Church leaders be part of the voices towards racism

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Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England, who have come together to support the Black Lives Matter movement, said it was time to "own" and "reverse" the white privilege within the Church as in other parts of society.

The new mood was sparked by protests in the United States against the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minnesota two weeks ago. Derek Chauvin, a white cop who knelt on Mr. Floyd's neck for an eight-minute and 46-second autopsy, appeared in court on Tuesday for the first time and was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Demonstrations led by the Black Lives Matter campaign group have spread around the world. In cities across the UK, thousands of people have opposed socially distant measures to promote racial justice. The protests in Britain were largely peaceful, although some clashes with the police were reported in London.

On Tuesday evening, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a video posted on social media: “I have been impressed with the impact of the past few days and have listened to those who have spoken about it within their own experience of injustice as people living in this country arrived. It is terrible.

“But I am also aware that the Church has its own mistakes, and I come back to the fact that Jesus said in the New Testament: 'Be angry with injustice. Repent of injustice. “That means going the other way and fighting injustice. . .

“It must never involve creating more injustice by trying to harm other people. But today I feel again the great call of Jesus that we, as the church, are the ones who put our own house in order and recognize our own historical mistakes and omissions. As a person, I acknowledge that as a white person in this country I come from privileges and a place of power. "

Several bishops have expressed their support for the demonstrations on social media, in articles, or by organizing their own smaller demonstrations. Many have approved the episcopal bishops in the United States, who said that Mr. Floyd's death highlighted "deep racial injustices" in society (News, June 5).

Rev. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, wrote on the Church Times website this week that it was time to take possession of the white privilege and "regret" it. “I have never been able to completely eradicate those thoughts and feelings of gentle and calm superiority in my head. . . This includes the silent assertion that we are not as bad in the UK as they are in the US when it comes to racism. I hate when these thoughts come up. I scold her. . .

"But if I and everyone who has experienced this quiet privilege does not recognize it, claim it, regret it and commit us to change, then this is a recent new awakening to the reality of racism and the need for change, both structural and personal ones will pass away, just as those who came before have passed. "

The Bishop of Leicester, Rt. Rev. Martyn Snow; the Bishop of Coventry, Dr. Christopher Cocksworth; and Warwick Bishop Rt. Rev. John Stroyan were among the bishops and clergymen who "kneeled" on Monday for eight minutes and 46 seconds to support the protests.

The Archbishop of York, Dr. Sentamu, who retired on Monday, said last week that if he had not screened, he would have attended a mass demonstration in his diocese.

PAOn Tuesday, workers take a statue of slave owner Robert Milligan from West India Quay in east London

Since Monday, for the first time in more than 25 years, there has been no black, Asian, or ethnic-ethnic (BAME) diocesan bishop serving the Church of England. The ministry's latest statistics (2018, published 2019) show that only 3.9 percent of the 7700 clergymen in the C of E come from BAME. This number has increased by a fraction of a percent since 2012. Of the 330 ordinates who will begin their training in 2018, 7.9 percent have been identified as BAME.

Last week, a candidate for ordination, Augustine Tanner-Ihm, posted an email on Twitter and Facebook that he had received from an ordinance director in the diocese, and declined his application for a diocese title due to the population of the parish.

It says: “We are not sure whether there is sufficient agreement between you and the special requirements of the position. First, the community's population is a monochrome white working class that you may feel uncomfortable with. . . ”

Theology Slam finalist Mr. Tanner-Ihm told the Church Times podcast this week: “I was adopted later in life. My parents are white, my brothers are white. . . The community where I grew up outside of Chicago is largely a white working class. I lived in Liverpool, white working class; and part of east London that was white working class. . . So if (in the email) it said: "You will be with middle-class black people", that would actually be a cultural difference in experience.

"If someone is looking for an ordination in the Church of England and is BAME, you understand that you will probably be in a purely white community because the majority of the country is white. I found it really funny that it was mentioned at all . "

Catherine Nancekievill, who served primarily as the Discipleship and Appointment Leader for the Archbishop's Council from 2015 to January 2020, said of the exchange: “Racism was obvious, but to heap injustice, Augustine one of the ministry departments was a great supporter of BAME professions . "

This week, on the Church Times website, she wrote: “I heard a lot of stories about racism and bias when I worked in the Department of the Ministry. People didn't want to speak publicly or make a complaint. There is no formal appointment procedure for a BAP result (episcopal advisory board, who can proceed for the ordination training). . . You can complain, but at first there is a risk that you will be classified as a troublemaker. "

Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN) chairman, Canon Chigor Chike, said on Tuesday: “As has been admitted, there is systemic racism in the Church of England. Just as the demonstrators in America and around the world point out, it is time for the Church of England, especially the bishops, to stop talking and start acting if they really want to see change. "

He suggested that each bishop ask when the last ethnic minority appointment was made to the team or when BAME people were included in an interview panel. "If it's not okay to have a purely male interview panel these days, why does anyone think it's okay to have a purely white panel?"

The department's numbers are not surprising, he said. “Systemic problems exist in the selection, training and ministry of the Church of England ministers. . . How do people feel when they meet on different Church of England committees and bodies and are just white people in the room? You shouldn't be comfortable, and especially the bishops should have a plan to change that. . . It is time to take action, not more words. "

The dean from ManchesterVery Rev. Rogers Govender, Chairman of the Committee on Ethnic Anglican Minorities, agreed that "urgent and immediate action" is needed to combat underrepresentation at all levels of the Church. He also suggested that "a massive escalation of BAME executives" and "modules on the history of blacks, including the effects of the evil of slavery" were needed in all training institutions.

“We need a national re-education program on slavery that promotes racism, since black life was and is seen as cheap and commodity. We need a national introduction of a racial awareness program in every diocese at both the spiritual and parochial levels (and) to ensure that racist stereotypes are prohibited in all ordinance selection and appointment processes and ordinances and other appointments. "

PAPolice escorted George Floyd's hearse from his funeral to the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston on Tuesday to a city cemetery. Read more at

A new book, Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England, by A.D. Frances is slated to be published by SCM Press at the end of next month. Rev. Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, who supported peaceful protests in her own city and the overthrow of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston, wrote on Twitter that she would recommend the book to clergymen.

Rev. Rob Wickham, Bishop of Edmonton, Rt. Rev. Rob Church wrote on the Church Times website: “We could be silent and see this as someone else's problem (possibly the church with the black majority). We could put our heads in the sand because the effects of the events of the past few weeks are too terrible to endure. We might feel threatened to say something wrong and prefer a pillow of silence.

“But silence affects the (re) exposed structural racism. It is only right that white clergymen speak up, especially if we strengthen the voices of those who are personally affected and use our privilege to tell the stories of others. "

The Anglican Mission Agency USPG has published an open letter in support of the BLM movement. “Racism, whether it leads to murderous violence or manifests itself in everyday acts of discrimination and prejudice, is hideous, offensive to God and a denial of our common humanity.

"As leaders of Anglican Mission Agencies working in partnership with churches in the UK and across the Anglican community, we stand in solidarity with the phrase" Black Lives Matter ". While we reject violence of any kind, we renew our commitment to speak out against all forms of racism and to defend ourselves against it. "

It continues: “We recognize the ubiquitous and systemic reality of racism in ourselves, our communities and the structures of British society. We recognize that racism has deep historical roots that shape our institutions, the practices of our communities, and the attitudes of individuals and societies. The horrific treatment of members of the windrush generation in recent years is just a monstrous example. "

Read more about the story in our comment section and in Andrew Brown's press column

Listen to the full interview with Augustine Tanner-Him on the Church Times podcast

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