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Children of a White God

Jagdish Singh

Mainstream churches in England are failing Asian Christian worshippers according to an article published by the BBC.

The South Asian Forum launched in March 2010 was set up to represent the views and needs of Asian Christians and to campaign on their behalf.

The Forum claims that many of Britain’s estimated 75,000 Asian Christians do not feel welcome in Christian churches.

Jagdish Singh from Wolverhampton recounted his experience after visiting a local Church.

“They were all staring at me,” he told BBC Asian Network.

“They seemed to be wondering: ‘Where has this coloured man come from?’

“Afterwards, nobody spoke to me except for the vicar. He was standing at the door, shook my hand and asked me who I was, but nobody in the congregation spoke to me.

“I went there for a few weeks, but felt that I didn’t belong there. I can speak English perfectly and I went to an English school but, although I had become a Christian, I didn’t feel a part of them. To me they didn’t look as if they wanted me there.”

The South Asian Forum says Asian Christians are setting up more of their own churches in response to a hostile rejection from white Christians. This would follow the experience of the African Caribbean community who suffering similar rejection established Black churches. As a consequence these churches are now the largest growing Christian community in the UK.

The Asian Calvary Church in Wolverhampton is one such church that has been established in direct response to the difficulties faced by Asian Christians with mainstream white Christian churches.

Harjeet Singh, a taxi driver from Wolverhampton, is one of the worshippers.

“To the mainstream churches, I would say they should support us so that Asian Christians will have more freedom to worship,” he said.

Robin Thomson, of Asian worshipper support group South Asian Concern, said:

“There are no official figures for the number of Asian Christian churches in Britain.

“But what we do know is that there are definitely 90 Tamil churches or groups here, so I would say there are at least 200 Asian Christian churches.”

Ahead of a national conference of Asian Christians from across Britain in Derbyshire this weekend, the Church of England acknowledges the problem and says it must improve relations with them.

A spokesman for the Church of England speaking to the Guardian newspaper said it was doing more to engage with all ethnic minority worshippers.

He added:

“The Church of England is open to all and it is disappointing to hear that any individual feels they have not been made welcome in any church.

“Anyone with similar concerns should speak to their local clergy, who will be keen to identify constructive ways of better serving their needs. As an organisation, we are taking a range of steps to encourage and nurture Christians from all ethnic groups, including launching a ‘fresh expression’ of the church in Birmingham aimed specifically at Asian Christians, and holding conferences to encourage more minority ethnic priests.”

As recently reported on OBV Blog Rev Rose Hudson Wilkin was recently appointed Chaplain for the House of Commons.

A 2007 survey by the Church of England said 2.2% of its 12,000 licensed clergy came from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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