Members of Bethnal Green Meeting House, a United Reformed Church in East London, have just unveiled a new mural for the side of their church. The work was painted by Penny Bearman and Lucy Somers, a mother and daughter team of community artists.
The Revd Lucy Berry, minister of Bethnal Green Meeting House, said: “The church was extensively bomb-damaged during the war – and then subject to an unsympathetic post-war refurbishment – and, as a result it has been “invisible” for decades. We don't, from the outside, look like a church. People don't know that inside we have a little, loving, multicultural and varied congregation.
“Over the past three years the church has been trying to think about what its mission to Bethnal Green should be. Part of the congregation's strength resides in its diversity. There is a lot of happiness in the relationships we share here, but we're also aware of the hardships faced by many in this community. People from Rwanda and from South America have made us more able to witness to tragedy and to resurrection – and it’s all around us in Bethnal Green.
“So, though outreach is also part of the plan, we need firstly to be visible; the mural expresses what we want to say about ourselves: the symbols to the side represent the explicit Christian things we want to say: communion, peace, justice, racial harmony. The golden, mixed-heritage woman expresses some of the things which a good church should stand for – but which are harder to put plausibly into words: belonging, mix, acceptance, spirituality, fun, compassion, safety.”
Ms Berry concluded: “We're not perfect and we never will be, but that doesn't stop us wanting to try. The mural is part of that: letting people of every age, faith, background, experience, orientation and colour know that we are here – and that we’re open and that we are happy to see them. We’re utterly committed to radical welcome and we want our commitment to that welcome to be crystal clear – we want it to be the writing on the wall.”