Windrush 75 – An opportunity for Repentance and Repair

First published on: 22nd June 2023

On Thursday 22nd June the UK celebrated 75 years since the HMT Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks bringing with it over 800 British citizens from Caribbean nations who were invited to rebuild Britain following the Second World War.

That generation invested their skills and talents primarily in the NHS and the Transport system, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren continue to make contributions to life in the UK in every sphere of society. Southwark Cathedral hosted a national service of thanksgiving to honour the contributions of the Windrush generation and their decedents to both civic and church life in a special service on Thursday.

Remembering the Cost

The celebration of the Windrush generation and their descendants is important for the Nation and the Church. Whilst celebrating we must also acknowledge that the invitation to the UK was met with hostility, discrimination and struggle. Many people who arrived in the UK came from Anglican churches in the Caribbean and were expecting to be welcomed as family. Unfortunately, that was not often the case.

The result of that racial discrimination can still be seen in our churches today through our missing out on:

becoming a fuller expression of the God’s Kingdom to the world around us by including people from different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds.

the talents, skills and experiences of people who could enrich the church theologically and missionally.

the opportunity to lead the way, to prophetically declare to the world the nature of a God who welcomes all, loves all and died for all.

The Windrush celebration is an opportunity for us to reflect. To recognise that our racist attitudes and actions not only harmed those who were at the receiving end of our behaviours, but that we are also paying the price for those actions. It is a time for us to lament what we have lost, to repent of the sin of racism and to choose a better way to live.

Re-envisioning the Future

Repentance is more than acknowledging harm and saying sorry. It is the action of turning away from sin and actively, intentionally choosing God’s way. Repentance calls us to align our beliefs with God’s, that all people are made in His image and that we are all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

If we really believe that to be true, our actions will show it by becoming a church that:

Welcomes the stranger - That gives room for varied, distinctive, culturally appropriate expressions of faith. We will be a church that demonstrates a fuller expression of God’s Kingdom, where every nation, culture, people and language worships God.

Encourages and empowers everyone to participate - Making room for people who are not like us, to find their place of belonging and flourish by making their best contribution.

Can speak into our local and national context - Speaking up when we see unjust practices that marginalise and discriminate against others. Bringing God’s ministry of reconciliation into all areas of our society.

“That deep work of self-examination, repentance and making a mends is so important for us right now. It might be one of the most powerful acts we could make in our current moment. This would not only be a witness of Christ's love to the world around us, but would free all of us to live lives that are more shaped like Jesus. Growing into a church which really is a church for all the people who live in England. "

Rev Jerome Daniels – Windrush Descendant

Moving Forward

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

It can often seem like the injustices of the world are too big for us to overcome. For many of the Windrush generation and their descendants there have been times when they may have felt like giving up. When fighting for justice has felt futile in the face of opposition and rejection.

But for many families, their testimony is that God can and does bring justice to the oppressed. Sometimes that happens through big cultural changes, but often it is through the faithfulness of Christians from every walk of life who choose to defend, support and encourage those people who are regularly overlooked by our society and culture.

The prophet Micah reminds us that, each of us simply needs to do our part. Wherever we live, learn, work or play we can demonstrate God’s love for people be acting justly, loving mercy and humbly walking with God.


Jennie Taylor, Racial Justice Officer

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