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The Church has a noticeboard usually reserved for details of Community Activities at the Church premises. During the Coronavirus lockdown and subsequent restrictions there was no call for this so, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we put up this poster, featuring the face of George Floyd, the man whose death at the hands of the US Police sparked mass protests in the USA and a supportive movement worldwide.
Sadly this attracted some unwelcome attention, in the shape of spray-paint over the image of the dead man.
We felt we had to respond to this, and the Church decided that rather than cleaning off the paint we would comment on this act of vandalism (which may also have been an act of racism).
Jesus said: "To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously." (the Gospel of Luke ch 6. vv. 27-30)
Scripture quotation taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson.
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As time and weather took its toll of the original signs of vandalism, and our initial response, we decided to replace the poster with another on the same theme, and chose this quotation from Nelson Mandela, convict and President.
Most recently we have updated our banner; below is the Press Release issued at the unveiling ...
Prof Anthony Reddie (author of 'Is God Colourblind?') was asked by a white member of a Methodist church “what should we do to counter racism?“ Reddie’s reply was that it was not for him to sort out her white privileged background or deal with her white fragility. "I've got enough on my plate dealing with racism as a black man.“ He said "You have to work things out and not expect me and other black people to do all the hard work for you!"
In the light of this we, the white members of this church, have owned up to something that is very common among white people — silence. On many oocasions it's iust too comfortable NOT to get into an argument or a debate — we don't need all that extra angst in our lives. And anyway, we tell ourselves, we might be unsure of our ground. So, this banner is partially a wake-up call as much as anything else.
In ﬁve days time it will have been one year since the toppling of the Colston statue into the Bristol docks. There will be elements in our society who will use that anniversary as an excuse to counter BLM with the pseudo-inclusive cliche: ‘All Lives Matter‘. That statement is a diversion from what really matters at this time, and tragically it does not express the harsh reality of the world today in which Black lives are routinely devalued by racist attitudes that ﬁnd expression in unjust social and political systems.
White privileged people simply have to start calling this out. It’s going to be uncomfortable, painful and messy.
Thank you for being here today— let's see what debate and engagement this banner generates.
revised 07 June 2021