Birmingham Churches Charter for racial justice

Since the death of George Floyd in the USA in the Spring of 2020, leaders of Christian Churches and organisations across Birmingham have been meeting regularly via Zoom to address issues of racial injustice both in the Church and in society. The group, which comprises senior leaders from the city’s historic, Black Majority and new Churches, took the name ‘Time4Change.’

The result of prayer and conversation in many early morning meetings through the summer and autumn is a Time4Change Charter, which calls for reflection, repentance, prayer, relationship-building and the development of a strategy to redress the racial imbalances within the Church and community.

The leaders backing the Charter include the Rt Revd David Urquhart (Bishop of Birmingham), Bishop Deverton Douglas (New Testament Church of God), Pastor Mark Ryan (Birmingham City Church), Pastors Calvin and Pauline Young (Mount Zion Community Church), Revd Steve Faber (United Reformed Church), Bishop Tedroy Powell (Church of God of Prophecy), Pastor Adrian Hurst (Oasis Church) and Bishop Mike Royal (Apostolic Congress).

The 15 points of the Charter are:

1. We the churches, Christian organisations and followers of Jesus acknowledge the issue of racial injustice and its systemic and institutional nature.

2. We commit to challenge racism confidently across Birmingham and see it removed from the church and society.

3. We commit to an honest and open look at ourselves and our churches and where we are in relation to the issue of racial injustice.

4. We will pray: actively encouraging prayer as a group and within and across our churches and neighbourhoods over the issue of racial injustice and disunity.

5. We repent – we have caused or ignored hurt and we pray for a deep healing in our city.

6. We will engage in conversations – creating the spaces for open, honest and frank dialogue. We will listen to the voices of our black and all ethnic communities, across the generations and the different parts of our city.

7. We commit to relationship-building with church and city leaders, modelling strong supportive relationships across the city. We will build a culture of honour, openness and support within our churches, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

8. We will bridge the knowledge gap, building a shared understanding of what it is like to be black, or of other ethnicity in Birmingham today, understanding the historical context and the damage to their psyche by sustained and systemic racism.

9. We aim for truth, reconciliation and healing through open discussions across the city that understands and acknowledges the hurts of the past and hopes for the future. We will identify actions to bring healing.

10. We will advocate; using our influence and understanding to speak up for racial equality and equity in the church and the city. We will inspire changes in structures and cultures to remove racism. We will engage the city’s civic leaders as they address this issue.

11. We will build and strengthen representative leadership: Creating systems, structures and processes that encourage representative leadership in our churches and organisations. We will actively mentor and encourage young and emerging leaders.

12. We will take practical action, developing short, medium and long term plans to equip the wider church to strengthen unity and collaboration and engage the wider community.

13. We will equip and engage the wider church with material on theology, and key principles around justice, equity and equality, testimonies and events. We will ensure our actions and narratives are centred very clearly on Jesus, rooted firmly in the word of God and inspired by the Spirit.

14. We will communicate and dialogue regularly and clearly, in an engaging and accessible way to ensure the wider church is kept up to date. We will inspire Christians engaged in business, health, education, arts and media and other spheres to be champions for equity, equality and builders of unity.

15. We commit to being a welcoming city, a super-diverse community where all peoples, whatever their background or ethnicity see that God’s people will always provide a home, a community and a generous welcome. We commit to strengthening unity and harmony across the church that we might be one, just as the Father and Son are one.

For more information, visit the Time4Change website.

This article, written by the Time4Change team, first appeared on the Birmingham Churches Together website.

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Quakers commit to becoming an anti-racist church

7 December 2020

Quakers were totally immersed in the slave trade. Not just as abolitionists. They were ship owners, captains, merchants and investors, in ports such as London and Bristol.

This hard truth faced Quakers’ representative body this week as they met online to discuss, among other matters, action on racism. They had before them a minute from the church’s trustees which said, “Racism exists among Quakers in Britain and must be tackled at all levels.”

Quakers generally meet in stillness, listening for the promptings of love and truth. Business meetings include periods of silence. So it was unusual for the music of Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley and the words of a young Black rapper, Dave, to set the scene for moving discernment.

Engaging with Britain’s colonial past and complicity of Quakers and other faith organisations in slavery, is a way of laying bare some of the links to current day racism and its structures, suggested Edwina Peart, Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Quakers in Britain.

Quakers who played a leading role in abolition are now behind the curve. This is a moment of crisis in which the fault lines of inequality are laid bare.

– Edwina Peart for Quakers in Britain

Edwina Peart said that faith organisations not only played an active role in slavery, they were also an important part of how the story was told and is told. Slave traders are remembered as benefactors. Britain is remembered for abolition not for its role in slavery. As are Quakers. Enslaved and freed Africans’ role in abolition is largely erased.

She urged the need to acknowledge the wounds that exist across and within communities. “Amongst people that find themselves on the margins, within those that centre themselves in privileged positions and barely notice this, and everyone in between. It is not enough to acknowledge these wounds, we have to act in ways that help heal them. We have to take this in, into our hearts and heads.”

Enabling discernment about racism, Edwina concluded, “Quakers who played a leading role in abolition are now behind the curve. This is a moment of crisis in which the fault lines of inequality are laid bare.”

With the music of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” filling the silence, Edwina Peart asked, “Can we make an active commitment to dismantling institutional racism within Quakers and society” and “Based on our testimonies what is our vision for this work?”

Meeting for Sufferings agreed this minute: “Our testimonies to equality and truth demand that we engage in a drive towards real change, turning our declared intentions into reality. We are called to commit to becoming an actively anti-racist church. Individually we are all on different stages of this journey, which is based on learning, moves through acknowledgment and on to commitment to action based on discernment.

“Friends General Conference in their Epistle of the 2020 Virtual Pre-Gathering of Friends of Color and their Families ask, ‘What is the Spirit leading me to do about the historic and ongoing racial pandemic across my meeting, my community, my work environment and my country?’

“The time to act is now, personally and in our area meetings. We welcome the Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) trustees’ minute on racism and look forward to hearing of future developments about the work to which they have committed to centrally.”

Meanwhile young Quakers, aged 11 to 18 years old, had also been considering “A Quaker response to racism”. They joined Meeting for Sufferings online at the beginning and end of the day. They summarised their commitment in powerful words, music and imagery. Included playing recording of young Black rapper, Dave, and his song, Black, which has these lines:

“Look, black is beautiful, black is excellent
Black is pain, black is joy, black is evident”

And this from young Quaker, Sean: “I think speaking accurately for most of us young Quakers gathered here today, we have all learned new things about racism and social construct, so that we can begin to unlearn and dismantle prejudice that we are taught as a part of our upbringing. Being silent in the face of injustice and cruelty is a problem we must overcome as a society.”

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Welcoming Ethnic Minority Congregations: Church-Sharing and the Church of England – December 2020

How in ecumenical settings the Church of England cares for Christian BAME congregations was uppermost in the minds of those who conducted some recent research. The focus was upon sharing buildings, a context where very often the Church of England is in a position of strength with regard smaller, but lively, churches. On a landmark day, 1 December, the Council For Christian Unity published its 2020 report Welcoming Ethnic Minority Congregations: Church-Sharing and the Church of England. The full text can be read on the Church of England website here.

This report is one example of how racial justice and ecumenism are intertwined. Both are about unity, the very thing Jesus prayed for on the eve of his death and the heart of his triumph in his agony on the cross, as the apostle Paul put it when speaking of the new life Jesus achieved for us, ‘there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!’ (Col 3:11). This biblical vision of overcoming racial barriers leads us to ask how, in practice, are we in the Church of England living up to that.
We all know of our need for genuine and deep repentance. But there are also things to celebrate or even learn from in the past experience of the parishes of the Church of England – just as there are ways in which we can improve or perhaps resource better what we are doing. All of these motivations drove the Council for Christian Unity’s report. It begins to explore how Church of England parishes are coping with the changing reality of Christianity in England from the angle of the welcome they give to ethnic minority congregations. The question it puts to us is how these ecumenical relations are appreciated as a genuine opportunity for mission, learning from one another certainly, but also reaching out together to parts of society that can be better reached in cooperation.

Download report

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Racial Justice Toolkit

June 8, 2020

Bishop Philip: ‘We must redouble efforts to welcome all’

The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, has called on everybody living within the diocese to redouble their efforts to provide a welcome for all people, regardless of ethnicity.

And the diocese’s minority ethnic champion, Patrick Gilbert, has said it is essential that welcome is across our schools, places of work, and the wider community, in addition to the churches themselves. 

Their comments come against a backdrop of anti-racism protests in the UK and the US, following the death of George Floyd in police custody. One officer was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Patrick Gilbert’s story:

Let’s talk race: A series of open conversations at The Engine House Church, Redruth

where we address the blatant issues & hopefully uncover the more subtle ones that are happening in the world at the moment.

“Black Voices Cornwall exist to enable Cornwall to become an actively anti-racist County.

We will bring increased awareness and empowerment through Communication,
Education and Unification.”

The Quaker Journey

Black Lives Matter Quaker Alliance (Cornwall)

Toolkit for Action: Owning Power and Privilege by Suki Ferguson, Quaker Peace & Social Witness pCommunications Officer, Published May 2018. Second edition October 2018.

How All Saints Highertown seeks to tackle Racism

All Saints Highertown Anti-Racism Policy Sep 20

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Racial Justice Webinar: ‘Black and Blue’

Watch again: this much-anticipated webinar, streamed live on Wednesday 2 December 2020, featured present and former serving black police officers about their views on the Black Lives Matter movement, institutional racism, ‘stop and search’ and related law and order issues.

Contributors included:

  • Dr Leroy Logan MBE, former superintendent in the Metropolitan police and a former chair of the Black Police Association. Leroy is also the author of Closing Ranks: My Life as a Cop.
  • Janet Hills, a Detective Sergeant in the Metropolitan Police Service. Janet is the first Female Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association and was also the National Black Police Association President from 2015-2017.
  • Bevan Powell MBE, the former chair of the Black Police Association and current Methodist Secretary for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

The session was chaired by the Venerable Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Archdeacon of Croydon and Revd Les Isaac OBE, CEO of the Ascension Trust.


This webinar was produced in partnership with:

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The Uncomfortable Conversation: Talking about Race in Cornwall

On the 31st October, 2020 we were joined by a panel of guest speakers and guided through some topics that we hope will be insightful and educational – How is it to grow up in Cornwall as a person of colour? How has creative action helped to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement? In what ways may white people be subconsciously creating problems?

We also went through some of the current language that is being used and offer definitions for some of the terms and expressions in use when people talk about race and racism.

​Our speakers for the event;

Abi Hutchinson – Abi is a recent graduate from University of the Arts London. She is one of the founding members of Black Voices Cornwall and is the Cultural Director for the organisation. Abi is the co-host of the event.

​Mary Mawonera – Mary is an ordained minister with a background in Marketing, public relations sales management. She is a qualified teacher with PGCE and a Masters in Education, currently exploring Neuroscience and Neurocycology.

​Jones Oviawe – Jones is a Falmouth resident who grew up in East London. He is Founder of Cornish based Start Up; Money Story. Jones is passionate about developing people, finding purpose and entrepreneurship.

​Dr Misri Dey – Misri is a Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University, and works for equality, creativity and hope through her pedagogical, cultural and political activism.

​Marcus Alleyne – Marcus is an internationally recognised conductor and founder of South West Philharmonia and Chorus, working with choirs, orchestras and theatre companies across the UK. He is one of the founder members of Black Voices Cornwall and a former Royal Naval Medical Officer. He sits on a number of Diversity and inclusion panels including ITV, Cornwall Council BAME Steering Group and the Devon and Cornwall Scrutiny Panel.

Listen to recordings of the talks

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All lives can’t matter until black lives matter

Takisha Sargent, a young person in the Diocese of Gloucester, shares why all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.

She says, “I’d like to take this time to tell you about the honest realities of what it’s like to grow up in England black.”

Takisha is a member of the congregation at St Peter’s, Newnham and is reading music at Cardiff University.

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Racial Justice Webinar ‘Black and Blue’ : 2 Dec, ONLINE

This much-anticipated webinar “Black and Blue”, will enable you to hear from present and former serving Black police officers about their views on the Black Lives Matters movement, institutional racism, “stop and search” and related law and order issues.

This webinar brings together the likes of Dr Leroy Logan MBE, Janet Hills and Bevan Powell MBE who will talk about issues such as why they initially joined the police service; whether this decision impacted their relationships with family and friends, and how they have been viewed by their White colleagues.

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This post will expire on Wednesday December 2nd, 2020 11:59pm

CTE Member Churches discuss action on racial justice

This summer, many CTE Member Churches spoke out against racial injustice and committed to stand against racism in all its forms, following the brutal murder of George Floyd in the United States. As churches and ecumenical officers gathered online for CTE’s October 2020 Enabling Group, their attention turned again to this important issue…

CTE’s Enabling Group is a twice-yearly meeting bringing together representatives of CTE’s 50 national Member Churches, as well as Bodies in Association and County Ecumenical Officers from regions across England. This year’s autumn meeting took place from 22 to 23 October, gathering online for the first time due to coronavirus restrictions.

Heartfelt reflections

The session on racial justice at the Enabling Group began with the video above, sharing a series of heartfelt personal reflections on racism. These reflections were shared by representatives of CTE’s 50 Member Churches, including Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Church of England, Quaker and Orthodox traditions.

Time for action

The Enabling Group heard how the churches concern for racial justice is being carried forward at different levels, including by CTE’s Presidents in their public statements and ongoing conversations, following a period of listening to black young people, senior church leaders and community practitioners.

The Enabling Group also heard about the new Racial Justice Working Group which CTE trustees are in process of setting up. This will bring together racial justice representatives from across the churches, along with CTE trustees, a representative from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), and others with specialist skills and knowledge. The aims of the group include supporting churches in their work in racial justice – including tackling racial injustice within their own structures – and enabling national initiatives and policies to be embraced by churches together at intermediate and local levels.

County Ecumenical Officers (CEOs) also shared how they have begun discussing the issue of racial justice together, including a first awareness-raising session, due to be followed up with a second discussion about possible future actions.

CTBI’s racial justice work

Recognising the important work that CTBI continues to undertake in this area, Richard Reddie, CTBI’s Director of Justice and Inclusion, shared an overview of past, present and future work on racial justice.

Past work includes:

  • The British Council of Churches’ Community and Race Relations Unit
  • 1990 – a move to the Churches Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), who launched Racial Justice Sunday and the Racial Justice Fund
  • 2006/7 – a move to the Churches Racial Justice Network, with work including the PEERS Project, emerging out of an initiative with Neville Lawrence and the McPherson Report to support young Black people in community-based projects

CTBI’s current work in this area includes Racial Justice Sunday (the second Sunday in February), the hosting of roundtables, talks and webinars, and the production of books and other resources.  Their future plans include the creation of a racial justice theology think tank to provide legal, pastoral, psychological support to those in our churches and society impacted by institutional racism,  resourcing the churches on racial justice, and advocating with Black Christians to the government.

Thanks for CTE’s Joe Aldred

Recognising the significant work already undertaken to encourage and enable black-majority churches to play their full part in UK church life, heartfelt appreciation was offered to Joe Aldred, CTE’s long-serving staff member for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations, who was to retire later in October.

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Tackling racial injustice: CTE takes action

CTE has responded to the Presidents’ call for real change to work towards racial justice:

  • Trustees have set up a racial justice working group, under the leadership of trustees Lurliene Miller and Moses Owusu-Sekyere.
  • CTE’s Enabling Group will spend a key session at its forthcoming meeting reflecting on the issue and promoting change.
  • County Ecumenical Officers (CEOs) and those with a brief for racial justice within Intermediate Bodies have committed themselves to learning more about racial injustice and to putting into place strategies for combating it. 

County Ecumenical Officers discuss racial injustice

The first of two meetings of County Ecumenical Officers (CEOs) to explore racial injustice has already taken place. CEOs work within Intermediate Bodies across England, encouraging and facilitating unity among churches at the county/city level.

The aim of this first meeting, a webinar, was to learn about the history and the philosophical root of racism, and also to understand microaggressions, white privilege and white supremacy. In this session, CEOs were joined by Alton Bell, chair of the Movement for Justice and Reconciliation, and Dionne Gravesande, Senior Ecumenical Relations Manager at Christian Aid. The video of their contributions is available at the bottom of this page.

A second meeting of CEOs will take place later this year. CEOs will use this opportunity to reflect on the first webinar, and to consider how to move forward, working out what relevant actions may be needed. In this they will be helped by Karlene Kerr, special advisor for black, Asian and minority ethnic affairs in the Diocese of Norfolk.

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