British Adventist Meets United Kingdom Prime Minister

Enoch Kanagaraj receives thanks from Rishi Sunak for his contribution to his local community.

June Coombs, Trans-European Division
<strong>British Adventist Meets United Kingdom Prime Minister</strong>
Enoch Kanagaraj (left) and the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. [Photo: courtesy of Enoch Kanagaraj]

A British Seventh-day Adventist, Enoch Kanagaraj, has been recognized for the contribution he has made to his church’s local community in Watford, England. He recently was awarded the title of “Community Champion” and traveled to 10 Downing Street in London to meet the country’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on March 23. There, Sunak thanked him personally for his contribution to society.

Each of the 650 members of Britain’s Parliament was asked to nominate an individual who has helped to make a difference to their constituency. Dean Russell, Watford’s Member of Parliament, who is also a trustee of the charity One Vision, nominated Kanagaraj for his vision to tackle the needs of the town’s community. Later he wrote, “On behalf of the people of Watford I would like to thank Enoch for all of the fantastic work that he does through One Vision and its various initiatives. I don’t think there is a day when he is not doing something to help those around him.”

How did these charitable opportunities come about? Kanagaraj said he wonders. It started with knocking on doors in the area surrounding Stanborough Park Adventist church in Watford, when he was part of the Church Community Services (CCS) team. “As the CCS developed,” he said, “we recognized that the community needs were much greater than we could meet by ourselves. We began to connect and meet with other community organizations, charities, and national government leaders, to explore how we could co-operate.”

Kanagaraj added that in 2018, some church members decided to form a charity called One Vision, with the motto “Bringing People Together,” to address the needs of the Watford community.

Soon afterwards the pandemic struck, the country went into lockdown, and One Vision swung into action providing hot meals (here the local Gurdwara from the Sikh community played an important part) and distributing them along with food parcels to schools, isolated people, and those in need. The Stanborough Park church hall served as a distribution center.

Dean Russell (left), Member of Parliament representing Watford, with Enoch Kanagaraj and Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. [Photo: courtesy of Enoch Kanagaraj]

“My idea is to work with everybody, including those with post-COVID mental health issues, and collaborate with statutory bodies such as the police,” Kanagaraj said. But how could One Vision and church groups best support and integrate with the community? According to Kanagaraj, “By finding a different way of doing things.”

Since One Vision was founded, many local initiatives have been set up, including a partnership with the local health authority to help with loneliness and mental health issues. Also, a Youth Council was established for the town’s youth, to enable them to share their views with the mayor.

So, on March 23, Kanagaraj found himself in a group of six Community Champions and their MPs, attending a reception at 10 Downing Street. Kanagaraj said that Sunak was aware of the good work One Vision has been doing and thanked him for his efforts to help the local community.

“I am humbled and honored to be nominated as a Community Champion,” Kanagaraj said. “I am proud to represent the people of Watford.”

Kunagaraj has never been afraid to share his faith and that he is an Adventist, and attributes his success to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Summing up the events behind it and the fact that the One Vision charity is going “from strength to strength,” he said, “I find it all beyond my cognitive imagination … unexpected.”The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.

June Coombs, Trans-European Division