On 20 October, 19 church leaders from across the town of Luton gathered to reflect on the racism that exists in our society and within our churches. It was called by Churches Together in Luton and led by Pastor Vincent Cox, supported by Pastor Tony Thompson.
Here Pastors Vincent and Tony reflect on the beginning of a journey…
Black pastors shared about their experiences of racism. Of being asked to leave churches without explanation, of being unwanted in the civil service due to the colour of their skin. They shared how they took the experience of George Floyd personally.
They talked about the importance of relationships between church leaders from different backgrounds, but these friendships need to go very deep if we are to explore the roots of what separates us, our differing experiences and the residual issues of the slave trade.
The breadth and seriousness of racism was spoken of. Feelings of superiority and inferiority are a sickness that destroys God’s creation.
White pastors responded, agreeing with what was shared by their black colleagues and admitting their role in racism as individuals and as denominations. They talked about actions already taken, but the need for more to be done to eliminate prejudice in all its forms.
It was agreed by all that we need to move beyond statements to actions. To be partners on a journey dreaming of what the future might look like. To meet as individuals to build friendships and grow together, the next gathering being early December.
To look at ways we can help each other build more culturally mixed churches, a survey has been developed to help us in this.
Other practical suggestions were made; bringing youth together from our churches to explore relationships, exploring the possibility of the transfer of unused church buildings to Black majority churches, working together and with the powerful in our town to eliminate inequalities in education and other areas.
This was an important foundational meeting that we hope to build on in the months and years to come. We invite other church leaders to join us on the journey.