Churches fight racism together

 Each September, churches throughout Britain and Ireland observe Racial Justice Sunday as a way of focussing attention on the value of human diversity and the need to work against racism. This year, Racial Justice Sunday falls on the 14th of September. Thousands of churches around Britain and Ireland will be observing Racial Justice Sunday by using worship resources on the theme 'One Race, the Human Race', produced by the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), a commission of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Acting Moderator of the Churches' Commission for Racial Justice (CCRJ), Ms Pat White, said: 'Christians - or anyone else for that matter - in Britain and Ireland cannot give up the struggle against racism. Progress has been made in many ways in recent years, but we can't rest while levels of reported racist attacks continue at appalling levels, while relations between religious communities remain so fragile, while negative, stereotyped images of Travelling People in the media go unchallenged and while asylum seekers, among society's most vilified "'outsiders", are unjustly blamed for so many of our problems.' Moderator-elect of CCRJ, the Rev Myra Blyth, said: "Racial Justice Sunday is a unique opportunity to look behind the headlines and listen directly to the voices of asylum seekers. Time and again stories are told of how the dignity and humanity of asylum seekers is continually denied by targeting them as scapegoats. As one asylum seeker puts it, 'it is the shadow of being considered different that is most difficult to bear'. Being different was Jesus' only crime and for that he paid a high price. When will we stop looking for scapegoats and start addressing our fears about difference and intolerance of diversity?" Resources include posters, sermon notes and information on racial justice projects supported by the Churches. For worship leaders there is worship material for young people, prepared by youth workers. And there is a biblical reflection by the Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, who says: "As Christians we have Biblical ideals worth sharing with our society - ideals of justice and truth, hope and respect. I believe that Christians can lead the way by demonstrating appreciation of and understanding for those around us, and striving to challenge exploitation and discrimination." CCRJ believes that working for racial justice, for other forms of social justice and for the integrity of the environment are inextricably linked. To make that link visible, the Racial Justice Sunday packs have been printed on recycled card and paper from post-consumer waste. The pack gives information about the Black Environment Network, Christian Ecology Link and the Churches' Environmental Issues Network. Racial Justice Sunday is also intended to raise funds for practical community racial justice projects around Britain and Ireland. Projects in Wales include the Afro-Celtic Education, Culture and Arts Association, Cardiff, which runs a drop-in centre serving the economically deprived multiethnic area of Butetown. In England, projects assisted include the Karma-Nirvana Asian Women's Health project in Derby, which helps Asian women who, for cultural reasons, find it difficult to make use of statutory services. It provides health education, a health drop-in, exercise classes, an outreach service and legal advice. And in Ireland, the Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership in Dublin assists Sierra Leoneans living in Ireland, including some who have fled brutal civil war. It provides a drop-in centre and practical advice.

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