British woman.

Windrush represents a connection to my Bajan (Barbadian) heritage, carrying with it the courage and resilience of my grandparents as they came to Britain, seeking new opportunities to help rebuild a nation after war and provide for their own families. It is important to note that the migration during the Windrush era was initially intended to be temporary for many. Growing up I’d often hear my grandparents and their friends talk about their aspirations to go back home’ and plans to build their homes and rebuild their lives. However, over time, many chose to settle permanently.

Despite facing significant challenges, including racism, discrimination, and housing issues, they persevered. But sadly, even those who hoped to find belonging by identifying with fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, faced rejection from churches too. This exclusion left people like my grandmother feeling marginalised, rejected, and disconnected from the Christian communities they sought to join and dearly missed back home.

Amidst this exclusion, the black Pentecostal church emerged as a refuge for the Windrush generation. These churches, characterised by vibrant worship, spiritual fervour, and a strong sense of community, welcomed Caribbean immigrants with open arms — churches like Church of God of Prophecy (celebrating 70 years in the UK this year) where I have my roots. This church shaped me. It contributed to the strong foundation I have in my faith today and belief that Jesus is ultimately Lord over my life. It’s where I saw dedication to prayer, amazing worship and a reverence for the word of God. It’s home. These churches embraced their cultural identity, and welcomed Caribbean traditions, music, and preaching styles into church practise. Out of necessity, these churches fostered a sense of belonging and empowerment among the Windrush generation and created a strong community.


But what can the experience of my grandparents and the Windrush generation teach us today?

"But what can the experience of my grandparents and the Windrush generation teach us today?"

In the UK, it’s rare to hear stories of people explicitly being told they aren’t welcome in churches purely based on their race. However, for some even today, there are still subtle cues to alert people to the fact that they wouldn’t be welcomed or fit’ into a church.

Embracing people from all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities should be seen as a biblical necessity. The Bible emphasises the unity of all believers and the equal worth of every individual, regardless of their cultural background. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes, So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Any church risks ostracising anyone who isn’t from the dominant culture. If a guest, or even a member, feels that they don’t belong as a result of their cultural background, age or class, something has gone wrong. Whilst building an intercultural church requires intentional efforts to foster acceptance and celebration of all people and cultures the balance is that a kingdom culture prevails over everything.

For second and third generation young people from the diaspora who have grown up in Britian, this balance is particularly important. Everything must point to Jesus and the sacrifice He made for all people at the cross of Calvary. Whilst I long to feel connected to my Caribbean heritage, I don’t necessarily look to my local church to be the primary place for my unique culture to thrive and be on show.

"Embracing people from all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities should be seen as a biblical necessity"

Churches must actively be open to educate themselves about different cultures and traditions, acknowledging the richness and value they bring. Especially in churches planted in incredibly diverse areas, efforts to reach them with the good news should have appreciation for the cultural context many find themselves in.

The chorus of one of my Gran’s favourite hymns rings in my ear:

When we all get to heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that shall be.

When we all see Jesus,

We will sing and shout the victory!”

One beautiful day, we will all rejoice, worship and sing praises to the King of Kings, in unity and one accord. I pray as it is in heaven, it will be so on earth, and churches across this nation would embrace all people in worship of Jesus.

One People Commission

One People Commission

Uniting the ethnically and culturally diverse church, in all its vibrant expressions Find out more
The intercultural church: growing in unity

The intercultural church: growing in unity

Bishop Mike Royal outlines the value of integration and intercommunity and why unity must always be at the heart of growing the kingdom of God