Until Revd Francis Ackroyd of initiated a Good Friday Walk of Witness in the borough of Redbridge through Ilford Town Centre, local people were bereft
of any outdoor event to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice.
The event is now in it’s seventh year and is a sombre procession with several stops outside Churches and also important council buildings and our central
Police stations, where prayers are said for God’s protection of these establishments and for his guiding influence over their decisions and processes.
This year for the first time ever a Pakistani Christian spoke at this wonderful well established event, which is run by the Ilford Town Centre Churches
group. Yes you guessed it…Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association.
Mr Chowdhry was asked to pray outside Lynton House which is our Social Services headquarters. His prayer focused on seeking God’s guidance over
our local and national Government to ensure the most deprived in our communities receive necessary aid.
Mr Chowdhry has provided a buskers mic for the event each year for the last 3 years and has attended every event since the second year. Our own
Easter Parade and concert was inspired by the ground-breaking efforts of Revd Ackroyd. We even sought Revd Ackroyd’s permission before initiating our
own Easter Parade in conjuncton with local churches and Revd Ackroyd has always helped promote the event, and has spoken at most of them.
The reason we felt the need for Easter Parade was the very sombre nature of the Good Friday walk, whereas our Easter celebration encompasses all the
joy that Christ’s resurrection brings. Together the two events compliment each other and have ensured the borough is prayed for and that our
diverse community has received the Gospel. They have also had a unifying effect on the many Christian Churches in the borough bringing, Anglican,
Pentecostal, Methodist, United Reform, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholic, Baptist, Indian, Tamil and Pakistani Christians together.
Revd Francis will be retiring in October this year but his legacy is set to remain and continue after him. His pioneering efforts mean that when he
retires he will be sorely missed, especially by the BPCA who have worked with him for so long.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“It was such a privilege to be asked to pray at the last Good Friday Walk of Witness presided over by Revd Ackroyd.
“I have learnt so much from a man who used his years in Redbridge to galvanize unity amongst the diverse Christian denominations, a work that should never be forgotten.
“As Chairman of the Ilford Town Churches together group Revd Ackroyd has ensured all subscribed churches are kept abreast of policies, promotions, laws and events that impact on local Christians.
“He will leave our borough’s Christian organizations in a semblance of unity that many never thought possible. I wish him all God’s blessings during his much deserved retirement.”
Wilson leads prayer before a gathering of 100 Christians while the Deputy Mayor of Redbridge joins us.