The History of Black Worship in Reading

This series of recordings is part of a research project that took place with funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government in 2021.

The purpose was to learn more about the importance that religion has played in the lives of members of the Windrush Generation in Reading.

Featuring followers of a variety of Christian denominations, each film demonstrates the powerful role of faith in these communities and how it continues to bring people together.

Our thanks to Shirley Anstis, a published Reading-based author and historian, for providing these films.

Introductory message

As part of the Windrush celebrations in 2021, the Reading Windrush Consortium Group held a thanks and praise service and social event. After the event, we caught up with attendees to ask them to reflect on the history of Black Worship in Reading. Pastor Josh Wilson, Yvonne Yew, Juna Virgo and Gloria Kerr share their stories in conversation with Shirley Anstis.

Pastor Josh Wilson and Yvonne Yew were born in Reading where their parents/grandparents started churches. Pastor Wilson leads a family church in Reading called Spiritual Care UK. Juna Virgo and Gloria Kerr are part of the Windrush generation who moved to Reading as young people and have worshiped at many churches since.

To include more memories of worship in Reading Shirley Anstis also spoke to Reverend Polly Falconer, Bishop Joel Thomas, Dr. Gifford Rhamie and Mr. Small. Reverend Polly has a vast amount of community, mental health and media experience and is now the UK Minority Ethnic Development Enabler in the Diocese of Oxford. Bishop Thomas leads the global Church of God Worldwide Mission from The Deliverance Centre otherwise known as The Globe. Dr. Rhamie has been a Minister in the Adventist church and is now a senior religious lecturer at Newbold College of Higher Education in Bracknell. Mr. Small has been a lay member of the Methodist leadership in Reading for decades and speaks reflectively.

Latterly, Shirley Anstis spoke to Nikki Pearson and Grace Browne about their experiences of church but also their memories of Mother Walker. Many conversations pointed to Mother Walker and her husband as the pioneers whose early actions led to the growth of Black led churches in Reading, particularly The Globe.

We hope these conversations nourish you and help you to reflect on your own journey of church worship.

- Reading Windrush Consortium Group

Remembering Mother Walker, with Grace Browne

Remembering Mother Walker, with Nikki Pearson

Dr Gifford Rhamie

Gloria Kerr

Peter Small

Pastor Josh Wilson

Bishop Joel Thomas

Reverend Polly Falconer

Yvonne Yew

Juna Virgo

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