Tears were shed during a service where a church minister publicly apologised to a member of the Windrush Generation who, 65 years ago, was told not to come back after attending a service at St Paul’s in Clapham, south London.
Pentecostal minister The Revd Carmel Jones, then a 17-year-old boy recently arrived from Jamaica, went to the local Anglican Church. At the end of the service on his third visit to the church, the minister thanked him for coming – but asked him not to return.
When the current vicar of St Paul’s, Jonathan Boardman, heard what happened he decided to publicly apologise for the racism Jones experienced 65 years ago.
Mr Boardman said he was glad he was able to publicly apologise to Mr Jones and hear his views on the incident that occurred 65 years ago.
Carmel Jones founded the Pentecostal Credit Union which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary. In a letter from Justin Welby in connection with that anniversary, the Archbishop had apologised for the historic acts of discrimination experienced by The Revd Carmel Jones and others. Mr Jones comments were read out by his daughter Elaine Bowes: ‘This letter represents a heartfelt expression of support for the Pentecostal Credit Union and a sincere apology for the historic racism perpetrated by the Church of England.
‘I am deeply moved by this desire for absolution. I wholly accept this apology reflecting the grace and sincere spirit with which it is offered. And I conclude with Proverbs 17:9 – Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends’.
St Paul’s is a church that, historically, has played a major part in the fight against social injustice. It is a stone’s throw away from sister church Holy Trinity, Clapham which is most famously associated with William Wilberforce and The Clapham Sect. This group of Church of England social reformers campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade. They lived around Clapham Common and worshipped in both the churches.
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Photograph: The Revd Jones’ daughter, Elaine Bowes, reading her father’s words