We are open to all, says Church of England after complaint

South Asian Christians complain they are not welcome in mainstream churches.

Updated: Jul 01, 2010, 13:16 PM IST

London: Following complaints by South Asian Christians that they are not welcome in mainstream churches, the Church of England has assured the community that steps will be taken to reverse the situation and stressed that they are "open to all".

The church`s response came after the BBC Asian Network broadcast a special show earlier in the week. South Asian Christians said they were being forced to set up language and culture specific churches as the mainstream churches were not entertaining their presence.

Jagdish Singh from Wolverhampton, one of those who unsuccessfully tried to join his local church, told the BBC Asian Network: "They were all staring at me. They seemed to be wondering, `where has this coloured man come from?`

"Afterwards, nobody spoke to me except for the vicar. He was standing at the door, shook my hand and asked me who I was but nobody in the congregation spoke to me."

Krish Kandiah, from the Evangelical Alliance that established the South Asian Forum for all Christian denominations, said: "Sometimes Asian Christians have felt so unwelcome they have set up language specific or culture specific churches. We don`t want them to feel on the outside."

A spokesman for the Church of England told The Guardian on Tuesday that it was doing more to engage with ethnic minority worshippers.

"The Church of England is open to all and it is disappointing to hear that any individual feels they have not been made welcome in any church."

The spokesman said: "Anyone with similar concerns should speak to their local clergy, who will be keen to identify constructive ways of better serving their needs.”

"As an organisation, we are taking a range of steps to encourage and nurture Christians from all ethnic groups, including launching a `fresh expression` of church in Birmingham aimed specifically at Asian Christians, and holding conferences to encourage more minority ethnic priests."

Official figures show that about 7,000 South Asians regularly worship within the Church of England, but this number represents only about 10 percent of the Christian population with origins in the subcontinent who live in Britain.