The arrival of the ship HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing more than 800 passengers from the Caribbean, is a moment that shaped modern Britain. On 22 June 2023 we will mark its 75th anniversary.
On Wednesday 23rd June 1948, The Times newspaper reported the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush under the headline "Jamaicans arrive to seek work." It said: "Of the 492 Jamaicans who arrived at Tilbury on Monday to seek work in this country, 236 were housed last night in Clapham South Deep Shelter. The remainder had friends to whom they could go and prospects of work. The men had arrived at Tilbury in the ex-troopship Empire Windrush. Among them are singers, students, pianists, boxers and a complete dance band. Thirty or forty had already volunteered to work as miners." The report was not entirely correct. There were also migrants from other parts of the Caribbean including British Guiana (now Guyana), Trinidad, Bermuda, and British Honduras (now Belize).
Some of those passengers and many who followed settled in our parishes and so one of the things we would like to do to mark this anniversary is create a Windrush picture wall. We would like all parishes with Caribbean members to submit pictures that includes those church members of Caribbean descent in their daily involvement in their church life.
We aim to get a first version ready to share on social media on Windrush day itself - please send contributions to Jassica Castillo-Burley as early as possible. It will then be updated over the coming weeks.
Prayers are being drafted that churches can use from 23 June:
God of the exile, thank you for the contributions of the Windrush generation to British life and culture. Thank you for those who bore the heat of explicit racism, refusing to bow to its demeaning demands, but lived out their conviction that all are made in the image and likeness of God, and that the humanity of none should be denied. Amen.
Almighty God, with gratitude, we remember those who came from the Caribbean community and other nations to enrich our society through hard work. Grant that your grace would maintain the unity of all people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Gracious Father, we ask for your forgiveness for our failure to love one another as you have loved us. We remember today those who suffer pain and neglect, discrimination and persecution. May we continue to increase in the power of your love and Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.