Pastor Brendon Munro spoke at the 40th commemoration of the Battle of Wood Green on 23rd April 2017. Here is the speech that he delivered on behalf of the Church in Haringey.
With over 200 languages spoken, English a second language for more than half our children, and dozens upon dozens of cultures, nationalities and ethnicities combining to make Haringey such a breath-taking kaleidoscope of life – it’s not surprising to learn that our fabulous borough has for many years been officially the most ethnically diverse place in Europe.
But such unity in diversity didn’t come easily, and all of us living here today can be thankful to the many, from all walks of life in Haringey, who stood against such destructive attitudes of exclusion, discrimination and racism to build a better Haringey.
I have been a church minister in this borough for 28 years and I’m here today as a representative of churches in Haringey to commend the progress that has been made. Not too long ago, I was at a conference in Berlin where many church based agencies working amongst refugees and asylum seekers all across Europe, spoke of Haringey’s far flung reputation amongst the disadvantaged and disenfranchised, as a place of warm welcome and acceptance. I was humbled and proud to be associated with such a place.
The church, I believe, has played a significant role in working for and building a peaceful, harmonious, tolerant and cohesive community in Haringey. There is a moral foundation to our love and service for we are driven by the belief that God loves and values every person equally, and so in all we do, we try to express that love in service to all people without discrimination or partiality. And because we believe God created us in His image, so we believe every person is invested with dignity and deserves respect. Our ethnic diversity is a celebration of God’s special creation – you cannot have unity without diversity.
The churches in Haringey are at the forefront of creating community cohesion. In my congregation alone there are upwards of 30 nationalities represented and we work together to bless our local community. The same is repeated across the borough – dozens of congregations, hundreds of nationalities, thousands of Christians – working in unity to serve the community.
Besides praying daily for the institutions of our society and the safety and wellbeing of every citizen of our borough, we also serve by providing everything from counselling services to homeless shelters, foodbanks to English language classes, after school clubs to youth clubs.
On behalf of the churches in Haringey, may the Lord bless us, may His face continue to shine upon us, and may we bring honour to Him by expressing love, support and service to every member of our community.