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Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Churches prepare for Racial Justice Sunday
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¬†Racial Justice Sunday will be observed in British and Irish Churches on 8 September - close to the anniversary of 11 September, at a time when racial justice is high on the political agenda and there is heightened animosity towards people seeking asylum in Britain. Following the theme: 'One Race: the Human Race', on Racial Justice Sunday, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland will invite Christians to celebrate human diversity as a gift of God - and that includes the increasing human diversity within these islands. Christians will also be invited to repent of their role in perpetuating prejudice and injustice and to work practically for a more welcoming and compassionate society. While the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon will prompt church members in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to think about the cost of suspicion, disrespect and hatred between people, Racial Justice Sunday is an invitation to respond to people who are different from us, as God responds - with love, not fear, discrimination or vengeance. The Churches' Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), a commission of CTBI, has produced a study and worship pack and prayer leaflets to help churches observe the Sunday. The prayer leaflets have sold out and has been reprinted twice. Packs costing £3 are available from CCRJ. A Welsh version is available from CYTŘN (Churches Together in Wales; phone 01792 460876) and a version with extra worship resources for use at Mass is available from the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ phone: 020 8802 8080). The pack points out that in the days following 11 September 2001, over one hundred incidents involving harassment and attacks on individuals and places of worship were reported in Britain and Ireland but emphasises that there were also many examples of people reaching out across ethnic and religious boundaries. CCRJ has strongly supported the rights of people seeking asylum in Britain and Ireland. It has spoken out against increased detention of refugee children in Britain, the recent raid on the Stourbridge mosque and the removal of the Afghan Ahmadi family. The Commission fostered the creation of the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) and firmly endorses the work with which it is engaged. Recently the Home Office criticised the British Lottery's Community Fund for giving the NCADC a grant to help with its work to support vulnerable families facing deportation. CCRJ Moderator, Rt Revd Roger Sainsbury, said: "The issues raised around asylum and immigration have put racial justice high on the political agenda. It is important that as Christians we think through the implications of this. How does it affect our understanding of what the Gospel is about? Among other things, I feel strongly that it should mean that we give our support as Christians to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, which aims to work within the law to help very vulnerable people when everything is stacked against them.'" Martyn Eden, Director of Strategic Development of the Evangelical Alliance said: "Without any exceptions, God made human beings in his own image so prejudice against those of another "race" must be contrary to his will. Racial injustice is endemic to the human condition in a fallen world and it is the duty of all God's people to oppose it and to love our neighbours whatever their "race". This is the reason why the Evangelical Alliance supports Racial Justice Sunday and encourages its members to do so actively." Stephen Corriette, Director of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice, said: "It is imperative that, as people of God, we stand together to observe Racial Justice Sunday. Actions speak louder than words - our action today must be to commit ourselves to ensuring our society is a place free from fear, racial discrimination and division. Racial Justice Sunday is a time for each of us to reflect on what being a follower of Christ really means." Thousands of churches around Britain and Ireland will observe Racial Justice Sunday with special prayers and collections for racial justice projects. Among the day's events will be: Dungavel: near Glasgow, there will be an ecumenical celebration in support of asylum seekers. Southampton: Bishop Trevor Wilmot of Basingstoke will preside at a special event for the Winchester diocese at St Mary's in Southampton city centre. Speakers will include a Caribbean woman who arrived in the 1950s, tried to join a church in Southampton and was told to go away; a Muslim woman married to a High Court Judge; and a refugee on the experience of seeking asylum in Britain. West Bromwich: Sandwell Police and West Bromwich Churches Together are holding a week of activities, finishing on Racial Justice Sunday, in churches around the area to encourage the increased reporting of hate crime in the area. The Wesley Methodist Church will house a display about racist harassment and hate crime. Sheffield: ecumenical service at Sheffield Cathedral 3pm. Dover: Ecumenical event planned for Racial Justice Sunday with a band concert in Penchester Gardens from 2pm till 4pm. Cardiff: Special service for Racial Justice Sunday at 3pm at Shiloh Apostolic Church, Cardiff. Preacher: Rt Revd Roger Sainsbury, Moderator of CCRJ. Huddersfield: Diocese of Wakefield Racial Justice Service in Huddersfield Town Hall. Sunday 6pm. Preacher: Revd Joel Edwards, General Director of Evangelical Alliance. Market Harborough: Diocese of Leicester Racial Justice Sunday, 6pm in St Dionysius Church. Service of celebration and commitment. Preacher: Revd Canon Michael Ipgrave, Churches' Commission for Inter Faith Relations. Birmingham: 6.30pm 8 September, city-wide Racial Justice Sunday service at Cannon Street Memorial Baptist Church in Soho Road, Handsworth. Preacher: Dr Daleep Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid, focussing on relationship between economic and racial justice.
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