Church called to engage with racial justice on George Floyd anniversary

(Photo: Unsplash/Clay Banks)

An ecumenical Christian group is calling on the Church to engage practically with the issue of racial justice. 

The call from the Racial Justice Advocacy Forum (RJAF) coincides with the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, and follows the recent publication of the Sewell Report, which denied the existence of institutional racism in Britain today. 

Rev Wale Hudson-Roberts, Justice Enabler at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said, "Although there are some helpful recommendations in the Sewell Report, the report's denial of institutional racism does not reflect the lived experiences of many black and brown people.

"Institutional racism has impacted the lives of far too many black and brown people. It is a matter needing to be addressed with some urgency, not denied."

In response to the Sewell Report, the RJAF has produced a document offering practical guidance to churches in their pursuit of racial justice in both the Church and wider society.

Among the recommendations is the suggestion that churches reflect on their own complicity in racism as religious institutions. 

This should involve engaging in their own research, both locally and denominationally, in order to better understand ethnic groups in modern Britain, their lived experiences, and the role that Christianity plays in their life choices. 

Churches are called to develop a more rigorous theological response to racial injustice, and consider offering training for both lay and clergy, while Christian schools are encouraged to broaden their curriculum to include contributions from Britain's Christian ethnic minority communities. 

There should also be clear procedures in place for dealing with racial discrimination within churches and Christian institutions, the report suggests. 

"Is our service to one another and the wider community affected by the discrimination and prejudice that impact the ability of a person to thrive in leadership? Counselling? Teaching? Discipleship? Liturgy?" said Eleasah Louis, RJAF researcher and resource developer.