Since the death of George Floyd in the USA in the Spring of 2020, leaders of Christian Churches and organisations across Birmingham have been meeting regularly via Zoom to address issues of racial injustice both in the Church and in society. The group, which comprises senior leaders from the city’s historic, Black Majority and new Churches, took the name ‘Time4Change.’
The result of prayer and conversation in many early morning meetings through the summer and autumn is a Time4Change Charter, which calls for reflection, repentance, prayer, relationship-building and the development of a strategy to redress the racial imbalances within the Church and community.
The leaders backing the Charter include the Rt Revd David Urquhart (Bishop of Birmingham), Bishop Deverton Douglas (New Testament Church of God), Pastor Mark Ryan (Birmingham City Church), Pastors Calvin and Pauline Young (Mount Zion Community Church), Revd Steve Faber (United Reformed Church), Bishop Tedroy Powell (Church of God of Prophecy), Pastor Adrian Hurst (Oasis Church) and Bishop Mike Royal (Apostolic Congress).
The 15 points of the Charter are:
1. We the churches, Christian organisations and followers of Jesus acknowledge the issue of racial injustice and its systemic and institutional nature.
2. We commit to challenge racism confidently across Birmingham and see it removed from the church and society.
3. We commit to an honest and open look at ourselves and our churches and where we are in relation to the issue of racial injustice.
4. We will pray: actively encouraging prayer as a group and within and across our churches and neighbourhoods over the issue of racial injustice and disunity.
5. We repent – we have caused or ignored hurt and we pray for a deep healing in our city.
6. We will engage in conversations – creating the spaces for open, honest and frank dialogue. We will listen to the voices of our black and all ethnic communities, across the generations and the different parts of our city.
7. We commit to relationship-building with church and city leaders, modelling strong supportive relationships across the city. We will build a culture of honour, openness and support within our churches, neighbourhoods and workplaces.
8. We will bridge the knowledge gap, building a shared understanding of what it is like to be black, or of other ethnicity in Birmingham today, understanding the historical context and the damage to their psyche by sustained and systemic racism.
9. We aim for truth, reconciliation and healing through open discussions across the city that understands and acknowledges the hurts of the past and hopes for the future. We will identify actions to bring healing.
10. We will advocate; using our influence and understanding to speak up for racial equality and equity in the church and the city. We will inspire changes in structures and cultures to remove racism. We will engage the city’s civic leaders as they address this issue.
11. We will build and strengthen representative leadership: Creating systems, structures and processes that encourage representative leadership in our churches and organisations. We will actively mentor and encourage young and emerging leaders.
12. We will take practical action, developing short, medium and long term plans to equip the wider church to strengthen unity and collaboration and engage the wider community.
13. We will equip and engage the wider church with material on theology, and key principles around justice, equity and equality, testimonies and events. We will ensure our actions and narratives are centred very clearly on Jesus, rooted firmly in the word of God and inspired by the Spirit.
14. We will communicate and dialogue regularly and clearly, in an engaging and accessible way to ensure the wider church is kept up to date. We will inspire Christians engaged in business, health, education, arts and media and other spheres to be champions for equity, equality and builders of unity.
15. We commit to being a welcoming city, a super-diverse community where all peoples, whatever their background or ethnicity see that God’s people will always provide a home, a community and a generous welcome. We commit to strengthening unity and harmony across the church that we might be one, just as the Father and Son are one.
For more information, visit the Time4Change website.
The next united, online Time4Change public prayer gathering will take place at 7.00pm on Sunday 24 January 2021, when prayer will be offered for the NHS, the business community and the education sector. Watch out on Birmingham Churches Together Facebook page for access details.