*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Institutional racism is still very pervasive, says C of E’s Racial Justice Director

12 May 2023

Madeleine Hayden

The Revd Guy Hewitt addresses the first Intercultural Mission conference in St Paul’s, Slough

The Revd Guy Hewitt addresses the first Intercultural Mission conference in St Paul’s, Slough

INSTITUTIONAL racism is still “very pervasive”, including in the Church of England, a conference on intercultural mission has heard.

More than 100 churchpeople from around the UK met on 26 April for the first Intercultural Mission Conference in the Church of England. It was hosted by St Paul’s, Slough, which is the Intercultural Mission Resourcing Hub in the diocese of Oxford.

A series of seminars explored themes of intercultural mission — from worship to gospel-preaching to facing the challenge of white privilege.

In one of the keynote speeches, the Revd Guy Hewitt, who is the Church of England’s Racial Justice Director, said that the Church was “at an inflection point” in terms of combating institutional racism and promoting true racial and cultural equality.

Referring to the title of a report from the Archbishops’ Anti-racism Taskforce (News 23 April 2021), Mr Hewitt said: “[The Church] is trying to move from word to deed, from lament to action . . . to realise those five Marks of Mission which include transforming unjust structures and giving full meaning to Vision and Strategy of being more diverse and fully representing the communities that we live amongst and serve.”

He went on to speak of the diversity represented in the Census 2021, and the need for the Church to bring to its centre growing worshipping traditions. “We are not talking about putting people side by side, but bringing them together to be united as one, as we are asked to be as members of the one body in Christ,” he said.

“We face a situation, politically and culturally, where institutional racism is still very pervasive.”

Referring to the Lambeth Palace Library slavery exhibition (News, 13 January, Comment, 3 March) and other church and national projects, he said: “We are only now starting to tell the truth and come to terms with the inglorious past. And we need to interrogate and be reconciled to it, if we are to go forward, if we are to give meaning to this call, to be truly intercultural: to be able to treat each other with the love and humanity that our faith calls us to do.”

He concluded: “It is not easy. There is a big challenge within churches because, for many of us, we like to stay in our comfort zones; we like to sing in languages we know; we like to listen to stories that are familiar to us. But we are being challenged here to dare to be different.”

In another keynote speech, Canon Mark Poulson, a former interfaith adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury, reflected on the concept of intercultural mission in the Church. “Interculturalism is not the same as multiculturism,” he said.

“It’s not about the passive acceptance and tolerance of multiple cultures in one place. It’s about the dynamic exchange and interchange of cultural capital, individually and corporately. It’s not about a cosy, comfortable appreciation of the food, dress, and music of others — it’s about iron sharpening iron. The Church as the body of Christ is incomplete without every culture, every people group, every tribe, every language being fully represented.”

The conference was the launchpad of the Anglican Network of Intercultural Churches, and a new intercultural mission journal, The Oxford Journal for Intercultural Mission, edited by the Vicar of St Paul’s, the Revd Dr Tim Wambunya. His church has been involved in intercultural mission for more than 25 years, he said, with a congregation of multiple cultures and ethnicities, including Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Iranians, Kenyans, Nigerians, and Somalians.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

 

Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)