A message from Bishop Rachel
On Stephen Lawrence Day the day the Archbishops’ Anti-racism Task Force published its report ‘From Lament to Action’ with a number of significant recommendations.
It comes in the same week as the deeply disturbing Panorama programme ‘Is the church racist’, and indeed the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
I am grateful to Bishop Robert for his letter in the Bulletin this week and we both wish to reiterate that racism is evil and an affront to the purposes of God and what it means for us to truly be the body of Christ. I am ashamed of the Church of England’s failure to act and Bishop Robert and I fully support the report ‘From Lament to Action’. Once again we want to underline that this is not someone else’s problem but it is our problem.
Coincidentally (or God-incidentally) the Bishop’s Staff team had scheduled a zoom gathering with The Revd Dr Suki Osunsanmi and Mrs Ade Osunsanmi who are our Diocesan links with the Committee for Minority and Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC). They continue to bring deep wisdom, insight, encouragement and challenge, and we had a significant time together. As a staff team we committed to a number of things together and individually. These include action points regarding our training and theological input; inclusive representation across our governance structures; mentoring; and continuing to ensure inclusive participation in all diocesan services. We recognise that these are simply a few next steps and the intention is for there to be continued discussion, not only among teams in College Green, but also across the many different contexts of this diocese. We recognise that we have a long way to travel, individually and together.
Today the Anglican Bishops in the West Midlands, of which myself and Bishop Robert are members of, have issued the following statement following the publication of the report of the Church of England’s Anti-Racism Taskforce:
“Racism has no place in the Church of England, but we must face the fact that it still exists. As West Midlands bishops, meeting on Stephen Lawrence Day, we strongly affirm the work of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce and the report ‘From Lament to Action’ issued today. We acknowledge our part in past and present failures, and recognise the challenges it presents. We wholeheartedly support its recommendations, and look forward to taking them forward with energy and determination.”
From the Bishops of Hereford, Worcester, Gloucester, Lichfield, Birmingham, Stafford, Warwick, Aston, Dudley, Tewkesbury, Wolverhampton, Coventry, and Shrewsbury.
Listen to Bishop Rachel speaking about racism on BBC Radio Gloucestershire on 25 April 2021 (from 1 hour 10 minutes into the show).