Clergy are honouring their heritage and celebrating Black history by wearing a special vestment designed by a renowned artist.
The “cope” – or processional robe – was designed by Terry Duffy and features a photo montage illustrating aspects of black British history since the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948.
It includes the original ‘British citizen’ passport issued to Alford Gardner, a passenger on the ship, and an image of Sam King, another of the ship’s passengers, who later became the first black Mayor of Southwark.
The image of the Jamaican-born Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, is also included.
The photomontage recalls the murder of Stephen Lawrence and alludes to racial discrimination faced by migrants in Britain including the sign ‘No Irish, No blacks, No dogs’ a notice displayed in the windows of some rooms for rent.
The cope was commissioned by the Church of England’s National Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns in 2018 to commemorate the Windrush 70th anniversary.
It has since been available on request to churches and clergy across the country. It was last year, worn by Fr Andrew Moughtin-Mumby for the “National Service” for Windrush Sunday.
Now, the Revd Shavaun Shodeinde, who was made a priest in 2021, wore the cope at the first Mass she presided over at St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common.
“My late Grandfather, who was part of the Windrush generation, came from the West Indies to England,” she said.
“He fostered Christian faith in me and enabled me to witness, through our heritage and ancestry, an example of what it means to be Christ-like.
“I felt it was important for me at my first Mass to represent my journey of coming to faith as I walked towards the fullness of sacramental life, as a priest.”
She said: “Wearing the cope brought me close to honouring my Grandfather – all those memories – I knew he would have been proud of me.”
The “deeply emotional” experience prompted questions from the congregation including about the design.
Revd Shavaun Shodeinde said: “Even though it has personal significance, I am very aware of how important it is in terms of the role it can have in ensuring discussions on racism in the Church continues.”
Adding. “I want to make to make it clear that I would love to see it being worn by other UKME clergy.”
Written By: Sophia Jones