'...freedom for prisoners...'
One Easter Sunday morning in a south London church a miracle began to unfold. At the start it felt more like an unwanted intrusion. After the service a small cluster waited to see Sylvia the Vicar - a mother and father, their adult son and his fiancée and a teenage son. They spoke little English. It took some persistence to discover they were asylum seekers - Romanies from the Czech Republic, fleeing persecution and living in a hostel nearby. More Pavel Junior and his fiancée Maria wanted to get married in church. Could that be arranged? They had little or no money.
It was as preparation for the wedding took place that Sylvia realized a miracle was happening. One person conjured up a band and some entertainers, another a beautiful bouffant wedding dress, someone else a cake. The offers of gifts and of practical help were now unstoppable. Sylvia had come to the parish with the vision of encouraging the development of community and engagement in justice issues. Until now that had not happened.
The wedding was all that the Romany family had dreamed of. More permanent has been the impact on the congregation. Other refugees from eastern Europe have come and found a home there. A community inclusive of all has grown. Connections have been made with their families back home and gifts collected and sent. Through this constant meeting 'with real people and the exchanging of true stories' the small congregation has become informed - politicized. Where previous there was prejudice, there is now understanding and in some cases outrage. Issues to do with asylum have been taken up locally and at national level.
It has not been easy. Change has been required and has happened 'through many small steps away from fear and prejudice'. A miracle!
|© New Way of Being Church 2007|