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Exploring English Identity 

Exploring English identity 26

A conference exploring English identity has been organised by a Chennai-born Baptist minister who grew up in a Hindu family

The St George's Day Celebration at Swiss Church in London will look at the practical steps the church can take to explore the nature of English, as opposed to British, identity in the 21st century.
Its organiser is the Revd Kumar Rajagopalan, regional minister for racial justice with the London Baptist Association.

Mr Rajagopalan is a first generation immigrant from Chennai India who was brought up as an orthodox Brahmin caste Hindu. He became an atheist when he saw the injustice of caste prejudice, and converted to Christianity at university.

He said people are 'reticent' about discussing English identity, which makes it a justice and inclusion issue. It is therefore important that Christians take a 

'In recent years there have been debates in the media, among politicians and wider society about the nature of British identity, in the midst of which one occasionally hears about English identity,' Mr Rajagopalan said.

 'In my role as regional minister for racial justice with the London Baptist Association I have sought to promote greater inclusion and welcome for people of all ethnicities in London Baptist churches. Within this remit I recognise that there is a need for constructive exploration regarding the natur
e of English identity in the 21st century.
Exploring English identity 26
'While fringe elements are ready to hijack the issue for their own nefarious purposes, most Englishmen and women are reticent to explore their identity.

'Therefore, there is an urgent need for a gracious and open exploration of this long neglected issue, and it is important that Christians give a lead.'

Speakers at the conference Robert Winder and Revd Dr Rosalyn Murphy.A former literary editor of The Independent, Mr Winder is the author of Bloody Foreigners - The Story of Immigration to Britain, and he will explore how past and present immigration shapes English identity.

Dr Murphy is a priest in the Church of England, and she will present a theological exploration on 'National Identity, the Foreigner and Alien.'

The worship will be led Tim Judson and will include English folk songs, and there will also be an opportunity to explore practical steps churches can take to explore English identity.

The conference takes place at Swiss Church, 79 Endell Street, London WC2H 9DY on 23 April 10 - 3.30pm.
To book your place contact norman.kincaid@londonbaptist.org.uk

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