Working for Racial Justice
WORKING FOR RACIAL JUSTICE
All Saints’ Church, Ascot Heath
Introduction and overview
These guidelines are for the congregation of All Saints’ Church, Ascot Heath, to help us to be more aware of the nature and effects of racism, and of the need for racial justice.
As Christians we hold the biblical view that all human beings are created by God in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1: v. 27), and that there is only One Race, the Human Race. So all human beings are therefore, worthy of respect, dignity and love, and we should love one another, as sisters and brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. (Romans 12:10).
But racism in general consists of conduct or words or practices which advantage or disadvantage people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It teaches that different races exist and that certain people are superior to others, and so blights the lives of many millions of people throughout the world. So racism is sin and a denial of basic human right.
Therefore, we, as individuals and as members of church families must challenge and fight racism in its various forms based on understanding:
· the effects of prejudice and indirect racial discrimination on its victims
· the actions which may be unconscious, personal and unintentional as well as overt and deliberate, which create power and influence one ethnic group at the expense of others.
· the attitude and behaviour of individuals, groups and institutions as well as organisations
Aims of the Policy Guidelines
At All Saints’ Church we therefore, wish and intend to:
· involve people from a wide range of racial backgrounds in our church life and leadership
· include issues of racial justice in all our teaching, worship and mission
· keep our attitudes and behaviour under review
· use peace and reconciliation procedures when problems arise
1. Involve People of all backgrounds in Church life
· We must welcome people from a wide range of culture, national, ethnic and racial backgrounds whenever they visit our church. We should identify newcomers and after the service, invite them to the hall for coffee and introduce them to the Clergy and parishioners
· We should become more outward looking and encourage visitors from ethnic minority group to come again and to play a full part in church life and in church leadership.
· We should show respect for people of all backgrounds and seek to learn from everyone’s experience and outlook.
· We must, in particular be sensitive to the concerns and interests of people who are in a numerical minority, for otherwise such people may all too easily be ignored.
2. Teaching, worship and mission
We must include issues of racial awareness and equality whenever possible in the full range of church activities, including opportunity to:
· provide positive images of a wide range of Christian heroes, heroines and inventors
· support members of the congregation who take action against racism in their personal or working lives
· support local and national organisations e.g. the Churches Commission on Racial Justice (CCRJ), the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC), Evangelical Christians for Racial Justice (ECRJ), Association of Black Clergy, Racial Equality Council,
Churches Together in England etc
· maintain links with people of other faiths & denominations e.g. Baptist, Roman Catholic, Hindus, Bahai, Methodist, Moslem, Black-led-Churches, Church Workers amongst the Asian Community whose membership is more diverse than our own, in nearby areas such as Reading and Slough.
· take a public stand when appropriate on issues of topical importance
· observe Racial Justice Sunday each year.
· invite from time to time, a priest from a minority ethnic group to preach at 10.30 Parish Mass on Christian understanding of race and racism, valuing cultural diversity, overseas needs, projects etc as the Gospel directs, and so enrich our worship.
· re-convene All Saint’s Racial Justice Team as part of the Ministry Team’s agenda for action with theological reflections.
· use Parish Adviser for Racial Justice. Its role is to:-
· support Clergy in the celebration of Racial Justice Sunday.
· co-ordinate the work of a re-established Racial Justice Panel
· liaise with the Diocesan Adviser for Racial Justice
· participate in the activities of reconvened All Saint’s Racial Justice Team
· keep under review the Working for Racial Justice Policy Guidelines and make recommendations to the PCC if changes are necessary
· keep the Parish informed of developments in the field of racial justice
3. Examining our own attitudes and behaviour
· No one in our congregation would intentionally cause offence or distress to another member. It can nevertheless happen that casual remarks, gossip or actions do at times cause distress. All of us must seek to show respect and sensitivity for each other’s feelings, and must bear in mind that minority ethnic people’s perceptions and experiences of racism are different from those of white people. So, raise awareness of each other’s cultures and experiences.
· Let us therefore aim to maintain an atmosphere of honesty and trust, so that we are able to talk openly about racism, and about how it develops and operates.
· It is important in this connection that we should deal swiftly and sensitively with problems which arise, for example, by using peace and reconciliation procedures such as those outlined below.
4. Using Peace and Reconciliation Procedures
From time to time it may happen that someone feels distressed, concerned or aggrieved. It is essential that we should have a system for dealing with such occasions, for otherwise feelings of rejection and insult may strengthen and fester and the corporate life of the church will be harmed. In order to promote reconciliation and healing, the following guidance is provided.
· If you feel that you have been insulted or discriminated against by another member of the congregation, you should speak to the person concerned and explain how you feel. Hopefully this will resolve the problem, and prevent it from occurring again.
· If there is no resolution, or if the problems recur, you should contact the parish’s Racial Justice Panel, membership consisting of:
· a Churchwarden
· a member of the Racial Justice Team
· a lay member of the Ministry Team.
It will act as swiftly as it possibly can to mediate in the dispute and bring about reconciliation and to ensure that the problem does not happen again. (Their names should appear on the Church notice boards and in the Parish Magazine).
· If there is still no resolution, you should contact the rector, whose decision will be final.
· Whether or not an agreement is reached, it is wise to pray, reflect and think things over to get a clearer idea of what the underlying problems are, and to decide between alternative solution
· If you feel that there are aspects of church life and culture which perpetuate or disregard racist attitudes and behaviour, you should bring your concern to the attention of the Racial Justice Panel. The Panel will then act as swiftly as it can to resolve the problem, and will involve the Rector, the Parochial Church Council, Area Dean and Archdeacon as appropriate.
The Racial Justice Team
Re-convene the Team as part of the Ministry Team’s agenda for action, with theological reflections and contact with parishioners via house groups, bible study, discussions etc
The Team shall consist of six lay members, elect its leader annually and meet four times a year.
Other activities include:
· establishing and managing good working relationships with black-majority churches, Bahai, Hindus, Moslem, racial equality councils, local Race Groups in Reading, Slough, Binfield etc
· providing education and training on racism awareness, workshops and seminars for parish organisations as appropriate
· supporting arrangements for the annual celebration of Racial Justice Sunday.
· writing articles for the parish magazine, local newspapers and the diocesan newspaper
· re-establishing Racial Justice Panel to investigate and mediate on issues of racial discrimination
· monitoring of Parish Performance and submitting an annual report to the PCC
These Policy Guidelines are produced by All Saint’s Church, Ascot Heath. It was recommended for use throughout Oxford diocese by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) in May 1999. Revised and formally endorsed by the Parochial Church Council on 21 March 2007 for publication.
If you or any Parish require information about the development of the CMEAC (1991) Seeds of Hope in the Parish, London, please contact the Parish Office.