The Diocese of London has been on a journey of racial awakening for many decades and the Stepney area has always played an important role. The former Archbishop of York and former Bishop of Stepney, John Sentamu wrote a report in July 1999: Towards an Agenda for Action for the Church of England. This report requested a “step change in the Church’s self-understanding and its attitude toward racism and the place of minority ethnic members in its life and development”. Many of these suggestions have been picked up in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anti-Racism Taskforce Report ‘From Lament to Action’ which the diocese is actively working towards.
As in 1999, the same is true for 2023 that to engender meaningful change, there must be an acceptance and appreciation of the ability for those who share a different culture to access the universality found in the Book of Acts to recognise that embracing their culture is not inconsistent with the message of salvation since the gift of Jesus Christ was an unconditional act of grace for all. It is also important to note that as the people of God, and as children of the same heavenly Father, in our strivings for racial justice we journey together in love and grace with Christ in our midst.
The Diocese has adopted a Racial strategy which articulates our ambition for real change with firm actions that target the issues of racism and injustice to rebalance racial harmony so that the gifts and talents of GMH/UKME members can be celebrated.
This work is guided by the Racial Justice Priority Group (RJPG) and is supported in prayer by the monthly Racial Justice Prayer bulletin. Our work builds on the previous work of many including the recommendations of the Latimer Communique who in 2015 brought together stipendiary GMH/UKME clergy of the Diocese of London, representatives of the Diocese of Chelmsford, Rochester and Southwark to discuss the under representation of black and minority ethnic communities in aspects of church life. The plea to take intentional actions to better reflect those we serve must be met with a determination to embrace the difference that they bring enabling them to define more nuanced ways of leading ‘using their difference to make a difference’ noting inclusion is not about bringing people into what already exists but about creating a space that allows them to create better spaces for all. We confirm our commitment to engendering change within our own structures as an area for which we will be accountable and intend to build on the ongoing work in the wider diocese that includes the following:
- A webpage dedicated to the racial justice work with a wide range of resources.
- A monthly prayer bulletin available on the 1st of every month for which you can sign up to receive.
- The 22nd of each month has been denoted as Racial Justice prayer day in the Cycle of Prayer
- A diocesan wide strategy to frame our priorities underpinned by an operations plan is available on the webpage
- An anti-racism statement that confirms our commitment to the task ahead has been adopted
- Our recruitment practises/ processes are being audited so we are clear about the challenges ahead
- Diocesan Synod, Bishops Council and Senior Staff are receiving regular updates as to progress
- Parishes have access to a ‘10-point Action Plan’ for racial justice engagement
To make racial justice a success in the Stepney area we will need the prayers and the support of others. The recent Focus Group Report gives an indication of the work that needs to be done with determination and commitment. We are currently looking for 3 – 5 people who would like to work with us in taking the recommendations of the report forward in the Stepney Focus Group Summary of the report findings can be found here. If this is of interest why not email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat about what making a commitment to further this work would involve.