Recent events in the US

A personal message from the President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson

 It is with outrage and deep sorrow that we have witnessed the recent brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States.

 But outrage and sorrow are not a sufficient response to racism and inequality in society. How to begin a process of change? It starts with self-examination and listening to the people whose lives are affected by discrimination and hate.

This week I received these words from a Methodist living in south London:

“The young people whom I have worked with for over the last 15 years have felt the impact of racism in every institution they have been part of from schools, to university, to various work places, and other than local support and informal church networks they have not found the Methodist Church as a place that speaks up for them.”

As your President, I start by saying I am sorry. Sorry for being silent when we should have spoken out against the everyday injustices that affect BAME communities. I am sorry that, despite our efforts, we have not done enough for those who feel excluded and we need to do better. We know this includes people of all ages from the Windrush generation to the very young. I am sorry when we have not listened carefully enough and not challenged the assumptions of white privilege and bias.

Repentance can lead us to change, to embody a gracious, loving spirit of inclusion and understanding. There is no excuse for racism. All people are made in God’s image.  We are one body in Christ Jesus.

I hope we can listen more carefully to the voices of BAME members, especially younger people, who face racism, discrimination and violence on a daily basis. Then our Church must be brave, speak out, speak up and challenge racism wherever we find it, especially when we find it in ourselves. 

I have been in contact with the Vice-President who joins me in supporting this statement.

The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference

Reflection and prayers from the Chairs of the London Methodist District

How Long? We ask?  Reflection and prayer for such a time as this:

For as long as we see each other as different,

Weeping and lament will not cease;

For as long as economic and political disparities occur,

Abuse, separation and segregation will not cease;

For as long as we remain silent in the face of oppression,

Discrimination, beatings, killings and demeaning of those who’re different will persist!

The backdrop is dark, signifying the darkness of these unprecedented times. Not only is Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc with human lives, now segregation, racism and separatist attitudes are dominating human relating once more. In a Public Health England review on the Disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19, the following is highlighted: ‘People from Black ethnic groups were most likely to be diagnosed. Death rates from COVID-19 were highest among people of Black and Asian ethnic groups. This is the opposite of what is seen in previous years, when the mortality rates were lower in Asian and Black ethnic groups than White ethnic groups. Therefore, the disparity in COVID-19 mortality between ethnic groups is the opposite of that seen in previous years. People who live in deprived areas have higher diagnosis rates and death rates than those living in less deprived areas. The mortality rates from COVID-19 in the most deprived areas were more than double the least deprived areas, for both males and females. This is greater than the inequality seen in mortality rates in previous years, indicating greater inequality in death rates from COVID-19.’ (extract from the Executive Summary: Published June 2020 PHE publications; gateway number: GW-1311) 

Some of the reasons noted for this in the above statement is poverty and the so-called post-code lottery. The area one lives in can often be contributory to the disparities faced.  

As the London District of the Methodist Church,

we embrace everyone and believe all lives matter!

We also strongly yield to the side of the oppressed, the deprived, poor and marginalised.

We weep with those who are weeping and in humility,

we share deeply the pain of those who’ve lost their loved ones.

That is why we cannot afford to remain silent when people like George Floyd are deprived of life through callous, racist and insensitive ‘public order – actions’ that are not meted out equally and without bias amongst the whole community; whether be it here in the UK with the high incidences of stop and search amongst BAME youths when compared to those of white ethnic origin; or in the US with the ongoing riots and continued segregation by police forces in ‘dispensing their brand of justice’ (which often stands in stark contrast to the proper rule of law). As Christians from all walks of life, we are dismayed and filled with righteous indignation at the cheapening of human life, the continued accentuation of difference and the disparate way in which resources are shared amongst differing communities. When one weeps and is in pain, as a church, we cry too and share in their pain!

A prayer:                                    

God of the persecuted and the bereaved,

Pour Your love upon Your sorrowing servants.

In the sickening and devastating acts of human intent,

Pour out your power we pray,

that we may be given hope

and an assurance of Your presence in these tumultuous times.

Open your hand of grace dear God to all the people of the USA

Enable them to find common ground, to yield to justice and to find peace.

Empower them to have compassion through the presence of your Holy Spirit.

Forgive our failing hearts as we allow these tragic events to overtake us,

Forgive our anger as we allow senseless killings to control us

And forgive our fearfulness in remaining silent and doing nothing.

Give us O Lord a glimpse of a hopeful future,

through the presence and life affirming power of Jesus Christ our Lord,

Who reigns with You in the power of the Holy Spirit, now and always, amen.

May justice, peace and love be a symbol of our unstinting solidarity;

A Poem:

He lay there, needing to be free,

Deprived of oxygen.

He cried out

His brain needing air

They ignored him.

George Floyd died.

A slow death.

In excruciating pain.

They chose to do nothing.

This was a lynching unwarranted,

Senseless, callous & brutal!

Passers-by begged for mercy,

Begged for care & compassion,

Their cries fell on deaf ears.

We will stand up for George Floyd

We will not be silent anymore

We join his family in their pain;

Black lives matter too,

We will be silent no more!

Revd Dr Jongi Zihle

The District Chairs,

Jongi, Nigel & Micky.