Statement from the racial justice advocacy forum on ukraine, march 2022
The Racial Justice Advocacy Forum calls for coverage, prayer and action for Black and Brown peoples facing racial discrimination amidst the invasion of Ukraine
The Racial Justice Advocacy Forum is an ecumenical Christian entity that seeks to speak prophetically on behalf of Black and Brown Christians to the government on racial injustice challenges and reparations. The forum comprises representatives from various Christian institutions such as the Ascension Trust, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance, the Methodist Church, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Salvation Army, the Sam Sharpe Project, and the United Reformed Church.
UK— March 2022 — The Racial Justice Advocacy Forum condemns the invasion of Ukraine. The RJAF is deeply saddened by the loss of life, the destruction of homes and businesses, and the separation of families which has resulted from Putin's war on Ukraine. The RJAF equally condemns the racism demonstrated by Ukrainian authorities towards Black and Brown people at the borders and routes of escape from the conflict zones.
We believe that all people are made in the image of God and should be equally afforded the dignity, support, opportunity, and protection currently being withheld from many Black and Brown people fleeing for safety. These actions demonstrate the ongoing racist attitudes in Europe which deprive those considered 'other' of basic human needs. The fact that we are seeing demonstrations of racism unfolding amidst this tragic and unlawful invasion is profoundly disheartening and disturbing.
Call to prayer and actionBlack and Brown people, and people of Muslim faith affiliation, are facing racism and prejudice as they seek to escape the conflict in Ukraine. We ask Christians to remember all those who are being treated less than equally and fairly in the evacuation process. We must pray and act.
'It is important for Christians to pray. But for those Black and Brown people experiencing double jeopardy - war and racism - practical support needs to be offered. The fact that vast numbers of Black and Brown people are being prevented from leaving Ukraine is indicative of how deeply racism can lurk.' (Rev. Wale Hudson-Roberts, Justice Enabler – Baptist Union of Great Britain/RJAF)
We are calling upon Christians everywhere to remember and pray for those facing discrimination based on their colour, ethnicity, or faith; to pray for those who have experienced the loss of family, friends and livelihoods; and to pray for the many people who do not have access to basic needs such as food and safe shelter.
We are calling upon all Churches in the region to provide hospitality to all those fleeing Ukraine, to include both the sharing of resources and the provision of pastoral support at the borders.
We call upon media outlets to accurately report the racism faced by Black and Brown people, and to raise awareness of the unjustifiable acts of discrimination taking place in the midst of a war zone in which every day is a matter of life and death for all those caught up in the conflict.
The RJAF encourages people to write to their MPs and the High Commissions in London demanding clarification of their strategy for intervention and protection of their nationals, and to provide regular updates as events unfold.
"I think this crisis speaks to the specificity of those racialised as Black or ‘other’. It highlights the need to examine whom we extend our love and compassion towards, and to whom we deny it. It calls on faith organisations to take the lead in expanding concepts of love and justice to encompass all, and to attend to the glaring omissions that governments and civil society practice when considering whose story is told." (Edwina Peart, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator – Quakers in Britain/RJAF)
The RJAF will hold fortnightly online briefings to share updates on the coordinated efforts to advocate for and support Black and Brown people facing racial discrimination in Ukraine. Christian Aid will support these briefings.
This is my last update for you as your Synod Spirituality Consultant. My term of office ended in March, and I do not feel able to commit to another three years. However, you are not completely rid of me yet!
You will be aware that when I last reported there had been “Walking the Way Together” pilgrimage walks in three of the six Areas of our Synod, with another three planned for 2020. We now find ourselves in very different times. As I write the lockdown is still in place and the two events planned for May and June have regrettably been cancelled. We still have a provisional date in place for the autumn - Saturday 19th September at Church Stretton - and I will keep you posted as the situation develops. And although I don’t have any official duties any more I will be contributing to the planning of the day, and to reorganising the remaining two (hopefully next year) alongside Stuart Scott.
Life has changed beyond recognition in the last few months, and I have been reflecting on what that has to say to us about silence and contemplation. We have all to a certain extent been “on retreat” but I doubt that for most of us it has been a peaceful and spiritual time. We may have found ourselves with no quiet spaces in the day because those of our families who would usually have been elsewhere have been at home. Or we may live alone and have found ourselves with too much quiet on our hands but little peace of mind. It has been a time of ill health or loss for many, and of anxiety for all. My hope and prayer is that you will have found God alongside you in it all, and that you will have been sustained by that sense of presence.
You may remember that I told you about a gathering at Westminster College for people from throughout the URC wishing to develop their spiritual lives. This was one event which did take place, as it was held before the lockdown, and it was a fruitful and rewarding weekend. Our speakers Susan Durber and Terry Hinks each brought something special to the gathering, and I am sure that those of us who were there found resources which have sustained us through the subsequent difficult times. The steering group is looking at future possibilities, so watch this space.
Although nobody has yet been appointed to fill the Spirituality Consultant post there are one or two ideas in the pipeline for future events. A Quiet Day to be facilitated by Jan Scott with input on Mindfulness, which was planned for June, has had to be cancelled, but consideration is being given to offering something online. And I am taking advantage of this less busy time to do some work on a “Walking the Way Together” booklet with suggestions for prayer as you walk around your local area. Prayer, after all, can happen anywhere, and is needed now more than ever. So rest assured that support is still there for you, and I wish you every blessing as you continue your spiritual journey.