Church hands out sweets to shoppers in effort to tackle post-Brexit tension
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 July 2016
Members of one church took to the street to spread a message of unity in the wake of increasing incidents of hate crime following last month’s EU referendum.
Six members of St Laurence Church, Donington Avenue, Barkingside, spent an afternoon handing out sweets and cards outside Aldi in Horns Road, reassuring people they were welcome in Barkingside.
The cards read: “We love Barkingside. We know that there has been tension following the referendum.
“We are glad that people from all over the world are in this community. All are welcome at St Laurence Church.”
Vicar, the Rev Chris Burrows, was touched by the response of the hundreds of residents members spoke with over the course of the afternoon last week.
He said: “One that really touched me was a Muslim man. If I had to guess I would say he was an Imam.
“We talked about the atmosphere and then prayed with each other and he turned to me and said, ‘May God’s peace rest upon you,’ which I thought was a beautiful moment across faiths.”
However, Mr Burrows was adamant his church’s actions were not in any way a criticism of the vote to leave the EU on June 23.
He said: “I know for a fact there are members of my church that voted in and out.
“We weren’t trying to say ‘the result went the wrong way’, but I think we were all surprised by the spirit of racism it unleashed and we just wanted to spread a message of peace.”
The vicar also revealed the group had spontaneously decided to spread the message of unity that morning.
After originally planning to hand out flowers outside the supermarket, they decided sweets would be easier to get hold of quickly.
The narrow time span did create its own set of problems however.
“It felt a bit like a task on The Apprentice at times,” he said.
“I and a member of the church were still sitting debating the wording of the cards at 3pm, when we’d already arranged to meet at 3.30pm.
“I think I pressed print at 3.10pm, so it was all a little bit of a rush.”
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