St Paul’s Addlestone continues to celebrate the number of different countries represented in their church congregation. They look to find ways to not only welcome people of all nations but include them in church life.
The diversity in the church is something that has emerged gradually over the past 15 years. Vicar and Associate Vicar, Ben and Chris Beecroft, have noticed a greater growth in the past five years, with 15 nations now represented.
Chris says, “With this growing diversity, we have sought to encourage people to use their gifts to serve in the church. This can be seen in various areas of church life, such as within our current PCC. We have members from Nigeria, Ghana, the UK, Zimbabwe, South Africa and India. And also, in our worship band, we have people from India, South Africa, Nigeria and the UK.
"The truth that Christ died for all people of all nations is something to our hearts and acts as an inspiration and motivation for St Paul’s.
“Christ should be made known to all” continues Chris, “and we have been encouraged that many people from different countries have joined in with our Alpha courses. The meals in particular have been a wonderful opportunity to get to know all our guests more in an informal environment.”
Ben shares, “In the last few years we have had a number of Church events that have been open to all:
- Church BBQ
- Pesach Meal
- Vicarage afternoon tea parties
- Jubilee Garden party with food and games
- Informal picnic lunches for families with kids”
A highlight in St Paul’s church calendar is their International Evening when members of the church bring home-cooked food and wear their cultural dress. Their latest evening took place this Saturday (18 November), some photos of which you can see below.
“We have recognised leadership potential amongst our widening and diverse congregation. Recently two of our members were accepted to train on our brand new Diocesan Lay Associate Ministers Programme, Dinakar from India and Lade from Nigeria, which is hugely exciting.” Ben adds.
Dinakar, his wife Diana and their daughters moved from India to the UK in the early 2000s to work for the NHS. When they first moved to Addlestone they were travelling to Southall London every week for church, which was getting harder every week.
“We attended St Paul’s almost a year after we moved to Addlestone. We were pleasantly surprised by how similar it was to our home church in India. We were warmly welcomed, and we felt blessed after attending the service.
“We fitted in right away. I joined the worship band and now as a family, we attend the church regularly. The girls have attended the Kids Church and are also a part of the worship band. We love the fact that our church has members from 15 different nationalities who integrate and worship the Lord in unison in spite of our cultural differences. We are part of the community, thanks to St Paul’s.”
Lade and her family joined St Paul's in 2017.
“We were made to feel very welcome by Reverends Ben and Chris and indeed the entire church congregation.
“At St Paul's Church, cultural diversity is celebrated and all are made to feel welcome irrespective of tribe or tongue. I have had the joy of introducing the church family to some Nigerian delicacies like jollof rice, fried plantain and suya. I have also enjoyed homemade meals made by members from other countries.”
“There is something about this greater diversity at St Paul’s, which is both beautiful and strong.” Chris concludes: “Beautiful because it points to the love of God for all people of All Nations. And strong, because as a church we are stronger together, where there is a depth of experience and a richness of backgrounds in the church. We meet because of our love of God and love of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We hope that St Paul’s continues to grow in diversity into the future!”