Superintendents Letter - 10th June 2020
Below is this week's letter from our Superintendents, all about speaking out against racism and the need for action.
Reverend Farai Mapamula, Circuit Minister and District Equality Diversity and Incusion Officer, kneeling alongside Reverend Ian Howarth our District Chair at the Birmingham Protests on the 4th of June.
Grace and peace to you as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
As we continue to live in a world of uncertainty, alert to the dangers of Coronavirus, we also live with another viral pandemic that requires us to wake up and be alert to its presence deep within our society. Racism – which the Methodist Church “believes is a denial of the gospel” (S.O. 013B). The President of the Methodist Conference, Revd Dr Barbara Glasson wrote a personal letter to us last week that spoke of the outrage and deep sorrow she herself felt at the brutal killing of George Floyd in the USA and challenged us as a Church to repentance and transformation: “be brave, speak out, speak up and challenge racism wherever we find it, especially when we find it in ourselves”.
Following a deeply moving Circuit Staff Meeting when we listened to many voices expressing their anger, sorrow and grief, representatives from the Circuit and the Chair of the Birmingham District chose to attend the ‘Black Lives Matter’ peaceful protest in Birmingham, heeding the advice of the West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable. Here, along with many people from different backgrounds, we were privileged and humbled to kneel in silence alongside young black people who are taking the lead in speaking out against racism that is systemic, institutionalised and a lived reality for our black brothers and sisters.
Revd Farai Mapamula, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Birmingham Methodist District has written to us sharing her reflections in a pastoral letter and I invite us as Methodists to consider how we respond in a meaningful way to the pain and grief experienced by our black brothers and sisters not just in the recent weeks but over the centuries. As Farai says: “All lives will matter only when black lives matter”. Download the letter here.
There is much to learn about how to bridge the divide between the majority of people of white, British heritage in the UK whose white privilege has meant that we often have little understanding of the deep-seated racism experienced by people in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Understanding equity and equality, privilege and power, freedom and justice is key to making the changes to our lives, the Church and the world, that will enable all people to live in freedom with justice for all.
Are we prepared to stand up as Methodists to say that we are anti-racist, that we will commit ourselves as individuals “to love our neighbour as ourselves” and to join as allies with people of colour to support those groups that are working towards structural change both In the UK and as a global movement for change? To be an ally is costly, it involves advocacy for the marginalised but also the recognition that we are prepared to transfer the benefits of our privilege to those people who are suffering injustice.
Yesterday evening twenty members of the Birmingham Methodist Churches met via a Zoom meeting to listen to each other. The pain of hearing the voices of black people whose lives can be violently ended in a few minutes, without any recognition that the life of a precious human being has been taken, was nothing compared to the pain of those who have suffered this injustice for generations.
Just as this Coronavirus pandemic has made us realise how vulnerable we are as human beings and galvanised us into finding a vaccine, this viral pandemic of racism in society has to be eradicated and galvanise us into meaningful and sustainable action together that will heal and transform the world - until all lives matter.
If you would like to find out more please do speak to your Minister. We will be sharing more in the coming weeks about how we aim to take action as a circuit.
God of grace and mercy,
move us with compassion for your people,
to speak out against injustice,
to work and pray for peace
and to bear one another’s burdens with love.
Bring down our walls of fear and hatred,
of prejudice and oppression.
Build faith, hope and love
on your foundations of justice and peace.
And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Alison, Neil and Nick
Get in Touch
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