This article was originally posted on the CTBI website after Faith and Racial Justice Lead Dwayne Hutchinson met with Richard Reddie to discuss his work in Leeds. You can find the original article here.
Are there faith and racial justice initiatives in the north of England? Dwayne Hutchinson, from the Leeds Church Institute, met with Richard Reddie, from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, to discuss this and the public conference being planned: Churches Against Racism 2024.
As the Faith and Racial Justice Lead at Leeds Church Institute, I truly enjoy moments when I meet people who are fighting alongside me for social justice, particularly in the area of racial justice in the Church.
Earlier this summer, Myself and Richard Reddie, the Director of Justice and Inclusion for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, had the opportunity to meet in Leeds and discuss the initiatives that are happening across Britain and Ireland, including racial justice projects within the Church, Church Leaders, and Christian communities. It appears as though people who are involved with faith and racial justice initiatives are predominantly in the Midlands and the South of England – with a noticeable gap in the North.
Although there may be people working with churches regarding racial justice initiatives in the North of England, it was quite a challenge for myself and Richard, to identify specific people and ongoing initiatives who work alongside churches within this region of England. Why is this the case? Is it because nothing is happening? Is it because it’s not publicised? Is it because these are private events? Or is it because churches are not working together to fight against racism? I would love to find out the answers to these questions.
Since October 2022, I have seen a lot of people fighting for racial justice across England, and around the world. These days, I am seeing less and less of organisations making recent statements against racism, in comparison to 2020 when we saw a huge surge of people and organisations making anti-racist statements against racial injustices. Since that unexcepted wave, I have not seen Bishops, Pastors and Priests, alongside Church congregations, gather together with an explicit intention to fight against racism. It would seem as though racism does not exist anymore in the world or in the global Church – but we know this is not true.
Thankfully, the recent quietness on racial justice in Leeds is changing.
Leeds Church Institute is currently facilitating lunch discussions for bishops, pastors and priests in the city. They are meeting on a regular basis to voice their actions on racism and their lived experiences.
The current discussions between these leaders are preparing the way for a public conference: Churches Against Racism 2024. In April next year, this conference will be open for everyone to attend. People will hear and get the opportunity to see which bishops, pastors, priests and congregations are taking a stand against racism and continuing to fight for racial justice.
Richard and I shared how we are looking forward to seeing this event in the City of Leeds, welcoming every attendee and then seeing concrete developments take place at the conference and afterwards. We are so excited to see prominent leaders from diverse Church backgrounds make bold statements against racism, right here in Leeds.
To see anti-racist churches in Leeds and across the world is not a far-fetched dream. It is not futuristic and unreachable. It is already a reality for some churches, and it can be a reality for many more churches too.
I believe that we can see all churches become Churches Against Racism. If you believe it too, we will see you at the Conference in April 2024.