Churches Together In Greater Bristol lTogether4Bristol l Keyboard Trust
Standing Together Against Racial Injustice 2021 The Church & Racial Injustice
Voices from Community, Church & Political Leaders
Revised Statement June 28th
The Keyboard Trust has engaged in several conversations with Community, Church Leaders and Political representatives for several years. In 2020, we provided several statements in response to the events that had taken place in the USA with the killing of George Floyd on 25th May 2020 and the increase in local racial justice campaigning.
We have now passed the 1st anniversary of the death of George Floyd. In response to that, we want to ask the question, has anything changed? We have asked a number of key Community, Church Leaders and Political representatives across the city to share their perspectives 12 months on, including Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Dr Carole Johnson JP who has served as local councillor for the Ashley ward for the past 5 years (2016 - May 2021); Bishop Ray Viera of House of Praise, Pastor David Mitchell of Woodlands Church and other faith groups who are standing with us in unity. It’s only when we come together as one group, including individuals, churches and professional bodies that we can face up to the issues of racial injustices and truly stand in solidarity alongside others who are hurting.
Together, fired by a common vision, we can initiate bold and strategic actions and move forward towards a better world. As people of faith we believe prayer plays an important part in all of human life and activity so alongside our actions let us pray to the Lord for the renewal of law, order and justice.
“Over the last year since George Floyd’s death, we have seen in this country as well as in the USA a growing acknowledgement of systemic racism. This has been identified most disturbingly in our organs of state, notably the police but yes in the established Church too. The conviction of Derek Chauvin of George Floyd’s murder is a step towards greater justice for black men and women in the States, but much more remains to be done. As Church leaders in Bristol, we are engaged in heart-searching about our blind spots or inattention to casual racism and are working to build deeper relationships of understanding and respect across ethnic divides”
“I would like to see an end of people being judged by their colour, God sees us from the inside out and we should do the same, God is the only judge, and we are all his children and he does not have Favorites, He loves us all the same. Jesus spent His time with the poor the helpless those marginalized by the society we need to reach out to those who feel overlooked or abused and neglected by society, we need to see an end of people being judged by the colour of their skin”.
“As churches, we continue to be committed to justice for all, learning and listening from others experiences and wisdom, challenging injustices that discriminate others. We have formed an Inclusivity & Diversity group working to advise the churches on steps and actions that may be needed, to be churches that are more actively welcoming to all and value all human beings - as all are made in the image of God. We continue to acknowledge that there is more that we can and must do and want to learn and grow as we build a city of hope together for all people across our city”.
“A year on from the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing global movement for Black Lives Matter, we feel the effects of these events in Bristol's Jewish communities. Conversations were sparked within our communities about the realities of racism. A report has recently been released exposing the presence of racism within British Jewish communities, and we are now working out how to implement the recommendations made. There have been reflections and discussions exploring Judaism and Race, as well as the history of Jewish solidarity in the struggle against racism and for Black liberation. We are reminded that our tradition teaches that we “Do not stand idly by while your neighbour’s blood is shed.” (Leviticus 19:16). I am so grateful for the light that is shining from the Black Lives Matter movement, as it raises uncomfortable truths and makes us face our role in racism, it helps pave the path towards the end of violence against Black people, the end of all racism, and to help us weave the wisdom of Black Jews and Jews of Colour more fully into our communities”.
"The Killing of George Floyd and the black experience. t’s been nearly a year since a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, setting off perhaps the largest sustained mass protests throughout USA, UK, Europe and the nations of the world.
The 46-year-old’s last breaths have been witnessed by millions of people as video footage of the traumatic incident circulated rapidly across the world.
For me the words “I Can’t Breathe” Will live in the hearts all.
What has changed since George Floyd death?
A black person is killed by a police officer in America at the rate of more than one every other day. Floyd’s death followed those of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician shot at least eight times inside her home, Ahmaud Arbery, killed in a confrontation with three white men as he jogged through their neighbourhood, and many more. For me there does not seem to be change that protects black and minority groups. We have seen the protests. We have seen black and white people walking together protesting against injustice. At the heart of the protests against the killing of George Floyd has been the desire to confront injustices - in the justice system, employment, and health.
In the UK, events have raised questions over race, racism and injustice.
Recently Director of Policy Munira Mirza, who grew up in Oldham, was appointed to lead a government commission into racial inequalities.
However, she has previously cast doubt on whether institutional racism exists and has condemned previous inquiries for fostering a 'culture of grievance'.
Since the Lammy Report, what has changed? Recently we have since see a government paper saying that there is no such thing as institutional racism in the UK.
I am very concerned that the UK government have shown little regard for the black experience of racism in the UK. The system must change. The system can only change when we the black population take charge of its own destiny.
I leave you with this thought. When all the protesting is over what next? What is the next plan of action to bring about significant and meaningful change? Where all men regardless of the skin are equal".
“We were encouraged by the conviction of Derek Chauvin as a sign that things are changing. Some of the seeds of change for racial equality planted in Bristol will take time to grow but we are committed to continuing to plant these seeds and to nurture the plants as they grow.”
“One year on, we can only affirm the importance of making sure that we recognise the gifts and value of all God’s children and that we don't tolerate racism. This season of Pentecost is an added reminder that the diversity is seen in the early church in Antioch (check the list of church leaders in Acts 12!) should be continued and celebrated today, for the sake of simple justice, and the good of churches and all of society”.
Pastor Lester Freckleton: Vine Community Church. A branch of the New Testament Church of God. England and Wales.
“We must not forget the shock and trauma of George Floyd’s murder and the lives of countless others who have lost their lives due to inequality and injustice. In our living, let us remember that we are light in the darkness. Shining God’s light of truth into the darkness of hatred and inequality.…if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost."
Pastor Eric Aidoo: Chair of (Churches Together in Greater Bristol) & Pastor of City Rd Baptist
“Warm greetings fellow residents of Bristol. A year since the tragic death of George Floyd which triggered a global response and a call to address racial inequalities, we cannot but reflect to see if any progress has been made toward racial equality in general and in the administration of justice. The prosecution of the law enforcement officer responsible for George Floyd’s death is an indication that justice has been served. Notwithstanding there is yet work to be done for the realisation of significant improvement on the racial justice front. In our context here in Bristol progress is still being made on the journey towards equity. We are not yet where we ought to be but thankfully we are not where we used to be. We are aware of the past, mindful of the present but also very much looking to the future with hope. It is said that the moral arc of the Universe is long but it bends towards justice, and as we collaborate through meaningful dialogue, conversations and action we would hopefully bend the arc closer towards justice and equity. Thanks for your attention
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (people) to do nothing“ Edmund Burke
“The Good News is, it is certainly encouraging that we the church body continue together in prayer and transparent accountability. And clearly, there are a lot of great men (and women) in this city! More importantly, some great people recognise the need for change and are willing to do something about it. For this, I am truly grateful. There are also many developments and remarkable changes in the pipeline. This is all very hopeful, and I would love to say, “what an incredible turnaround since George Floyd’s death”, but sadly I cannot. Not when there have been so many more Black individuals killed in unpleasantly similar circumstances. This in itself, is an indicator of our current position. With years of racism as a backdrop, we are yet to extract the hideous roots of racist abuse.
If a black man cannot be given justice in a blatant disregard of life as with Gorge Floyd, then where and when can he get justice? We would hope that the answer to this would be “in the church,” sadly I do not see this as a reality, as the racial divides and separateness remains. We still have so much work to do, let’s continue to pray, to encourage with our words and in our deeds, each other and of course the communities that we are serving, for truly ALL things are possible through Christ Jesus who strengthens us! Let’s continue to unite.
The truth is that our prayers, whether from black or white lips, go up to the same God, who receives them all EQUALLY. There is only one race. The human race. I hope that we will do more to help others remember this as we move forward into a racism-free future. Together”.