A growing number of churches from the Churches Together in England (CTE) family have spoken out this week, following the death of George Floyd in the United States and protests around the world against racial injustice.
A range of statements from CTE Member Churches are available below, along with statements from CTE Presidents and CTE’s General Secretary.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, one of CTE’s Presidents, released a joint statement with Archbishop of York John Sentamu on Tuesday 2nd June:
Recent events in the United States of America have once again drawn public attention to the ongoing evil of white supremacy. Systemic racism continues to cause incalculable harm across the world. Our hearts weep for the suffering caused – for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear. God’s justice and love for all creation demands that this evil is properly confronted and tackled. Let us be clear: racism is an affront to God. It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated. We all bear the responsibility and must play our part to eliminate this scourge on humanity.
As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “In a real sense, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Therefore, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We pray that God’s abounding wisdom, compassion and love will guide leaders across the world to forge a better society.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also released a video message on social media on 2nd June.
Pastor Agu Irukwu, chair of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) UK and Pentecostal President of Churches Together in England, released a video statement on Wednesday 3 June.
Here Pastor Agu encourages Christians in the UK to pray for others, to share a message of love and forgiveness, to speak out against injustice, to speak into our society here in the United Kingdom – challenging institutional racism – and to encourage more representation of black people and ethnic minorities in the many institutions which influence our everyday lives.
Archbishop Angaelos, CTE’s President for the Orthodox Churches, has also written a reflection including these words: “When we walk alongside those who hurt it must be about them; their pain, their experience, their perception and their reality, and not what we deem it to be. It is about understanding and responding to that pain.“
Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator and President of Churches Together in England, released a statement on Twitter on 3rd June.
Hugh has also released two videos on the issue: Thought for Thursday and an interview with Noel McLean (Churches in Communities Vice President).
General Secretary of Churches Together in England
CTE’s General Secretary, Rev Paul Goodliff, has made the following statement:
“The killing of George Floyd has revealed afresh the depths of racism that remain in our world, and the evils that flourish when it is allowed to go unnoticed. Every black life matters, and every black life is of infinite worth in God’s eyes — and ours too.
The Member Churches of Churches Together in England are committed to fighting racism, to see every human life as of equal value, and to point to the ways in which our society remains unjust and our world unequal.
Whether it is police brutality, or the disproportionate affect of Covid-19 in BAME communities, or the thousands of children who die every day from preventable diseases, we pray that God’s kingdom of justice and peace might come afresh upon the world that God loves so much that He redeemed it through His Son, Jesus Christ, crucified, buried and risen.”
A statement was released by Rev Lynn Green, General Secretary of Baptists Together, on Tuesday 2nd June:
The inhumane and merciless brutality demonstrated towards George Floyd last week was an appalling act of injustice and reveals yet again the ugly reality of deeply ingrained institutional racism in the USA. The authentic response of a people who follow a God who delights in justice and righteousness is to stand together in solidarity and protest in the face of such insidious evil. The death of George Floyd must also drive us to some serious heart-searching of our own. The spotlight is not simply shining on ‘them over there’ but also on us here in our own context. Baptists Together hold a common value; that we are a Movement which shares a hunger for God’s coming Kingdom and seeks to confront evil, injustice and hypocrisy and challenges worldly attitudes to power, wealth, status and security both within and beyond our Union. Right now God is presenting us with the opportunity to grow more deeply into this value and, in doing so, to unleash a prophetic call and presence in our communities and nations.
It is so important that you read carefully and take to heart the articles and reflections that express the angry and frustrated voice of the oppressed and also of those who are in solidarity with them. The time for superficial platitudes and excuses really is well and truly over. My plea is that we seize this moment and take some giant leaps forward in terms of becoming the kind of Kingdom Movement that God is calling us towards – beautiful, just, loving and rejoicing in the richness of the global church and the whole of humanity.
Lynn Green’s statement was accompanied by a series of reflections on the Baptists Together website from Baptist leaders including Justice Enabler Wale Hudson-Roberts, (interim) Public Issues Enabler Steve Tinning, and Baptist Union President Yinka Oyekan.
Quakers in Britain
Quakers in Britain (the Religious Society of Friends) has spoken out on social media:
“There can be no peace without justice; no love without trust; and no unity without equality.” In 2017 British Quakers made this statement. We reaffirm our commitment to bearing witness against injustice and the right of citizens to hold their govts to account. #BlackLivesMatter
New Testament Church of God (NTCG)
Dr Donald Bolt, Administrative Bishop and the National Executive Council of the New Testament Church of God (NTCG) has released the following statement:
The New Testament Church of God England & Wales (NTCG) conveys its solidarity with the family and friends mourning the inexcusable loss of life suffered by George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis.
We stand in agreement with Dr Tim Hill, the presiding Bishop of Church of God, who issued statements on behalf of our international church. His statement speaks for each of us as a church of over seven million members and millions of adherents in over 180 countries.
From our own experience here in the UK, our observation of racism, social injustice, social inequality and discriminatory practices are clearly seen as global issues and so we recognise the issues and related concerns as they are currently being demonstrated in the USA.
We are equally cognisant of our Christian obligation to advocate, particularly on behalf of the weak in the interest of our common good.
We are very clear in our belief that governments and institutions must be held to account to deliver policies and processes that are just. To this end we stand ready to support and work with other Christian organisations, other faith groups and those of no faith to advocate for a better future for all.
We support the right to protest but this must be carried out lawfully and peacefully and whilst we understand the build-up of frustration, we cannot condone any violence, looting or criminal activity on the back of any protest. This type of behaviour will set back the cause we are all actively pursuing.
The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Community (BAME) are negatively disproportionately represented in the UK in areas such as mental health, educational achievement, the criminal justice system, employment opportunities, politics and civic leadership to name but a few, and much work is to be done to change individual attitudes and behaviours; institutional policies and procedures that stifle the aspirations and life of the BAME community in the local, national and global contexts.
We are committed to positive, peaceful and just actions that will lead to sustainable change in the plight of the oppressed.
We stand ready to make constructive contributions to efforts to ensure life in abundance for all people in accordance with our reading of Scriptures such as Luke 4:18,19 (NIV): “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
It is our earnest prayer – in words and deeds – that the peace, love, righteousness and justice of God becomes a current reality for all.
The Methodist Church
President of the Methodist Conference, Rev Dr Barbara Glasson, released a personal message on Tuesday 2nd June.
A statement was also released by Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Methodist Conference, on Tuesday 9th June. It, which reads:
The brutal killing of George Floyd, who died at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, has prompted a wave of anger and revulsion around the world. As Christian people, we are appalled that someone could die in such a fashion and appalled also at the continued injustice which many Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people experience in many parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, and in many institutions, including, shamefully, the Methodist Church in Britain.
We therefore welcome and endorse the call of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement for radical action in addressing the causes of this injustice. The Methodist Church in Britain believes that racism is a denial of the gospel. However, we have to recognize that we have not eradicated the problem from our Church, despite the excellent work of many over several decades; in the last year we have redoubled our efforts to do so and are actively working on the implementation of our ‘Inclusive Methodist Church’ strategy which commits to challenging all forms of discrimination and creating a Church where people from every background are welcome and are safe from abuse and discrimination.
Such a Church will celebrate and not be afraid of diversity; it will be disciplined and uncompromising in its refusal to tolerate any form of racism; it will work to encourage the vocation of those from minority groups to serve in positions of senior leadership; and it will be one in which all people can be confident of the welcome that they will receive as they share in worship and ministry with us. We repent of the ways that we have fallen short of that in the past and of our slowness in changing our ways and we continue to look for ways in which we can witness to the all-encompassing love of God and become the transformation that we long to be. ‘Only the Spirit’s power can fit us for this hour’: we pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit, come!’
Catholics Bishops Conference of England and Wales
Two Bishops from the Catholics Bishops Conference of England and Wales – Bishop Declan Lang, Lead Bishop for International Affairs, and Bishop Paul McAleenan, Lead Bishop for Racial Justice – released the following statement on Wednesday 3rd June:
“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the USA as they challenge the evil of racism and the brutal killing of George Floyd. As the US Bishops made clear: “we cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.”
“Systemic racism is embedded in our own society. The disproportionate harm suffered by BAME people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted profound inequalities, marginalisation and injustice here in the UK. The peaceful Black Lives Matter protests taking place in our towns and cities this week reflect the understandable anger that so many people feel about this.
“As Catholics we recognise that racism is an evil which must be opposed; we all have a responsibility for actively promoting racial justice. Whenever we ignore racism or dismiss BAME people’s experience of it, we are complicit in violations of human dignity. We pray for God’s help to overcome racism in all its forms and that we might protect everyone who suffers its consequences. We are all made in God’s image.”
Moravian Church British Province
The Provincial Board, the Bishops and the Mission & Society Committee of the Moravian Church in the UK have issued the following statement:
‘Over the last two weeks, the death of George Floyd has highlighted the harsh realities of racism and the negative impact that it has had on the lives of countless black people.
‘We abhor his murder and we offer our sincere sympathy to his family. Racism exists in our society and it can often go unrecognised. We are committed to take action to challenge all forms of racism. Everyone is equal and everyone is created in the image of God but centuries of racism have led to the perception that some lives are valued more than others.
‘We call on all of our brothers and sisters to affirm and uphold one of the key tenets of the Moravian basis of faith that, “We oppose any discrimination in our midst because of race or standing, and we regard it as a commandment of the Lord to bear public witness to this and to demonstrate by word and deed that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.” (Ground of the Unity).’
Independent Methodist Churches
Dorothy Kendrick, President of the Independent Methodist Churches, has released the following statement:
The death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests on both sides of the Atlantic, have again drawn public attention to the ongoing evil of racism, which does so much harm throughout the world. The churches of the Independent Methodist Connexion add our voice to all who speak out against racial injustice and violence. Racism is an affront to God. His justice and love for all His creation demands we speak out at every opportunity.
Black lives, as do all lives, matter to a loving creator God who abhors all racism and prejudice. As unique as we are, we were all made in His image and it is incumbent upon us, the church, to stand together and say this has no place in our society in 2020.
United Reformed Church
On behalf of the United Reformed Church, Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, Karen Campbell, and the Moderators of the URC General Assembly, Rev Nigel Uden and Derek Estill, released the following statement and prayer on Wednesday 3rd June:
“I have come that you might have life in all its fullness.” Jesus Christ said this more than 2,000 years ago. But when will that fullness of life be afforded to all people – irrespective of the colour of their skin?
The United Reformed Church has no hesitation in adding its voice to the outrage and dismay expressed following the brutal killing of George Floyd. Floyd is the latest in a long line of black people killed in the USA by police officers – those whose sole authority comes from the motto “to protect and to serve”.
His killing is one more in a catalogue of deaths of black people at the hands of white individuals, in what the United Church of Christ described as a ‘modern-day lynching’. The Presbyterian Church (USA) demands that the “racism, white supremacy and anti-blackness so prevalent in our country must end”.
Together with our sister Churches in the USA, the United Reformed Church declares that racism – in any form – is a sin against humanity, and a sin against God, who created all people in God’s own image and likeness.
Even as we condemn the violence meted against black communities in the USA, we recognise this violence as just one symptom of a deeply rooted issue impacting black communities and people of colour right across the globe.
For too long, black peoples have had to negotiate a world ordered according to white privilege and white dominance; a status quo which presumes that ‘whiteness’ is inherently more entitled and superior to blackness.
For too long, black communities have borne the brunt of systemic injustices, impacting their health, their finances, their education, their prospects, their lives.
How long will they be asked – and expected – to turn the other cheek, to keep bearing and forgiving the injustices they suffer, only to find that there is no repentance on the part of those who oppress; no change being offered in the face of their perseverance?
The outcries following George Floyd’s death are testimony that many in these communities are tired of the injustice, tired of the struggle, tired of having their dignity undermined and their voices ignored.
As Christ’s Church, we must actively share in God’s particular concern for people who find themselves oppressed by systems of privilege and power.
We are reminded of the deep injustices which impact Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities within our own shores. The issue of white privilege shaped much of the Brexit discourse.
It can be seen at work in the hostile environment, the Windrush scandal, the Grenfell Tower scandal, stop-and-search policies, the over-representation of BAME people in the prison system, and the deaths of BAME people in police custody.
Systemic racism is prevalent. So, it is not enough that we are ‘not racist’, we must be anti-racist – actively working to recognise and address bigotry in our own lives, and then to dismantle the structures of racism and injustice in our world.
In the words of the United Church of Christ: “somehow we must garner the strength to call out this evil. We must bolster the courage to face this head on and call it by name. Only when we choose to face the evil can we cast it from our collective being.” We must be the change we want to see.
As Christians, we heed Christ’s call that we should be one, we reaffirm our unity with all people through the love of our one parent-God, and we declare that it is meaningless to claim that “all lives matter” until Black Lives Matter.
We offer this prayer, bringing to God the pain and concern of our fractured world, condemning all violence and yearning for change:
deeply troubled by what is happening following George Floyd’s death,
and by too much other inhumanity that doesn’t reach the headlines,
we cry to you as the one
whose love was the victor at Easter and
who pours it into our hearts at Pentecost.
As we observe the pain of a fractured world,
use your love to drive us from sadness to compassion;
as we watch the pain of the bereaved,
use your love to move us from pity to companionship;
as we are faced with the pain of marginalised people,
use your love to point us from complacency to your commonwealth.
In our praying,
let us not just talk to you,
but yield to your love;
in our anger,
let us not just rail against injustice,
but manifest your love;
in our actions,
let us not just flail about aimlessly,
but build the civilisation of love.
Until none of us are disregarded for who we are
nor any diminished by what we fail to be,
we keep on praying in the name of Jesus Christ,
The Salvation Army
Commissioners Anthony and Gillian Cotterill, Territorial Leaders of The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, released the following statement on Thursday 4th June:
The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland today affirms that it stands in solidarity with people around the world (including our own members and employees) who experience racism, both in its blatantly ugly and its more insidious forms.
Our hearts are heavy and hurting because it is increasingly obvious that BAME (black, Asian and ?other minority ethnic) people in the UK continue to suffer institutional racism in all areas of life. Our hearts are heavy and hurting because racism infects the church – and we acknowledge and confess that this is true even in parts of Salvation Army life. We are deeply concerned by the research showing that people from BAME groups in the UK have suffered disproportionately from the coronavirus pandemic. We recognise this is a critical time and today we want to recommit to our journey of togetherness with people from BAME communities and respond with positive action.
In these days following Pentecost, and the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the world, we increasingly understand our responsibility, in the words of Jesus himself, not only ‘to proclaim good news to the poor’ but also ‘to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (Luke 4 v18-19, NIV). The work of ‘recovery of sight for the blind’ and setting ‘the oppressed free’ is a priority in the fight against racism.
Consequently, The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom and Ireland will intentionally seek ways to confront and fight racism wherever it is found. We will take positive action to ensure that our culture is increasingly one in which our members, employees, service users and officers, of majority and minority ethnic origin, feel included – that is, respected, valued, trusted, safe and have a sense of belonging.’
Elim Pentecostal released the following statement on social media on Tuesday 2nd June:
Silence is not an option.
We stand together with our sisters and brothers who experience the violence of racism.
We stand together to speak out against this injustice wherever it is found.
A local story: Nottingham churches unite in prayer and action against racial injustice
At 9.25pm on Monday 8th June, churches across Nottingham came together in a moment of prayer, reflection and solidarity, responding as a united church to the killing of George Floyd in the United States precisely two weeks before.
More about Churches Together in England (CTE)
Churches Together in England (CTE) is the national ecumenical instrument supporting and encouraging churches from a wide range of traditions to work together in unity. Nationally, Churches Together in England brings together 50 Member Churches from many diverse traditions. In fact, we unite the broadest range of churches in the whole of Europe.
Our vision is to create the space in which fruitful collaboration and mutual understanding can grow, so that we as churches work more closely together in our great task of sharing in God’s mission and making the gospel of Christ known in our nation.
Our strapline is: One in Christ Jesus, engaged in God’s mission, empowered by the Spirit.