This summer, many CTE Member Churches spoke out against racial injustice and committed to stand against racism in all its forms, following the brutal murder of George Floyd in the United States. As churches and ecumenical officers gathered online for CTE’s October 2020 Enabling Group, their attention turned again to this important issue…
CTE’s Enabling Group is a twice-yearly meeting bringing together representatives of CTE’s 50 national Member Churches, as well as Bodies in Association and County Ecumenical Officers from regions across England. This year’s autumn meeting took place from 22 to 23 October, gathering online for the first time due to coronavirus restrictions.
The session on racial justice at the Enabling Group began with the video below, sharing a series of heartfelt personal reflections on racism. These reflections were shared by representatives of CTE’s 50 Member Churches, including Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Church of England, Quaker and Orthodox traditions.
Time for action
The Enabling Group heard how the churches concern for racial justice is being carried forward at different levels, including by CTE’s Presidents in their public statements and ongoing conversations, following a period of listening to black young people, senior church leaders and community practitioners.
The Enabling Group also heard about the new Racial Justice Working Group which CTE trustees are in process of setting up. This will bring together racial justice representatives from across the churches, along with CTE trustees, a representative from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), and others with specialist skills and knowledge. The aims of the group include supporting churches in their work in racial justice – including tackling racial injustice within their own structures – and enabling national initiatives and policies to be embraced by churches together at intermediate and local levels.
County Ecumenical Officers (CEOs) also shared how they have begun discussing the issue of racial justice together, including a first awareness-raising session, due to be followed up with a second discussion about possible future actions.
CTBI’s racial justice work
Recognising the important work that CTBI continues to undertake in this area, Richard Reddie, CTBI’s Director of Justice and Inclusion, shared an overview of past, present and future work on racial justice.
Past work includes:
- The British Council of Churches’ Community and Race Relations Unit
- 1990 – a move to the Churches Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), who launched Racial Justice Sunday and the Racial Justice Fund
- 2006/7 – a move to the Churches Racial Justice Network, with work including the PEERS Project, emerging out of an initiative with Neville Lawrence and the McPherson Report to support young Black people in community-based projects
CTBI’s current work in this area includes Racial Justice Sunday (the second Sunday in February), the hosting of roundtables, talks and webinars, and the production of books and other resources. Their future plans include the creation of a racial justice theology think tank to provide legal, pastoral, psychological support to those in our churches and society impacted by institutional racism, resourcing the churches on racial justice, and advocating with Black Christians to the government.
Thanks for CTE’s Joe Aldred
Recognising the significant work already undertaken to encourage and enable black-majority churches to play their full part in UK church life, heartfelt appreciation was offered to Joe Aldred, CTE’s long-serving staff member for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations, who was to retire later in October.