Racism

In its report Faithful and Equal of 1987, the Methodist Church defines racism as "allowing prejudice to determine the way power is used to the personal, social or institutional detriment of ethnic minority individuals or communities."

What does the Church say about racism?

In a statement in 1978, to which it still holds today, the Methodist Church focused its attention on Christian Commitment to combat racism. The statement says:

"Racism is a sin and contrary to the imperatives of the Gospel. Biblically, it is against all that we perceive of the unmotivated, spontaneous and undiscriminating love of God who in Jesus Christ gave himself for all. As Christian people we believe that with the coming of Jesus Christ a new relationship was initiated between people of different origins." As St Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians (chapter 2 Verses 14-17): "For Christ himself has brought us peace by making Jews and Gentiles one people. With his own body he broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies … By means of the cross he united both races into one body …. So Christ came and preached the good news of peace to all…"

The statement continues: " We submit that racism exists, overtly and covertly, in our country, of which the Methodist Church is a part. It is of vital importance that the church should give an unmistakably clear lead as to where it stands in this matter. As an institution, which is an integral part of national life, it must continually be giving signs and signals declaring its abhorrence and utter rejection of this incipient evil."

What is the Church doing to fight racism?

  • In 1981, following the Brixton Riots, the Methodist Church set up MELRAW (Methodist Leadership Racism Awareness Workshops). It aims to encourage church leaders to face up to racism and to learn practical ways of combating racism in their work. (Following the Brixton Riots whole classes of Metropolitan Police cadets would go to Clubland Methodist Church in South London for racial awareness training).
  • In October 1984 the Methodist Church appointed Ivan Weekes as its first Racial Justice Secretary . (Mr Weekes was born in Barbados but came to England in 1955 at the age of 25.) His appointment was part of the church's recognition that it needed to be practical in its attempt to combat racism. Mr Weekes was later voted Vice President of the Methodist Conference for 1991/92, the highest office that a layman can hold within the church. On his retirement in 1995 he was succeeded by Naboth Muchopa who remains Racial Justice Secretary.
  • In 1987 the church's report on racism, Faithful and Equal , was adopted by the Methodist Conference. It was intended as a long term point of reference for the church and is still in use today. 
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