WHEN the Windrush immigrants arrived in Britain in the
1950s, the Church of England failed to offer them a warm welcome
(News, 25 October). Sixty
years later, a church in east London has opened wide its doors,
with the result that a Bulgarian community has decided to join the
Church of England.
On Sunday, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen
Cottrell, presided at 14 baptisms and 16 confirmations of
Bulgarians who worship at St Paul's, Stratford, in east London. A
total of 28 were received into the Church.
The Bulgarian community started hiring St Paul's ten months ago
as an Assemblies of God congregation, with about 60 to 80 members.
Having built a relationship with the Anglican congregation,
including doing joint mission work, their pastor decided to join
the C of E.
"It was part of wanting to stay, and establish, and assimilate,"
said the Priest-in-Charge of St Paul's, the Revd Jeremy Fraser, on
Tuesday. "They were feeling that they ought to become part of a
British Church, and, through conversations, the pastor realised
that it was a broad Church where being Charismatic did not stop you
from being a member; nor [did] being High Catholic."
While older members of the community continue to attend a
Bulgarian-language service on Friday evenings, others have joined
the Sunday congregations. Mr Fraser said: "We've had a lot of
African and West Indian members; so when we approached [the
congregation] about the Bulgarian people, they looked back on that
history of subtle racism and said, 'That is not going to happen
again.' There was a wonderful warmth with which people said, 'Of
course we are going to want to have them.'"
Mr Fraser described Stratford as "the place where the world
comes together", and his congregation as "very diverse".