Bishop Jo, Bishop of Dorking wrote this to all Guildford clergy on 18 June.
All lives matter. Of course they do, most obviously because our Creator God has intended, invested and takes interest in each and every one of us. But just at the moment it is vital that we acknowledge how Black Lives Matter — in our words, deeds and imagining. This is not knee-jerk, even though awareness is provoked by recent events that are unequivocally (even or especially if unconsciously) racist. The problem is not confined to particular incidents: if it were it would be much easier to address. The problems are deep-seated: buried in egregious problems of history which continue to shape attitudes in the present and the future. That’s why the need is far-reaching: to revisit our history, understand our assumptions and uncover our biases. We all have them — it’s how we survive in a complex world! But BLM prompts us to discern what they reveal about our power and prejudice in relation to race and ethnicity — what we see and don’t see, what we say and don’t say, what we think and what we don’t even realise — so that we may learn, and be empowered to address the problems, and build a better world. The problems are individual and institutional, and therefore we must address them personally and corporately. That will involve repentance and change, two features that are surely foundational to us as Christians and as a Church, thanks to the transforming love of Christ.I’m eager for this journey. Even though it may be hard and will demand determination, it will be productive and inspiring… because it leads us toward the glorious destiny described in the book of Revelation in which the saints of every tribe and tongue are united in worship around God’s heavenly throne. A magnificent picture of diverse harmony! How are your steps on this journey I wonder? I urge you not to depend on BAME friends or badgering bishops to urge you on your way (though you should expect them/us to do some of that!). Allow this time of lockdown to enable some reading, listening, lamenting. Can you plan some steps — actions — that make sense in your context? And in the spirit of Eph 3:20 I’d invite you to imagine — to dream — what God might wish to address and enable that lies beyond our current capacity and community.
Meanwhile let me propose two small steps for this weekend:
- Watch Reni Eddo-Lodge for 12 minutes talking about her recent book on racism
- Take 2 mins this Monday 22 June on Windrush Day at 11am for lament, remembering the suffering of the Windrush Generation, and praying for a better, fairer world.
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