A showcase of some of the material contained in the Vanley Burke Archive.
Photograph: "Austin Road Pentecostal Church. The two ladies kiss each other as a sign of peace after they had washed each other's feet." (Vanley Burke)
Church plays a huge role in the lives of many in the black community. While a lot of black people worship in the traditional denominations such as the Church of England, or the Methodist churches, there are many churches that have been set up and are attended by predominantly or exclusively African and African Caribbean communities.
In the 1950s the amount of people emigrating into Britain and Birmingham from the Caribbean increased immensely, and the people brought with them their expectations of being able to worship in Britain as they had in the Caribbean. There were incidents of ‘white flight’ however when some of the new arrivals tried to attend the established local churches and they found that black faces at some churches were not welcome.
This situation combined with the continuing establishment and development of communities led to the setting up of black-led churches. Churches like the Church of God of Prophecy, for example, made links between communities in Britain and communities back in the Caribbean and African countries.
Churches provide a community venue for concerts, workshops, special commemorative services, meetings about issues affecting the community and social events among other events.
Many of the black-led churches in Britain, especially away from the traditional churches (for example church of England), have as a main part of their worship the duty to evangelize and spread their church’s mission. There are annual Crusades, for example, in which members of the congregation go out into the city and promote the church’s message. The images in this section are of members of the Austin Road Church of God of Prophecy, Handsworth Birmingham, or are of material that has been produced by that church. The images show the central role women congregation members play in the church.
The church plays such an integral part in the lives of its congregation that people can be said to grow up within the church, some of them eventually becoming lay preachers, members of the choir, missionaries and active and committed members of the congregation. The churches often offer Sunday schools and events specifically aimed at the younger members of the congregation.
The Vanley Burke archive in Birmingham City Archive gathers together photographs by Vanley Burke and material he has collected that provide unique and intimate insights into the daily activities of the church, the lives of the congregation and how the churches and their communities feed into and support each other. This selection from Vanley's archive gives an indication of the type of material contained in the collection.
Donor Ref: '
Birmingham City Archives MS 2192/A/A/1/78
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