Christ Church Bath is marking the Windrush anniversary with a streamed Eucharist on Sunday 21 June. This is the third year the church has held a thanksgiving service, but this year, due to coronavirus it will be held virtually with video contributions from members of the West Indian community talking about their lives and experiences. Bishop Peter has recorded a special message to be played during the service.
Although years’ service is being held remotely, it will, perhaps, be one of the most important; following George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests drawing much needed attention to racism, the community of Christ Church felt it was important to honour the contribution of the black community in Bath.
Revd Lore Chumbley is the Priest in Charge at Christ Church, “Because of the subsequent protests worldwide, we thought we can’t let this pass. This is something the white community have to take on board, it’s not a struggle that the black minority have to do alone, we should be making the changes.”
The Windrush generation are the parents and grandparents of people who themselves are still living and working in Bath and North East Somerset and arrived here in the 1940s to early 1970s. They answered the advertisements and personal invitations from the British Government Ministers to come to Britain and came with joy and pride in the ‘Mother Country’. They came to help to rebuild Britain after the destruction of the Second World War.
Pauline Swaby-Wallace is one of those who has helped organise the service, “When the Windrush generation came to Britain they bought or sent for their families to build a better life for everyone. They were proud to come to help in the rebuilding of the Mother Country’ but many were met with discrimination based on the colour of their skin.”
Christ Church was founded in 1798 as a chapel for the poor, inspired by Charles Daubeny who recognised people were unable to attend church if they couldn’t pay the ‘pew rents’ required at the time. So, together with William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner and other philanthropists he campaigned to raise enough money to build a church which would be free to attend.
When the Windrush generation settled in London, Bristol and then Bath, Christ Church came to be a place many felt welcome, that sense of outreach established when the church was founded, was still apparent. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s a large number of the black community of Bath worshiped at Christ Church.
With the passage of time, some of the descendants of that generation have moved away but the church is still the heart of the community to hold annual west Indian Islands independence services and for family memorial. Sunday’s service will celebrate that connection. There will be recordings of the Bath ‘Rainbow’ steel band, the oldest steel band in the UK, and messages from BEMSCA (Bath ethnic minorities senior citizens’ community), and a recorded message from the Mayor of Bath.