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Winnie's Impact

Black History Month Student Stories: "I aspire to be a catalyst for transformation."

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I am a Ghanaian British woman who has lived in South London for two and a half decades. I am hospitable, have a deep affection for humanity, and a fervent dedication to addressing injustices. I have spent the past decade in the voluntary sector predominantly working for the Church of England. Additionally, I have been engaged in several activist initiatives, including the Community Land Trust, which aims to implement housing reforms enabling lower-income households to attain affordable homeownership opportunities.

What is your favourite food?

I enjoy cooking a range of dishes, especially African cuisine and I can confidently say I’m good at it, the Jollof stands out though. However, my favourite food would be Banku (a form of dumpling made of corn dough) and Okro Stew with some fish, snails, crab and meat.

What is your favourite quote?

One of my favourite bible quotes is Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” I also love this quote “Courage sometimes skips a whole generation; make sure it doesn't happen to your's. Make your stand & make it now.” ― Mamur Mustapha

Why did you choose to train for ordination at St Mellitus College?

I am a first-year ordinand after completing a year of discernment program on Peter Stream. I chose St. Mellitus because of the warm community and proximity to home. Also, the wonderful people and the support system helped me to understand my calling and identity. I needed to be my own person, serving in ways that matched my unique gifts and talents.

What difference has the College made in your life and in your relationship with God so far?

It has introduced me to a whole range of concepts and philosophical viewpoints that help refine my understanding and presentation of the Gospel. It’s still a work in progress, but I hope to have gained a higher level of confidence and understanding of the theological aspects of the Christian ministry.

What tips or advice do you have for a prospective student?

Enter the gates with an open heart and an open mind.

Being receptive to new experiences, people, and ideas. It's all about fostering a positive and growth-oriented attitude that will not only enhance your academic journey but also enrich your spiritual life as a whole. Embrace the adventure, and you'll find that it’s not just about what you receive but also about what you give and discover along the way.

Who are your Black History role models?

That would be Desmond Tutu. A fearless advocate of the Gospel in Action, and a deeply compassionate human being. His values have served as a template for many other role models I gravitate towards these days, and among those would be Rev Sandra Schloss. She’s currently the Priest in Charge of St Luke’s in Peckham and the Area Dean for Camberwell. Her passion for social justice, primarily youth safety and her courage to address issues that are current in everyday life such as working with people from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds is admirable.

Can you share a personal experience or accomplishment related to Black history that has been particularly meaningful to you?

One significant event in the history of Black people that has had a long-lasting impact is the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The accomplishments and sacrifices made by numerous individuals during this time have paved the way for increased equality and civil rights for Black Americans and Black individuals worldwide. Growing up in Ghana and later immigrating to the UK in my twenties, I did not fully comprehend or appreciate the challenges faced by Black people until then. Having gained an understanding of the difficulties early Black migrants encountered in accessing housing in the UK, such as during the Windrush era, I felt compelled to take action and challenge my social housing landlords to address the negligence that had left our homes in a state of disrepair. The conditions were so severe that mice were able to enter our homes and access our food as if they were co-tenants. Through my activism, the estate underwent a significant renovation that addressed the numerous issues that persisted there. Unfortunately, I moved out of the property before the work could be completed. Nevertheless, I take great satisfaction in knowing that my efforts played a significant role in improving the living conditions for many fellow community members.

How do you believe your education and future ministry plans can play a role in promoting Black history awareness and equality in the church or outside the church in ministry?

As a Black person, I am constantly mindful of the ground-breaking achievements of those who have paved the way for my own opportunities. It is my objective to pay tribute to their legacies by creating a path for future generations to continue making a positive and meaningful impact. In my community, there are a few individuals like myself who are training as Church of England Vicars. Through my education and future plans in ministry, I aspire to be a catalyst for transformation. By incorporating principles of racial equality into both my ministry and personal life, I aim to contribute significantly to advancing equality not only within the church but also in the wider community.

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