Celebrating Windrush, 70 years on: Church and music – part two by Juliet Fletcher

Since the last issue of Keep The Faith magazine so much has happened in our Community! Much has occurred to challenge the idea of celebration, particularly as we consider the unprecedented levels of deaths by gun and knife violence, primarily among young Black youths.

Not only that, while I’m writing this article, debate is raging in Parliament about the handling of hundreds of Windrush Era migrants, who came the UK as young children/youths, and now, 50 years later as adults – many with grandchildren and great-grandchildren – they have not been recognised as British citizens. They are battling for their right to live and work in the UK; some have been deported or under the threat of deportation; lost jobs; left bereft of NHS treatment, and denied Benefit support. The Windrush immigration debacle has been described as ”shameful”, “a disgrace” and even “downright racism”.

The latest news is that the Government has now provided a special taskforce, which is intended to ensure all members of the Windrush generation,who arrived in the UK before 1973, will be eligible for free citizenship. Regardless, the community is still hurting over the impact.

It is E-X-T-R-A-O-R-D-I-N-A-R-I-L-Y  U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E that this should have happened. Yet, there is something about it all that, by God’s grace, could cause something greater to arise for us all.

Being of Caribbean extract myself, I believe the injustices of the situation fuel the critical need, more than ever before, to place an indelible stamp upon the conscious minds and hearts – not only of our own community, but more so of the host community. This can only be demonstrated by the value we place upon ourselves; our history; our heroes and sheroes; upon our buildings, where significant events have taken place, and to herald our annual anniversaries, like Windrush Day, with greater reverence, honour and pride.

Four significant events happening this year – and may be repeated in the future – are as follows:

HISTORY OF BLACK GOSPEL MUSIC TOUR with Dr Cedric Dent

GMIA is working in association with Cordel Events, as they promote award-winning (US vocal group) TAKE 6 legend, Dr Cedric Dent. He is conducting a series of workshops on the History Of Black Gospel Music. A mix of performance and interactive presentations, you will experience a unique musical journey through the storytelling and demonstrations of a knowledgeable, faith-filled practitioner. There are six dates and venues to choose from:

Date: Saturday 9th June
Time: 18.00
Venue: Marcus Garvey Library Tottenham, London N15 4JA

Date: Sunday 10th June
Time: 18.30
Venue: St Philip’s Birmingham Cathedral, Birmingham B3 2QB

Date: Tuesday 12th June
Time: 19.30
Venue: Norwich Cathedral, Norwich NR1 4DH

Date: Wednesday 13th June
Time: 18.30
Venue: St Matthew’s Church, Kingsdown BS6 5TB

Date: Thursday 14th June
Time: 18.00
Venue: St Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton WV1 1TY

Date: Saturday 16th June
Time: 19.00
Venue: Leicester Cathedral, Leicester LE1 5PZ

All ticket prices are £10 plus Eventbrite’s booking fee of £1.07 (total £11.07).

Visit www.eventbrite.co.uk and search The History Of Black Gospel Music, Cordel Events.

BRITISH LIBRARY – WINDRUSH GOSPEL MAKE MUSIC DAY SPECIAL

Make Music Day UK is part of a global celebration of music, and the great institution, The British Library, is launching a Windrush Exhibition entitled Songs In A Strange Land. And, on behalf of the GMIA, I’ve been asked to organise and host a Windrush Gospel Lunchtime Performance on its spacious forecourt. Premier Gospel Awards Choir of The Year, John Fisher & IDMC Soul & Gospel Choir, will be featured along with the Nostalgia Steelband, led by Dr Lionel McCalman. It’s a FREE and open event, under a marquee. Hopefully a lovely summer’s day.

Date: Thursday 21st June (Make Music Day)
Time: 1pm – 2pm
Venue: The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

Special Note: If you are staging an event on June 21st, you can be part of Make Music Day UK. Just register your event for global attention at www.makemusicday.co.uk, or if you need further info contact GMIA.

SPIRIT OF WINDRUSH – A NATIONAL SERVICE 

A planning group, made up of church and community leaders, has cooperated to stage a national service at the historical Westminster Abbey. The service will acknowledge Caribbean-heritage people’s contributions to the armed forces, health service, transport, education, sports, religion and more. A Windrush @70 Anniversary Choir will be led by renowned Choir Director, Karen Gibson, and there will be music, hymns, readings and a specially commissioned Psalm for Windrush by Shirley Thompson, MBE. The Most Rev Joel Edwards will preach the keynote sermon. Tickets to the event are FREE, but must be obtained by registering at Eventbrite. Type in Spirit Of Windrush, A Service Of Thanksgiving at www.eventbrite.co.uk.

Date: Friday 22nd June (Windrush Day)
Time: 12noon – 1.00pm
Venue: Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA

WINDRUSH: 70 YEARS OF CHURCH AND MUSIC – CELEBRATING BRITISH GOSPEL

This event is something more organic – led with an appeal. Galvanised and motivated by us, for us, a major END-OF-YEAR event that is beyond what any single person or organisation can do by themselves. Something that needs ALL OF US to achieve, that we can ALL JOIN IN to GIVE GOD ALL THE GLORY that’s due to Him. An event which celebrates and highlights our WINDRUSH GENERATION: 70 Years On – the Church and Music.

So far, I’ve had tremendous response to the idea. And, with your help, together we can do something very special. Here is the vision: 3 Cities • 3 Church Locations • 1 Event – connected by audio visuals and live streaming to an online audience. At each venue, we are with our elders, faith and civic leaders and personalities, every type of artist and music ministers… the greatest union and reunion we can pull together. Taking a line from Volney Morgan and NewYe song: “After all I’ve been through, I’m gonna lift my hands in praise…”

Date: Saturday 24th November 2018
Time: 6.00pm

The venues confirmed are:

Ruach City Church, Brixton, London SW2 1RS

New Testament Church Of God, Handsworth, Birmingham B19 1NP

Church Of God Of Prophecy, Moss Side, Manchester M14 4SS

Thank you to Bishop John Francis, Bishop Deverton Douglas and District Superintendent Pastor Daisy Bailey for representing their church leadership cooperation to make this event possible: “When our churches started so many years ago, it was homes and halls that had held parties on the Saturday night. Now we are blessed with sizeable dedicated places of worship that can accommodate a celebration of this kind.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

Firstly, this is a genuine opportunity for us to say a BIG THANK you to our living God, so prayers of praise and thanksgiving are a real important part of the success of this event.

Secondly, we need to honour those past and present individuals, who sacrificed to build what we have today. With your help, we can recognise those individuals by awarding them or, in the case of those who’ve died, their families with a special Certificate Of Recognition, alongside a brief summary of their noted contribution. An online portal will be set up, where everyone can tap into and read each one, wherever in the country they are based. Look out for more details on this.

Thirdly, we need practical and physical help: volunteer administrators, social media operators, copy writers, journalists, photographers, technical crew, stewards and ushers, cleaners, stage and production assistants, ticket team coordinators, transport (cars and vans) to help if necessary those less able or to move equipment.

Fourthly, but not least of all, we need financial support to meet the expenses or essential costs this event will generate. As this is not a profit-making event, we are looking for fundraisers. Perhaps you are a business and would like to sponsor, or someone who would like to donate towards this event.

Remember: This is an active ongoing event. It will only succeed with us working together. Listen out in your local church, social media and printed press for updates. This event will be organised by many people, but to help facilitate a central point of coordination, please write to: info@gmia.org.uk or call 020 3086 8348.

A VISIBLE, ACCESSIBLE AND CONNECTED INDUSTRY

GMIA has launched an app as a platform dedicated to highlight key practitioners, businesses and the collaborative work of those operating in gospel music, as well as all the creative streams that are part of what makes our industry work today. The aim is to make our sector more visible, accessible and connected, and empowers those who are working in the gospel sector to be more easily identified and found by enquirers and researchers alike.

The GMIA app is LIVE, and downloadable on all forms of smartphones and desktops. The app will be continuously updated with information about UK, European, US and other world territories, where gospel music practitioners are located. At this present time, the main operating language is English.

Listing under each section in the app costs £10 for 12 months. Contact info@gmia.org.uk or call 020 3086 8348 for more details.

It’s FREE to download now on your smartphone! Use this link http://m.appbuild.io/wedb4. From 22nd June, the GMIA app will be available on Google Play and Apple Store.

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