Building a diverse and universal faith community
Since the protest against racism on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, in the summer of 2020, the governing body of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, known as the Cathedral Chapter, has discussed how, as a Christian community, it might respond to the issues that were brought into sharper focus. The following statement is that response:
“We, the Chapter of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, acknowledge the unveiling of the systemic racism hidden within institutions and society, from a county-wide level to a country-wide level and beyond in Western culture. We begin to see where Global Majority Heritage (GMH) people are at a disadvantage in almost all areas of our common life together in Britain – in wealth, healthcare, housing, criminal justice, surveillance, employment and education, social care and the arts. We also acknowledge the great disadvantages that GMH people are subject to within the Church of England.
We are committed “To create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all our staff, volunteers and congregation are recognised and valued.”
This recognition of systemic racism fulfils the commitment to embracing difference and carries with it the Christian obligation to “hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). As we recognise the insidious evil of systemic racism at work in our society, so we must repent of those ways in which through ignorance, complacency or prejudice we have perpetuated racial injustices, and seek to make a fresh commitment to uncovering, recognising, naming and rectifying systemic racism that we find within the Body of Christ.
Human beings were made in God’s image, and for too long white Western culture has abused, shunned and ignored the image of God within the global majority. We commit ourselves to prayerfully engaging with how we may begin to reverse this neglect of God’s image, heal wounds and remember and honour the scars they leave behind.”
The Cathedral Chapter is working with Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives and in addition to this statement is committed to a developing programme of seeking lasting changes in its embrace of diversity, looking at Education, Encounter and Experience, to:-
• Educate ourselves about systemic racism.
• Encounter the diversity of worship, mission and ministry that People of Colour bring to the Church and build lasting relationships.
• Experience the fruits of those relationships in building new and lasting traditions within the Church that embrace diverse cultures.
Dean Joe said: “Our prayerful hope is that we build a diverse and universal faith community that embraces all that God has to offer us through each of God’s children, and that truly all will ‘be one in Christ Jesus’.”
Bishop Martin said: “I welcome this statement from the Cathedral, recognising the systemic racism within society and the commitment to work towards lasting change. I know this statement comes after a period of reflection and discussion following the demonstrations we saw in Suffolk as part of the global Black Lives Matter movement.
“Today, the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism task force also published a report, setting out ways the Church of England will address the insidious racism within the institution of the Church. The report is painful reading but provides concrete ways for the wider Church to address the injustice that has gone unchecked for too long.”
“I thank the Cathedral for their work and encourage the whole diocese to work together on this critical issue.”