To celebrate the start of black history month, The Chronicle sat down with Pastor Joshua Christopher Wilson, 55, from Tilehurst.

Mr Wilson is a Windrush baby of Jamaican descent who has always lived in Reading. His Mother came to our town when she was 8 and his father arrived ten years later with the British army. His father then became the Pastor of Bethel United Church which Pastor Wilson now runs.

The church now bears the name Spiritual Care. Pastor Wilson said: “The church's name now reflects what it does rather than its apostolic roots. We now want to be more about relationships rather than religion.”

He continued: “If you look at churches, you have black, white, catholic, etc. But these are all different groups of people who think the same. If we all make it to heaven, we will all be the same. The church should have the same mentality.”

The church also runs a local football club under the previous name Bethel United. “The team actually came out of a faith lesson,” Pastor Wilson said. “It was discussed in passing, and one of the boys who didn’t really want to be at church suddenly started engaging.”

The next week, the young man beat Pastor Wilson to church and brought along designs for the club's official kit. This was 20 years ago, and the club has been running ever since. That young man, Jermaine Hamilton, got baptised and went on to become a semi-pro footballer.

The pastor continued: “Coming from the Windrush generation, my parents suffered so I could get an education. I benefitted from that struggle, and I’m passing on that we are privileged but we need to help others.”

Pastor Wilson’s oldest memory was going to nursery and being painfully aware that no one looked like him. “My mum caught me trying to ‘wash the black off’ because they said that I was dirty. She told me I needed to love myself.”

“To prepare me for life, she called me blacky for three months after. It seemed harsh at the time, but I thank her for that now. It made the struggle of feeling ‘other’ easier.”

Pastor Wilson continued: “Nowadays, people just change their language depending on the company they are in. People will get offended for me rather than dealing with the actual issue. I don’t have the white privilege of dipping in and out of the race debate. I live it.”

Pastor Wilson feels privileged to live in the multicultural hub that is Reading. “In my experience, most people are kind. They are aware of the strengths and benefits that difference can bring as well as the dangers when we start to become separate entities.”

He continued: “To build on the message of Martin Luther King, we should be judged on our content of character, not the colour of our skin. Reading has that as a practical default.”