Reform interview: Race matters

Ben Lindsay news bannerCan't wait for the September edition of Reform magazine? Don't worry, you won't have to wait much longer. In the meantime, read an extract of a great interview by two members of the Reform team – Charissa King and Stephen Tomkins. 

Ben Lindsay is on a mission to get churches talking about race. 

He describes himself as a black pastor of a white-majority church in one of the most racially diverse boroughs in London, Emmanuel Church in New Cross.

Two years ago, he gave each of his fellow church leaders a copy of Reni Eddo Lodge’s multi-awardwinning book: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Discussing Eddo Lodge’s book with his colleagues sparked such invaluable conversations and learning, that out of that process his own debut book was born: We Need to Talk About Race: Understanding the black experience in white majority churches (SPCK, 2019).

Mr Lindsay’s book has received plaudits from theologians including the broadcaster and professor Robert Beckford, and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who called it 'a must-read for the UK Church.’

Charissa, a black woman, and Stephen, a white man, met Mr Lindsay on a surprisingly sunny afternoon in south-east London.

How do we acknowledge and celebrate our racial uniqueness, while promoting our oneness with God and other Christians? 
I think we’ve got to have some very honest conversations. Some people say: ‘I’m colour blind. I don’t see colour,’ which is weird. Are you just blind? Because clearly God sees colour – he made us all different. The other end of the spectrum is being completely colour conscious: ‘My identity is my skin colour,’ which is equally dangerous. We have to bring the two closer together, and that requires brutally honest conversations; that requires bravery, and for people to step out of their comfort zones. I’m hoping this book gives people the permission to do that.

We’re used to white-majority culture’s stories, or the white perspective on black stories. As soon as a person of colour stands up and says: ‘This is my perspective,’ they sometimes fall into the angry bracket, or ‘She’s got a chip on her shoulder,’ or ‘You’re playing the race card.’ No, I’m just telling you my story!

Read more of how the three got on here

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