Legacies of Slavery

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You are invited to explore how the legacies of slavery continue to affect life today. The resources here include bible studies, films, books, papers, prayers and theology covering the topics including the history of slavery and colonisation, white privilege, restorative justice, and look at how we can begin to build more conscious, just and anti-racist communities.


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The United Reformed Church is determined to explore the Legacies of Slavery. The transatlantic slave trade was one of the largest forced migrations of human beings across the globe. Race-based chattel slavery, as practised in the Atlantic world, remains one of the ugliest forms of exploitation of other human beings ever invented. The legacy of that dismal history continues to impact enormously on people around the world today. (pic: Redleaf Lodi: Pixabay)

British Colonial slavery was abolished in 1833-8. British slave traders had by then transported more African people across the Atlantic than any other nation. The British government paid £16.5 billion (adjusted for inflation) to slave-owners as compensation for the loss of their "property". The enslaved received nothing. The loan raised by the British Government to make the compensation payments was finally paid off in 2015.

We are called by our God to act justly, walk humbly and to love mercy. But true grace is never cheap. The Council for World Mission (CWM) has acknowledged that its origins, as the London Missionary Society, lie in this vital period of colonisation and slavery. Its antecedent denominations and churches were deeply complicit in this injustice. The legacies of their actions remain with us today. CWM has therefore embarked on a Legacies of Slavery Project with its partner denominations, including the United Reformed Church.

Together, we are examining how the practice of slavery has continued to shape the realities of all people.

Our work has four main goals:

  • To assess our own story in and complicity with the systems of slavery (HISTORY)
  • To understand better the urgency of racial justice and the issues which intersect with it (WHITE PRIVILEGE)
  • To find ways of advocating and securing reparations locally and globally (APOLOGY & RESTORATIVE JUSTICE)
  • To discover and practise anti-Imperial models of Christian life and mission in today’s world (ANTI-RACIST LIVING)

Initially, these resources are provided for Black History Month 2020, but the collection will continue thereafter and will be updated periodically. They include the following: 

  • A reading list with brief paragraphs indicating why the books should be read
  • A selection of suitable YouTube videos designed for reflection & group discussions
  • A selection of seminal movies
  • Informative papers and stand-alone documents
  • Bible studies, with leaders notes and questions, covering History, White Privilege Apology & Restorative Justice and Anti-racist living

We expect to be able to add resources to this repository throughout the year(s).

 

Black History Month

  • Black Lives Matter/Legacies of Slavery – pre-recorded service (video)
    This Legacies of Slavery Service of Worship is lead by Stephen Ansa-Addo, with additional poetry and prayers by Karen Campbell. Feel free to use for your Black History Month Service, Legacies of Slavery Services, or Diversity Awareness Service etc.

A series of four Bible Studies addressing the Legacies of Slavery

A collection of poems for personal and/or corporate reflection

This resource (pdf) includes an annotated book list with recommendations for both children and adults; YouTube clips to prompt reflection and conversation; film recommendations; music links; and more!

  • In Our Own Words (pdf)
    In this resource we hear directly from BAME ministers serving in the URC who speak candidly about their at times deeply challenging experiences in the church.
  • Articles from The Atlantic (pdf)
    For the more serious researcher!  A compendium of articles featured in American publication The Atlantic since its inception in 1857, discussing arguing and analysing the history of America, its ideals and its realities. 

A series of Zoom conversations hosted during Summer 2020

  • Do Black Lives Matter in the URC?
    All denominations strive to walk the way of Jesus, but are inextricably intertwined with cultures and contexts... In the light of the global awakening to the Legacies of Slavery, white privilege and racial oppression, the URC"s Global and Intercultural Ministries explored this question more deeply in an online Zoom conversation. Guest speakers were Wale Hudson-Roberts of the Baptist Union of the Great Britain, and Patricia Akoli, and member of the United Reformed Church who has delivered diversity training for the denomination. Feel free to use this video to kick off a conversation.
  • Being white when Black Lives Matter
    What does it mean to be White? What is White privilege? Is the church structurally and theologically racist? The Council for World Mission's Revd Dr Peter Cruchley takes a deep dive into some of these questions. This resource comes to you from the United Reformed Church's Task Group on the Legacies of Slavery, and is introduced by Karen Campbell, Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries...
  • 'The Healer' – reflections on the Legacies of Slavery
    How does its art and iconography both reflect and uphold racism in the church? The Council for World Mission's Revd Dr Peter Cruchley takes a deeply personal journey through the assumptions and structures of White privilege that continue to blight the church's witness and ministry. This resource is offered to you by the United Reformed Church's Legacies of Slavery Task Group. We hear briefly from its convenor, Alan Yates.

 

Do Black Lives Matter in the URC?

 

Being white when Black Lives Matter

 

'The Healer' – reflections on the Legacies of Slavery

 

Black Lives Matter – pre-recorded intercessory prayer

White Privilege

A theological response to Black Lives Matter:
‘G-d is an abolitionist: a theological vision imagining a world without police’

Apology and Restorative Justice

The Case for Reparations
Professor Jason Hickel comes to a devastating realisation: were Britain to pay real, honest reparations for slavery and colonisation, there would simply be nothing left. It's not so much a fear of the prospect of paying, but that even thinking about what is owed reveals a hard truth: what is owed, is everything.

Anti-Racist Living

Righteous Anger: Blaming individuals for structural discrimination will only make it worse (pdf)
An article unpacking the challenges of tackling structural racism

 

The URC's work regarding Legacies of Slavery was born out of a Council for World Mission (CWM) project with the same title. For more materials to stimulate your thoughts, you may find it helpful to visit the CWM web page.

 

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