Gracy grew up in South India, in Chennai, and was brought up in a Roman Catholic family and school, where she spent time immersed in the rituals and traditions of religion but never read the Bible herself.
As someone from a UKME background, Gracy tells us about her experience of the Church and her faith formation.
Discovering God's word
After completing her first degree in India, Gracey moved to the UK to study a Masters and later a PhD in London, followed by post-doctoral work in Oxford. After living in America for several years, she has been living in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire for the past 17 years and worships at St Mary’s Church in Maidenhead with her family.
“Whilst at university in England, I got chatting to someone from a Sikh background, and she told me she was a born again Christian and went to church on a Sunday."
"I was taken aback by this as I had never met anyone from a Sikh background who actually went to church, despite my upbringing in India. This sparked my curiosity and I bought my first Bible shortly after this encounter."
"Almost one of the first times that I looked at this book, I came across the story of Nicodemus in John 3:3, when Jesus explain that he needs to be born again: “Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” At that point I knew that this was something I wanted to experience for myself and my personal journey of discovering and delighting in God’s word began and continues every day.
“Meeting my Sikh friend and other Asians, people I could relate to and looked like me in the UK, was really important in my faith formation, as I could see that Christianity was for me and that I could be part of the body of the Church as an Asian woman.
“As part of my faith journey, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my identity in Christ. Although I felt very secure in my identity as a Christian Tamil, I was acutely aware that, even in large churches, there weren’t many people who looked like me, so I often felt a sense of separation and the need to conform. Knowing Christ and my identity in Him has helped me to overcome some of this. I realised that we have a common thread that connects us all. We are similar but we are different. Our cultures, backgrounds, races and languages are diverse, and this is something to be celebrated. We come to Jesus, accepted as we are.”
Community and connection
Gracy shares why intercultural church is important for everyone and how churches can do more to engage with the UKME community:
“When I first started worshipping at St Mary’s, there were initially only two or three people who were UKME, and we lacked a feeling of community and connection. Slowly this number has risen, and we now have a strong sense of community and companionship among us as well as with the rest of the congregation.
“When I read the Bible, my Asian background brings a different perspective. To be able to fully understand something and be enriched by it, we need to see all perspectives. Through different eyes, I learn from others, and they learn from me.”
“The Church is a space for everyone, of all backgrounds, races and cultures and a space where all can express their identities in Christ. We need to highlight and improve the diversity in our congregations, including those leading our services, to learn from each other’s cultures and see ourselves how God sees us – as one people under Christ."
Race Equality Week
This year we are marking Race Equality Week (7-13 February) for the first time in the diocese. The week aims to raise awareness of racial equality and inspire ongoing action across workplaces in the country. As a diocese, we are using the week to highlight the action we are taking to improve race equality and set new #ActionNotJustWords pledges to continue improving race equality in all areas of our mission and ministry.
Listen and watch pledges from around the diocese and read more on the Race Equality Week page.