Friday, October 16, 2020

Kerith Talks About Race


I hope and believe that when the history books are written reflecting on the global pandemic we are currently living through, one of the most significant things they will talk about is the conversations which have taken place during this season about race and racism. In fact my hope and prayer is that not only will they talk about the conversations that took place, but more importantly the changes which happened in society as a result of those conversations. I strongly sense that the pandemic has created a unique moment in history for change; that this is one of the ways God is going to bring good from the evil of Covid, bringing his justice and righteousness into the world.

When all of this first happened I strongly sensed God saying to create space for people in our community to tell their stories. We heard publicly from people like Shari Barrett, Pelumi and Rachel Aworinde and Daniele Seidu. These people at the core of our community told us about the racism that they have experienced and continue to experience. I remember feeling a mixture of disbelief, anger and shame at what these people who I count as friends have been through. I also felt regret that despite having know all of them for a number of years this was the first time I'd ever had a conversation with them about things which have so deeply impacted their lives. I know that alongside the public conversations there were many private conversations that took place too. Conversations where some of us had the courage to tell stories we've never told before, and others of us listened and learnt in a whole new way.

So what do we do next? We are going to launch an exploratory research project called Talking about Race. This will be the next step in our goal of becoming a church which actively seeks to eliminate racism, both internally and in our wider society. The research should give us the tools as an organisation to support all people who experience racism and enhance our efforts as a community in becoming more inclusive. 

The first part of the project will be listening to our whole community and getting a good understanding of people's perceptions and experiences of racism, diversity and inclusion. I am delighted that Natalee Matsekeza, who completed the Kerith Academy in 2016 and studied Sociology and International Development, will be leading this project for us. I want to encourage all of us in Kerith to complete the survey - we want to hear what everybody thinks. regardless of their ethnic background. You can find the survey here.

Following on from the survey, Natalee will carry out individual interviews for those who would like to share more. Then in the New Year we will report back on the results of the research and the next steps we are going to take as a community.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to fill in the survey, I really appreciate it. 

Simon

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