Andrew’s story: who am I?

Published on 16 October 2020

The church is a prominent feature of my life and this is true for many who hail from the Caribbean. A symbol of liberty and identity, the church defines who we are and how we learn to love, respect and treat each other.

Black history reminds us of many unmentionable atrocities, some of which we may never learn. There is justifiable cause to be bitter and to hate how we have come to inherit such discrimination. Yet, love prevails, despite such hideous memories. I am Jamaican, the product of an uprooted diaspora of Africans enslaved and stripped of identity. But I am “Black” regardless of my mixed heritage; a rather bizarre mystery.

Nevertheless, from the ashes of enslavement emerged the wonder of multiculturalism. Mixing of cultures and races to include even those who enslaved. I am the conscious product of Africans, Indians, Ameri-Indians and Caucasians. I am “Black” a melting-pot of ethnicity and my story intertwines with hardships endured to create who I am. To trivialise “blackness” suggests a more palatable past betraying my heritage. Yet, the ideology of segregation overcome by love is comforting. Blind to colour, race and creed my identity is in Christ.

There is much said about the church in the context of Black history. There is an existential threat to its future if it neglects its Christian message. Inclusivity, black or otherwise, must be the Church’s culture. Regardless of where we are from or who we are; love, respect and equality are paragons of our Christian faith.

Knowing who we are is a willingness to discover what makes us the same.

The Church has played an immense role in me realising my own identity. At its heart is the message of a relational God whose concern for the heart of humanity knows no bounds. It is also a message of freedom and multiculturalism native to my ethnicity.

This “living” message of the church is what has made it possible for Lowestoft to be home to me and my family. Uprooted and transplanted though we may be; we have the same songs, the same creed, an extended family and the same Father. Do we dare to have an equal voice?

Andrew Timberlake is a Churchwarden at Christ Church in Lowestoft.