One of my photos

Crawley: global village?

May 12th, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

The day was already a strange one – no football at all and no Dr. Who – so me going to church just made it all the stranger.

Yesterday I had a little note tacked onto a meeting notice for the CCAR committee, saying that there was a ‘Multi-cultural celebration’ at Christ the Lord church in Broadfield and CCAR committee members were invited. No more information than that. The Broadfield church is shared between the Anglicans, the Catholics and the Free Church so it could have been organised by any or all of them.

It turned out to be a Roman Catholic event, part of a series of special events they are holding this month, but turned out not to be too church-y. It started with a song sung first in English, then French, Portugese, Japanese (I think), Spanish and Irish, then there was a short reading, a song in Japanese and a couple of songs from a quite impressive Mauritian choir.

Afterwards everyone went into the main hall of the community centre where there was a sort of global village. All around teh edges of the hall were stalls, each themed for a country with some information about that country and food from it. Unfortunately I had filledup on bacon and tomato sandwiches before going out so didn’t feel like anything else, but there was food from England, Ireland, Jamaica, India, Gambia, Poland, Germany/Zimbabwe, Austria, Italy, Japan, Nigeria and lots of other places. Local playgroups had been involved in producing posters, so the event had involved a lot of different people before it even started.

Jayne has been thinking about organising something similar for ages, and now she is back on the council of the community centre she was ready to suggest it again. I hope she does: it was a great display, and the food looked fantastic. Who cares if someone has already done it?

My mind wandered a bit during the event. It often does. When the Mauritian kids were singing I felt quite moved. Their families have come here, not always by choice, and are not totally adopting our culture nor staying apart in their own, but are joining in with an established organisation and adding some of their own flavour to it – and British churches can do with some lively, infectious singing.

Although I’m an atheist myself I have been to my share of church services. The very English ones in the Sussex villages were always very dull and serious. Nobody ever looked like they were happy to be there, they seemed to be there out of social obligation rather than religious feelings – I was as well, but I’m happy to admit it. To be fair, I don’t get the same feeling at the Broadfield Church. Not only does everyone seem to be into it, but they look happy too.

I just thought it was a great example of our own culture being improved by newcomers. No doubt it is exactly the sort of thing the BNP would frown on as it is not harking back to a mythical past but looking forward, but I enjoyed seeing the Mauritians cheering everyone up.

I was also amazed, as I always am, by the sheer diversity of Crawley’s population now. Even within the Catholic church there were Indians and Pakistanis in their national costumes, but belonging to the RCs.

I do not have a very high opinion of religion in principle, but that is judging religions by their leaders and by their bureaucracies and by their wider politics – which is all I see of them most weeks and that is via the media. Whenever I join in with the actual members of local churches it is a different story. Its not their fault that the leaders and career clerics at the higher echelons are protecting kiddie-fiddlers or allowing the spread of AIDS by not relaxing rules on condom use any more than its my fault that my party’s leadership have invaded Iraq, decided to renew Trident or sold weapons to be used in East Timor.

Best of all, nobody at the local churches even thinks of trying to convert me…

Tags: ···

No Comments so far ↓

Like the collective mind of the Daily Mail, comments are closed.